February 8, pope
Roman Martyrology: In Rome, Blessed Pius IX, Pope, who proclaimed the truth of Christ, who was intimately united, and instituted many bishoprics, promoting the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary and calling the First Vatican Council (1878 ).
Beatification date: 3 September 2000 by Pope John Paul II at Saint Peter’s Square, Rome, Italy.
Born on May 13, 1792 in Senigallia, Italy as Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti. Son of Gerolamo Ferretti and Caterina Solazzi, local nobles, the family’s ninth child. Frail, intelligent and pious boy who suffered from epilepsy when young. Educated at the Piarist College, Volterra, Italy from 1802 to 1809. Studied in Rome from 1809 to 1810 due to political disturbances in the city. He returned in 1814 and asked for admission to the Papal Noble Guard, but was turned down due to his epilepsy. Studied theology at the Roman Seminary from 1814 to 1818, during which his epilepsy disappeared. Ordained on 10 April 1819 in Rome. Spiritual director of the orphan asylum of Tata Giovanni, Rome. Auditor of the apostolic delegation to Chile from 1823 to 1825. Canon of San Maria in Via Lata, Rome. Director of San Michele hospital in Rome. Chosen archbishop of Spoleto, Italy on 21 May 1827. Named assistant at the Pontifical Throne on 1 June 1827. Archbishop of Imola, Italy on 17 December 1832. Created cardinal on 23 December 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI. Chosen 255th pope in the conclave of 1846.
Last pope to hold temporal power, that is, to rule a secular state. His election raised the hopes of patriotic and liberal circles of Catholics. One of his first acts was an amnesty for all political prisoners. Defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 8 December 1854. Celebrated the First Vatican Council from 1869 to 1870, which was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War. This council defined the dogma of papal infallibility. He supported several reforms in the Papal States, which included central Italy, and several outlying areas, such as Assisi, but lost the territory due to the unification of the Kingdom of Italy in 1870 and 1871. Created 123 cardinals. Gained a reputation for being a patriotic, and reforming Pope, and only Saint Peter the Apostle served longer.
Pius IX’s cause for beatification was one of the longest and most difficult in Church history. Begun under Pius X on 11 February 1907, re-launched by Benedict XV without much success, later by Pius XI, and then by Pius XII on 7 December 1954. The decree on the heroic exercise of theological and cardinal virtues was finally promulgated by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 6 July 1985, allowing his proclamation as Venerable. Among Pius IX’s most outstanding virtues were his unconditional love for the Church, his charity, and his high regard for the priesthood and for missionaries. The miracle attributed to him, verified by the Medical Commission on 15 January 1986, and proclaimed definitive in December 1999, was the inexplicable cure of a French nun.
He died on February 7, 1878 in Vatican City of natural causes and was buried in the basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le mura, Rome, Italy.