Pius IX. And His Time
by The Rev. AEneas MacDonell
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It is easily observed that in every detail of this enumeration, religion and morals are directly attacked. The Pope, who is the chief of religion and the great preacher of morality, cannot give any countenance to such things. Far less can he identify himself with such anti-Christian legislation. This is the insuperable impediment to his reconciliation with the present Rulers of "United Italy." He can resist evil, and resist unto blood, as so many of his sainted predecessors have done. But when there is question of accepting it, his only word must be, as it has always been, non possumus. What would men say, if He, who is the Head of the Church, and the chief guardian of the truth confided to Her keeping, could be brought by the threats or caresses of ephemeral worldly Powers, to call good evil, and evil good!


Religion, when persecuted in any country, fails not to wreak vengeance on the persecuting power. In such countries, virtue, generally, respect for law, order and authority, as well as public security, rapidly diminish, and the State discovers, although too late, that, in aiming at the Church, it has struck against itself a deadly blow.

Since the inauguration of the much vaunted Kulturkampf, socialism has increased to such a degree in Germany as to appal even Chancellor Bismarck, whilst Italy, at the same time that it closed its convents and Catholic colleges, was obliged to multiply not only its military barracks, but also its prisons. In no part of Italian territory have these preventives of crime, if, indeed, they may be so-called, proved sufficient. So rapid has been the increase of crime, that, according to official statistics, in the Province of Rome alone, seven thousand two hundred and ninety-three cases were ascertained and brought before the tribunals, in 1874. This is just double what appeared in the criminal courts under the Pontifical government. In the whole kingdom there were eighty-four thousand prisoners, or criminals under restraint. This is thirty-five thousand more than in France, the general population of which is greater by one-third, and four times more than in Great Britain, the population of which is about the same as that of united Italy. This state of crime is not surprising when it is considered that the rulers themselves have never ceased to set the example of the most unscrupulous and merciless theft and robbery. The new civil code, besides, appears to have had no other object in view than to obliterate all idea of right, and to legitimatize all robberies, past, present and future, in the unfortunate kingdom of Italy. Article seven hundred and ten of this code declares, plainly, that property is acquired by possession.

At Rome, barristers, judges, and even the most revolutionary journalists are assassinated by private vengeance, in broad day, in the street, or in their offices, and no one dare molest the murderers. In Romagna it was found necessary to bring to justice an association of assassins, who were, for the most part, persons of good education and men of property. In Sicily matters were still worse. There, a society of Brigands, called Maffia, holds the island in a state of perpetual terror. Numerous Garibaldians who have been without employment since 1870, and were long tolerated, on account of former complicity, added to the ranks of this fraternity. The Maffia rid themselves of another society, the Kamorra, by the successive assassination at Palermo alone, of twenty-three of its chiefs. All these crimes remain unpunished, none daring to bear witness against the guilty.

In the departments of government there is not less moral disorder. The finances are mismanaged and dilapidated. Notwithstanding the enormous and oppressive increase of taxation, together with the forcible appropriation of ecclesiastical property, deficits are the order of the day, and the nation has been, more than once, and probably is still, on the verge of bankruptcy. Truly, may the Italians, who are twenty-three to one, exclaim, in their distress: Quo usque tandem abuteris patientia nostra? "How long, O disastrous revolution! wilt thou abuse our patience?"

Nor are the better thinking Italians without blame. Why did they not take part—why do they not still take part in the elections, and return, as they well may, a majority to the would-be constitutional parliament? Their numbers would, undoubtedly, be imposing and influential. So much so, indeed, that they must finally obtain admission, without burdening their conscience with an obnoxious oath. What did not Daniel O'Connell, Ireland's liberator, accomplish, by causing himself alone to be elected for an Irish constituency, and by proceeding to demand the seat to which he was elected in the British parliament, without uttering an oath which shocked his conscience?


The cruel and sanguinary persecution of Catholics in the Russian Empire was a cause of intense sorrow to Pius IX. He could do nothing towards alleviating the sufferings of those unfortunate people. The Tsar, Alexander II., shows in his treatment of his Ruthenian subjects of the united Greek Church, that he is wholly unworthy of the reputation for enlightenment and benevolence with which he has been credited. The Empress, indeed, is blamed, together with her fanatical favorite, Melle. Bludow, the Minister of Public Instruction, Tolstoy, and Gromeka, Governor of Siedlce, for having urged him to use the power of the empire in forcing conversions to Russo-Greek orthodoxy. That the heads of a semi-barbarous nation should so advise is not surprising. The Tsar, who is an absolute monarch, cannot be excused. There is every reason, besides, for holding him personally responsible. When he was at Warsaw, a peasant woman, bearing a petition, succeeded in obtaining admission to his presence. As soon as he learned that the petition begged toleration for the united Greek Church, he replied by inserting in all the newspapers a confirmation of the orders formerly given for the extinction of that church. Count Alexandrowicz de Constantinovo was repeatedly warned by the Russian authorities that he had no right to attend the Latin churches, which, being less persecuted, were a refuge for the united Greeks, when, indeed, as was rarely the case, they were allowed to enjoy it. The Count, hoping to be more liberally dealt with by the enlightened Tsar, who was said to surpass in all that was great and noble, his tolerant predecessor, Alexander I., proceeded to St. Petersburgh. The Tsar made a reply to his representation, which, in the case of an ordinary mortal, would be taken for a proof of stupidity, or of impenetrable ignorance. "The Orthodox religion is pleasing to me. Why should it not please you also?" It remained only for the Count to sell his properties and abandon his country. More humble members of the obnoxious church could not so easily escape. The savage treatment to which they were subjected can only be briefly alluded to here. A persecution which has lasted more than a hundred years, and is not yet at an end, is more a subject for the general history of the church than for the life of Pius IX. A few facts, therefore, must suffice.

In the important diocese of Chelm, particularly, the most ingenious devices were had recourse to, in order to delude the Catholic people, and induce them to comply with the requirements of the Russo-Greek Church. All these failing, force was had recourse to, and it was used, assuredly, without stint or measure. Seizure of property, imprisonment, the lash and exile to Siberia, proved equally unavailing, as persecution, in every form, must always be. Greater excesses were then had recourse to.

They who dared to perform a pilgrimage, take part in a religious procession, or enter a Catholic Church, were shot down like the wild game of the forests, by the fanatical myrmidons of the Tsar. In January, 1874, the people of Rudno were forced to abandon their dwellings and take refuge in the woods. At Chmalowski, several united Greeks, of whom three were women, were flogged to death by Cossack troops. At Pratulin, in the district of Janow, when a number of people assembled in a cemetery, were guarding the door of the church against apostate priests, a German colonel, who commanded three companies of Cossacks, ordered his troops to fire. Nine of the people fell dead on the spot. A great many more were mortally wounded. Of these four died within the day. "Thus does the Tsar punish rebels," said the savage colonel to the mayors of the neighboring villages, whom he had forced to witness the execution. At Drylow, five men were slain on the same day, and in the same cruel way as at Pratulin. So recently as August, 1870, a body of peasants, returning from a pilgrimage, were attacked by Russian soldiers. They defended themselves bravely, as best they could, with no better weapons than their walking canes. Six of the troops fell, and thirty, one of whom was an officer, were wounded. Reinforcements coming to the aid of the military, the peasants were defeated, and a great number of them killed and wounded. Among the latter were many women, and seven children. Two hundred arrests were made, the next and following days. The prisoners were at first immured in the Citadel of Warsaw. It is not probable that they will ever be allowed to visit their kindred or their native villages.

Pius IX., being partially informed of such cruelties, which it was utterly beyond his power to prevent, wrote to the United Greek Archbishop of Lemberg, Sembratovicz, conjuring him to send to the sorely persecuted people all the help in his power, both spiritual and material. He declared, at the same time, by the Bull, "omnem sollicitudinem" dated 13th May, 1874, that the Liturgies proper to the Eastern Churches, and particularly that of the United Greeks, which was settled by the Council of Tamose, in 1720, were always held in high esteem by the Holy See, and ought to be carefully preserved. Hearing that a Bull which concerned them had arrived from Rome, the Ruthenian peasants sent secretly to Lemberg, in order to procure it. Their envoys entering Galicia without passports, incurred the risk of being sent to Siberia. When the Bull was once obtained, the people assembled in groups, in remote places, and any one who could read, read it to the rest of the company. It was held in honor as a relic. When the Russians discovered that the Bull was known to the people, they did their best to cause it to be misunderstood, both among the clergy and the laity. They insisted, even, that the Pope had discarded the Greek rite; that henceforth, they who adhered to Rome, could not celebrate either the Mass of St. John Chrysostom or that of St. Basil, and that the marriage of secular priests, together with the Sclavonic language, would cease to be tolerated.

It has been attempted to conceal from the civilized world the more atrocious circumstances of the Russian persecution. But the darkest deeds of the darkest despotism cannot be always done in the dark. The press of continental Europe has informed the public mind. If anything were wanting to satisfy English readers, generally, it would be found in the despatch of Mr. Marshall Jewell, Minister of the United States, at St. Petersburgh, to Mr. Secretary Fish. This document is dated at the United States Legation at St. Petersburgh, 23rd February, 1874. The minister begins by stating that he took great pains to be correctly informed, regarding the state of matters, before writing his report. This, he adds, was not done without difficulty, as the affair was kept very quiet at St. Petersburgh. Certain repressive measures for the conversion of the Ruthenian Catholics having proved inadequate, "new and more stringent orders were given a few weeks later. In consequence of these orders, several priests (thirty-four, I have been told) who persisted in performing the former services, were arrested. In some localities the peasants refused to go to the churches when the Orthodox priests officiated, until they were forced to go by the troops. In other localities they assembled in crowds, shut the churches, and prevented the priests from performing the offices. In one case, it is said, a priest was stoned to death. Conflicts arose between the peasants and the armed force. On such occasions many persons were maltreated, and in the case of the village of Drelow—28th February—thirty peasants were slain, and many more wounded. It is said, even, that several soldiers were killed. It is reported that the prisons at Lublin and Kielce are crammed with prisoners. The peasants have also been flogged, men receiving fifty, women twenty-five, and children ten lashes each. Some women, more determined and outspoken than the rest, were punished with a hundred lashes. Like troubles, it is said, have occurred at Pratulin and other localities, with loss of life.... Last summer, the peasants of divers villages, in the Government of Lublin, were constantly obliged to submit to examination, and to appear before the courts. It was, in consequence, impossible for them to cultivate their fields; and, hence, they have been reduced almost to a state of famine. (Signed.) MARSHALL JEWELL."


It is comparatively an easy undertaking to create trouble and disturbance in the church. It is not so easy, however, to establish a schism. The Prussian chancellor learned this fact when he beheld the failure of his alt-Catholic scheme in Germany. Having tried the same game in Turkey, his projects, notwithstanding the aid and countenance of the Mussulman Power, proved abortive. The government of the sublime Porte had been very tolerant hitherto, as regarded its Catholic subjects. In the early days of Pius IX. it had concurred with the Holy See in establishing a Catholic bishop at Jerusalem; it protected pilgrimages and processions; it favored colleges and institutions for ecclesiastical education; and to such a degree that, under its auspices and through its care, there are several flourishing seminaries which renew the intellectual life of the people who follow the Latin rite. A united Bulgarian church has been founded and is daily gaining strength. The Maronites are almost completely restored after the disaster of 1860. The number of Greek Catholics or Melchites, has been almost doubled, so great is the number of conversions. The same may be said of the Chaldean or Armenian Catholics. These last are probably the best informed and the most influential of the Christian populations under the Sultan's rule. Prussian intrigue, and a momentary renewal of Mussulman fanaticism, have done much to check, if not wholly to destroy this happy state of things. One Kupelian, aspiring to be patriarch of Armenia, was put forward by rich and influential parties as the administrator of their nation, and they succeeded in obtaining from the Porte his investiture, as the only true Head of the Armenian Catholics. The legitimate chief, Hassoum, Patriarch of Cilicia, protested. In vain, however, as France was no longer able to maintain his right. The last ambassador of that country representing Napoleon III., had even supported the pretensions and favored the machinations of the Kupelianites. The Porte was induced to treat Hassoum as a seditious person, and banished him from the country. The exile found his way to Rome, where he was kindly received by Pius IX. He did not return to Constantinople till 1876. Meanwhile, persecution was cruelly carried on. Bishops were expelled from their sees, rectors from their parishes, churches, monasteries and hospitals were seized by force of arms. At Damascus, Broussa, Sinope, Mardyn, Mossoul, all the principal towns of the Ottoman Empire, Armenian Catholics were forcibly driven from their churches, in order to make room for mere handfuls of Kupelianists. The persecution extended as far as Cairo. At Augora, twelve thousand Armenian Catholics were dispossessed in favor of twelve dissenters, one of these twelve being an apostate monk, the delegate of Kupelian. At Adana, the church, the school, and the residence of the Catholic Armenian bishop, with all the revenues attached thereto, became the prey of two individuals, a priest and a lay person. At Trebizonde, the bishop was expelled by Russian bayonettes, and died of grief. The value of property taken from Catholics is estimated at one hundred millions of livres. For what, it may be asked, was the power of an empire exercised, and so much robbery perpetrated? In favor, at least, one would say, of some important sect? No such thing. It was all for the would-be Kupelian schism, seven hundred strong. It is needless here to say how soon the degenerate Sultan, Abdul Aziz, and his prevaricating empire met their reward, whilst the legitimate Armenian patriarch, Hassoum, so long the victim of persecution, has been restored, is honored by the government of his country and held in the highest esteem by the Chief Pastor of the Christian fold. All this was foretold by Pius IX., although, indeed, the Holy Pontiff pretended not to utter a prophecy. In a letter intended for the consolation of the banished Archbishop of Mardyn, in Mesopotamia, and the Armenian Catholics, he says: "It behooves us not to lose courage, nor to believe that the triumph of iniquity will be of long continuance. For, does not the Scripture say: 'The wicked man is caught in his own perversity; he is bound by the chains of his crimes, and he who digs a pit for others will fall into it himself: he who casts a stone into the path of his neighbor, will strike against it and stumble; finally, he who lays a snare for another will be caught therein himself.' This war, venerable, brother, is waged, not so much against men as against God. It is because of hatred to his name that his ministers and faithful people are persecuted. Persecution constitutes their merit and their glory. God will at length arise and vindicate his cause. Whilst I applaud your firmness, I most earnestly exhort you never to let it fail you, but to possess your soul in patience, to wait confidently, and, at the same time, courageously, for you rely not on your own strength, but on the power of God, whose cause you maintain. Your constancy will confirm that of your brethren of the clergy and of the flock confided to your care. It will lead to a moral victory, assuredly more brilliant and more solid than the ephemeral success of violence."

It was not long till the news of the day bore that many distinguished persons were returning to the one fold. A moral victory for the Armenian Catholics was following fast in the wake of successful force. The number of Kupelianists was diminishing. The churches and church properties of Adana and Diabekir, were abandoned by them in 1876, and the schism was in course of being extinguished.

The Chaldean patriarch, Audon, rashly undertook to establish a schism. Towards the end of February, 1873, he was reconciled to Pius IX., and relieved from the censures which he had incurred. The Chaldean Catholics gave a great deal of trouble. However anxiously Pius IX. labored for their salvation, they are insignificant in point of numbers, scarcely as many as would constitute a parish in any of our cities. Any further historical notice of them may, therefore, be very properly dispensed with.


China, where the light of Christianity has sought so long to penetrate and dispel the dismal gloom of heathen darkness, may now, at length, be said to enjoy the greatest possible degree of religious liberty. The European Powers, Great Britain and France, whilst securing the freedom of trade, and generally that intercourse which is customary between civilized nations, neglected not, at the same time, to establish such relations as render safe and available the labors of Christian missionaries. If, in Tonquin, there occurred a fearful massacre of Christians, it was due to the indiscretion of a French officer who exceeded his orders, and excited against his fellow-countrymen and the Christian populations, generally, the anger of the pagan Mandarins. The vengeance of these chiefs was prompt, sweeping and cruel. In the localities inhabited by Christians only some women and little children were spared. Not a house was left. The French government probably, from unwillingness to recognize, in any way, the action of its officer, refrained from punishing these atrocities. A treaty, placing the whole country of Tonquin under the protection of France, was concluded with the Emperor of Aunam, who is the Liege Lord of Tonquin, and thus liberty to preach the Gospel secured for the future.

In India and Western China, liberty of conscience has long prevailed. Pius IX. was, in consequence, enabled to increase the number of vicariates-apostolic in those countries, as well as in China proper, in proportion to the growth of the faithful people, however inconsiderable it was, as yet in the midst of countless numbers of heathens and Mahometans.

The Pontificate of Pius IX. would be for ever memorable, if only on account of the new era which appears, at length, to have dawned for the long benighted empire of Japan. That empire was as a sealed book to all Christian nations. As is well known, no traveller or merchant from any Christian land could set foot on its territory without first performing the revolting ceremony of trampling on the chief emblem of the Christian faith. At one time, nevertheless, there were many Christians in Japan, and, as will be seen, heathen prejudice and persecution had not been able to extinguish the Divine light. It may be conceived how searching and cruel the persecution was when it is remembered that, in the early part of the seventeenth century, there were two millions of Christians, and, about the same time, almost as many martyrs. All missionaries who, since 1630, landed on the inhospitable shores of Japan, were immediately seized, tortured, and put to death. It was generally believed that the Christian people were totally exterminated. Pius IX., notwithstanding, as if actuated by some secret inspiration, the very first year of his Pontificate, created a vicariate-apostolic of Japan. Several endeavors to enter into communication with the Japanese were made; but, for a long time, to no purpose. The sealed-up empire, at length, opened its ports to Great Britain and the United States of America. Such was the power of trade. The other civilized nations could no longer be excluded. Japan concluded a treaty with France by virtue of which the subjects of the latter State were secured in the free exercise of their religion among the Japanese. Mgr. Petitjean, who was, at the time, the vicar-apostolic, availed himself of such favorable relations to erect a church at Yokohama, and establish his residence at Nagasaki. All this was happily accomplished under the encouraging auspices of Pius IX. One day, as the vicar-apostolic had concluded the celebration of Mass, some inhabitants of a large village named Ourakami, near the city, came to him with countenances, expressive, at the same time, of joy and fear. Addressing him, they said: "Have you and your priests renounced marriage, and do you honor in your prayers the Mother of Christ?" The missionary replying in the affirmative, the Japanese fell on their knees and exclaimed: "You are, indeed, the disciples of Saint Francis Xavier, our first apostle. You are the true brethren of our former Jesuit Fathers. At last, after a lapse of two hundred years, we behold, once more, the priests of the true faith!" They gave thanks to God, shedding abundance of tears, with which mingled those of the good missionary; "religion," they added, "is free only to strangers. The law has not ceased to punish us Japanese Catholics with death. No matter; receive us, nevertheless, and instruct us. The lapse of time and the want of books have, perhaps, disfigured in our memories the teachings of truth. There will happen to us whatever it shall please God to appoint."

Four thousand families, comprising fourteen thousand individuals, had secretly persevered, clinging to the Catholic faith since the days of the Apostolic Xavier. Notwithstanding all the prudence of the missionaries, the secret of their relations with the natives became known to the local police, and more than four thousand inhabitants of Ourakami were arrested, bastinadoed, imprisoned or transported to the North. Their punishment lasted four years. One-third of their number died of want, but few of them gave way. The survivors of these persecuted people were finally restored to their country, and through the representations of the European consuls, religious liberty was granted, at least, provisionally, to natives as well as strangers. Thus did Pius IX., at length, enjoy the consolation to behold, established in peace, the church which St. Francis Xavier had planted in the Empire of Japan, and which was so celebrated in the annals of Christian heroism.


Gonsalvez de Oliveira, Bishop of Olinda, had found it necessary to warn his diocesans against the machinations of certain secret societies, which were alike hostile to the Church and to the State. They had obtained so much influence with the latter as to be able to attack, with impunity, the Sisters of Charity, and the priests of the Lazarist congregation, as well as all other zealous priests who sought to restore the discipline of the church. Whilst, on the one hand, the bishop was sustained by the congratulations and encouragement of the Holy See, and by the deference to ecclesiastical authority of many Catholics who had been accustomed to consider the secret societies as most inoffensive associations, he was urged, on the other hand, by the fury of the chiefs of those societies, who, alone, know all that they aim at and hold secret.

The Emperor, Don Pedro II., influenced by his free-thinking entourage, judged that the pastoral letter should be denounced to the Council of State. The councillors declared that it was an illegal document, not having received the Imperial placet "required by the Constitution of the Empire." Now commenced the most heartless, and, as is always the case, unavailing persecution. By order of the ministry, the procurator-general summoned the Bishop of Olinda before the Supreme Court of Rio Janeiro. The intrepid prelate replied by a letter, in which he declared that he could not, in conscience, appear before the Supreme Court, because it was impossible to do so, without acknowledging the competence of a civil court in matters purely religious. On 3rd January, 1874, the bishop was ordered to go to prison. He intimated that he would yield only to force. The chief of police, accordingly, accompanied by two army officers, repaired to the Episcopal palace, and conducted Mgr. de Oliveira to the port where a ship of war was in attendance, to transport him to the maritime arsenal of Rio Janeiro, one of the most unwholesome stations in Brazil. There the illustrious prisoner was visited by Mgr. Lacerda, Bishop of Rio Janeiro, who took off his pectoral cross, which was a family keep-sake, and placing it around the neck of Mgr. Oliveira, said: "My Lord, you have full jurisdiction throughout this land to which you are brought as a captive. My clergy, the chapter of my cathedral, all will be most happy to obey your orders. Have the goodness to bless us all. The blessing of those who suffer persecution in the cause of Christ is a pledge of salvation." Bishop Lacerda, before retiring, handed to the prisoner a large sum of money, in order that he should want for nothing, and promised to renew his visit as often as the gaolers would permit. Almost all the bishops of Brazil sent congratulatory telegrams to the imprisoned bishop. One of them went so far as to identify himself with the action of the Bishop of Olinda, by doing in like manner. It was the Bishop of Para, who was speedily transferred from his Episcopal palace to prison. The administrator who filled his place, having refused to remove the interdict which had been pronounced against certain confraternities which admitted members of the secret societies, was condemned on 25th April, 1875, to six years of forced penal labor. Four years of the like torture were decreed against the administrator of Olinda for a similar offence. So much for the humanitarian Emperor of Brazil and his enlightened advisers.

It was not long till new elections raised to power, men who had more respect for the Episcopal office, and the wretched Brazilian persecution came to an end.

The Bishop of Olinda was no sooner set at liberty than he repaired to Rome, in order to give an account of his conduct to Pius IX. The Holy Father gave him every proof of the warmest affection.

The lesser States of South America, which, on being emancipated from the yoke of Spain, had chosen the republican form of government, became a source of intense anxiety to the Holy Father. Venezuela, Chili, the Argentine Republic, and, even Hayti, appear to have been seized with the spirit of the time. They had become too great, one would say, to accept humbly the teachings of religion. Even Chili, where comparative moderation prevailed, made an attempt to subordinate in all things, spiritual as well as temporal, the Church to the State. The bishops, as in duty bound, protested; and, being unanimously supported by the people, the attack of Chilian free-thinkers, on public peace and liberty, was abandoned. The trouble in Hayti arose more from a desire, on the part of the negroes, to have native priests than any real hostility to religion. The government ignorantly assumed the right to appoint the chief administrators of the Church. The people were painfully affected by this unwarrantable encroachment on the spiritual power. It was hardly to be supposed that Peru should be out of the fashion. Pius IX. appears, however, to have settled the difficulties of the Peruvians, by granting to their presidents the same right of patronage which was formerly enjoyed by the Kings of Spain. The religious troubles of Mexico were not so easily composed. The civil authorities of that sadly unsettled republic, urged, it is believed, by the secret societies, aimed at nothing less than the total suppression of religion. On 24th November, 1874, they decreed that no public functionary or body of officials, whether civil or military, should attend any religious office whatsoever. "The Sunday or Sabbath day," they impiously ruled, "shall henceforth be tolerated only in as far as it affords rest to public employees." Religious instruction, together with all practices of religion, was prohibited in all the establishments of the federation of the States and the municipalities. No religious act could be done except in the churches, and there, only, under the superintendence of the police. No religious institution was authorized to acquire real estate or any capital accruing from such property. Article nineteen of this detestable legislation, and which was carried by one hundred and thirteen to fifty-seven votes, interdicted the Sisters of Charity from living in community and wearing publicly their costume. Thus were expelled from Mexico four hundred sisters, who performed their charitable offices in the hospitals, schools and asylums of the country. Public opinion was roused, but to no purpose. The good sisters were allowed to embark for France, bearing with them the fate of thousands of the unfortunate. They may, perhaps, be replaced by the Prussian chancellor's deaconesses; of this sisterhood, the best suited for the Mexican climate, would, no doubt, be that portion which fled from Smyrna on the approach of an epidemic.


In the midst of so many discontented, turbulent, persecuting, semi-barbarous States, there was one where there was neither discontent, nor turbulence, nor persecution. This favored Republic of Ecuador was in close communion with Pius IX., and its president discarding all the fine-spun views and chimerical theories of the time, ruled, as became the chief of a free State, according to the wishes and the generally accepted principles of his people. A republic, so governed, provided it remain uncorrupt, cannot fail to enjoy the highest degree of prosperity compatible with its position and material resources. Not only did Ecuador itself enjoy the fruits of its truly free and rationally republican government, it was able also to extend the blessings of its Christian and liberal civilization to neighboring tribes. Moved by the example and the representations of the good people of Ecuador, nine thousand savages of the Province of Oriente were induced to adopt the habits of Christian civilization. The government of the enlightened president, Garcia Moreno, was so abundantly blessed that, in twelve years, the trade of Ecuador was doubled, as were also the number of its schools and the sum of its public revenues.

So bright an illustration of the good-working of sound principles was not to be tolerated. The love of a grateful and prosperous people could not protect their great and successful fellow-citizens against the weapons of secret conspirators. Political fanatics, who were strangers in Ecuador, and who, according to their own declaration, bore no personal ill-will to the president, struck the fatal blow. "I die," said the illustrious victim, as he expired, "but God dieth not!" The assassins were they who hold that God has no business in this world. "Dixit insipicus; non est Deus."

Pius IX. lamented the death of Garcia Moreno, as he had lamented some seven-and-twenty years before, the untimely fate of his own minister, Count Rossi. He extolled the President of Ecuador in several allocutions, as the champion of true civilization and its martyr. He caused his obsequies to be solemnized in one of the Basilicas of Rome, over which he still held authority, and ordered that his bust should be placed in one of the galleries of the Vatican.

In the estimation of a certain class of politicians, Moreno was behind the age. In reality he was far in advance of it. The mania for Godless government, Godless education, Godless manners, and generally a Godless state of society, is only a passing phase on the face of the world. If, indeed, it be anything more, woe to mankind! Despair only can harbor the idea of its long continuance. The social and political chaos which darkens the age, must, surely, a little sooner or a little later, give way to that order which is heaven's first law. Moreno beheld, through the storms that raged around his infant State, the early dawn of this better day. This light led him onwards. History will place him, not only among heroes and sages, but also among the most renowned initiators of great movements. His death is a glorious protest against the Godless, reckless, revolutionary sects. His high career will be as a monument throughout the centuries, constantly reminding mankind that, in this age, which may well be called the age of chaos and confusion—confusion in politics, confusion in the social State, confusion of ideas—there was, at least, one favored spot, where truth, order and justice reigned, and there was a contented and happy people.


The Protestant and free-thinking majority in Switzerland were jealous of the prosperity of the Catholic Church. They must, therefore, if possible, divide, and by dividing, weaken, if not destroy, the Catholic body. The most efficient means they could think of was the establishment of an old or alt-Catholic Church on the model of that of Germany. The idea was at hand, and the elements were not far to seek. Among the Swiss Catholic clergy there were none so weak as to betray their church. In the coterminous country—France, where there are fifty thousand parochial priests, some thirty were found already in disgrace among their brethren, who were ready to form the nucleus of the proposed schismatical church. The pretext was the pretended novelties introduced by the OEcumenical Council of the Vatican, which, they insisted, changed the character of the ancient Catholic Church. The schism once on foot, the majority in the State affected to treat the real Catholics as dissenters, and the handful of schismatics as the Catholic Church of Switzerland. Founding on this idea, persecution was speedily inaugurated. First came the secularization of several abbeys, which the revolution of the sixteenth century had respected, in the northern cantons, and the confiscation of the Church of Zurich, which was handed over to the alt-Catholics. Their next measure was the expulsion of Mgr. Mermillod, Bishop of Hebron and Coadjutor of Geneva. Mgr. Lachat, Bishop of Bale, was then deprived, and, on a purely theological pretext, his public adhesion to the Council of the Vatican. The sixty-nine parish priests of Bernese Jura, having declared in writing that they remained faithful to the Bishop of Bale, were, in their turn, suspended from their offices and driven, at first, from their parishes, and afterwards from the country. As there was not a sufficient number of foreign priests to replace the dispossessed clergy, the number of parishes was arbitrarily reduced from seventy-six to twenty-eight. It was regulated that nominations should, henceforth, be made by the government alone, and by a single stroke of the pen were suppressed, both the Concordat concluded with Rome, in 1828, and the act of re-union of 1815, by which, when Bernese Jura, formerly French, was incorporated with Switzerland, an engagement was made with France to respect, in every way, the liberty of Catholic worship. France was not in a position, at the time, to enforce the terms of the treaty. They who dared to call it to mind, accordingly, were sent to prison or heavily fined.

Almost all the Bernese clergy, when banished from their churches and presbyteries, sought shelter and protection on the hospitable soil of France. From that country they returned often, under cover of night, to their forsaken parishes, in order to administer the sacraments and perform other religious offices for the consolation of their flocks, hastening back to the land of liberty and safety before the approach of day. The persecution was carried to such extremes that the Catholics were not only deprived of their churches, but forbidden, under severe penalties, to assemble for Divine worship, even in barns or such-like places. "As an official of the State of Bearn," wrote a school inspector to a school mistress, "you are bound to strive, with all your might, that the purposes of the said State, as regards attendance at public worship, be carried out. If your conscience does not admit of your attending the Church which is recognized and approved by the government, I leave you at liberty to refrain from attending any worship, but I forbid you to go to the barn, where the deprived parish priest officiates, because I would not have you set a bad example to your children."

No encouragement or word of consolation that Pius IX. could bestow, was wanting to his persecuted children of Switzerland. In addressing Bishop Lachat, whom he received with every mark of friendship, when he came to represent the sad condition to which he was reduced, the Holy Father said: "To you also it is now given to experience the greatest happiness that can fall to the lot of an apostolic man. This happiness is thus expressed in the New Testament: Ibant gaudentes, quoniam digni habiti sunt pro nomine Jesu contumeliam pati. They went away rejoicing, because they were thought worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus."

The Prussian chancellor, as devoid of humanity as he was short-sighted in statesmanship, forbad the exiled clergy of Switzerland to set foot in the annexed Province of Alsace. The brutal conduct of the chancellor could, however, only injure himself. It stigmatizes him as a persecutor throughout the ages, as long as history shall be read, whilst the sufferers to whom he refused shelter and bread, found abundant compensation in the generous hospitality of the French nation.

Mentita est iniquitas sibi. The persecution brought little benefit to either the Protestant or infidel party in the Bernese Legislature, by whom it was inaugurated, whilst the moral power of the Catholics was greatly increased. Travellers relate that "the Catholics of Jura treat with a degree of contempt, as immense as is their faith, the apostate priests who banished the true ministers of God. They assembled in barns and all sorts of out-buildings, all remaining faithful to God, the Holy Church and their parish priests. Faith which slept in some souls is reawakened and endowed with new life. Bernese Jura is more Catholic than ever."

The Central Council of the Swiss Confederation, at length, became ashamed of the inglorious name which the Canton of Bearn was making for the common country—the country of William Tell so highly famed for its love of liberty and its noble hospitality. Perhaps, also, they were not unconcerned to find that travellers from other lands protested, in their way, against the barbarous persecution, and left their money in more favored lands.

The Bernese government was advised, either to proceed legally and regularly against the parish priests, or to recall them. There being nothing on which to found legal proceedings, the exiles returned to their country at the end of 1875. The persecution was not, however, at an end. Neither churches, nor presbyteries, nor liberty, were restored. The faithful clergy, rich in the fidelity of their devoted flocks, fulfilled the duties of their ministry in the darkness of night, using every precaution in order to escape the snares of the police, and to avoid fines and imprisonment, which were now the punishment instead of exile.


Taking leave of the dark and dreary pages which bear the melancholy record of persecution, we turn, with a feeling of relief, to the more cheering picture presented by those countries where the great principle of religious liberty has come, at length, to be fully understood. It was a great day for the united kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, when the legal disabilities which weighed so long on the Catholic people, were removed. It was the noble and powerful protest of a mighty empire against the narrow and irrational spirit of persecution, which still disgraces so many of the European nations. If ever the Catholics, by superiority of numbers, which is far from being an impossible state of things, should come to sway the destinies of that empire, the glorious fact will be remembered and bear its fruit. England, Ireland and Scotland, already enjoy an abundant measure of their reward, in the increase of piety and of that righteousness which exalteth a nation. This is manifest in many ways. It is particularly shown forth by the more friendly feeling towards the Catholics of the empire which now universally prevails. We may not be supposed to know much, here in Canada, about the state of sentiment or opinion in England. But when we appeal to the testimony of so eminent an Englishman as Cardinal Newman, what we affirm cannot be easily gainsaid. In a discourse recently delivered at Birmingham, on the growth of the Catholic Church in England, the very learned cardinal noted the striking contrast between the feeling towards Catholics in Cardinal Wiseman's time and that of the present day, and accounted for the improvement by showing that there is now a much better knowledge of the Catholic religion among Protestants. "What I wish to show," said his Eminence, "and what I believe to be the remarkable fact is, that whereas there have been many conversions to the Catholic Church during the last thirty years, and a great deal of ill-will felt towards us, in consequence, nevertheless, that ill-will has been overcome, and a feeling of positive good-will has been created instead in the minds of our very enemies, by means of those conversions which they feared from their hatred of us. How this was, let me now say: The Catholics in England, fifty years ago, were an unknown sect amongst us. Now there is hardly a family but has brothers or sisters, or cousins or connections, or friends and acquaintances, or associates in business or work, of that religion, not to mention the large influx of population from the sister island: and such an interpenetration of Catholics with Protestants, especially in our great cities, could not take place without there being a gradual accumulation of experience, slow, indeed, but therefore the more sure about individual Catholics, and what they really are in character, and, whether or not, they can be trusted in the concerns and intercourse of life; and I fancy that Protestants, spontaneously, and before setting about to form a judgment, have found them to be men whom they could be drawn to like and to love quite as much as their fellow-Protestants—to be human beings in whom they could be interested and sympathize with, and interchange good offices with, before the question of religion came into consideration."

The increase in the number of Catholics and of Catholic institutions in Great Britain, has kept pace with the growth of friendly sentiments in their regard. That island, "the mother of nations," appears to be destined to unite by means of her ever spreading language, the immense family of mankind. For what end and purpose none can tell. The hidden ways of Divine Providence are known to God alone. We may, nevertheless, in view of certain well-known facts, presume to draw the veil of mystery aside, and discover so far the secret of God's mercy. In Pius the Ninth's time the number of Catholics has been doubled in Great Britain, as well as in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, remote India and the Cape of Good Hope.

At the time of the election of Pius IX., there were in England and Scotland eight hundred and twenty Catholic priests. There are now two thousand and eighty-eight.(12) The number of churches and chapels had grown from six hundred and twenty-six to one thousand three hundred and fifteen. Within the last twenty years religious houses for men had increased from twenty-one to seventy-three, and convents for religious sisters, from ninety-seven to two hundred and thirty-nine. Catholic schools and colleges had more than doubled their number, being now one thousand three hundred, whilst a little over twenty years ago it was five hundred.

In the British colonies, generally, including British America, Australia, India, and the West Indies, there were, in 1855, no more than forty-four Episcopal Sees, several of which owed their erection to Pius IX. By the year 1876, the solicitude of the same venerable Pontiff had raised to eighty-eight, the number of archbishops and bishops who exercised the duties of their sacred office, throughout the Colonial Empire of Great Britain. In the whole empire there cannot be fewer than one hundred and twenty-five prelates, whether vicars-apostolic, archbishops, bishops, or prefects-apostolic.

In no country have the benefits of religious liberty been more abundantly enjoyed than in Canada. In 1869, the two Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, formerly Canada West and Canada East, counted ten dioceses and seven hundred and seventy-nine churches. Including Sherbrooke, Chicoutimi, and the vicariate-apostolic of Northern Canada, there are now thirteen dioceses in the two provinces, whilst, during the seven years anterior to 1876, there was an increase of one hundred and seventy-three churches, making, in all, one thousand one hundred and seventy-one. In the same period religious houses had increased from seventy-three to one hundred and ninety-six. Education of a religious character is, at the same time, amply provided for. There are, in the Province of Quebec, three thousand one hundred and thirty-nine parochial, and altogether three thousand six hundred and thirty elementary schools, for a population of one million eight hundred and eighty-two thousand souls. These schools, without including educational institutions of a more private kind, which are very numerous in Lower Canada (Quebec), allow one school to every six hundred people. It may be doubted whether Prussia, even, which possesses greater facilities for education than any other European country, comes up to this standard. The increase of Catholic people everywhere, throughout the country, keeps pace with the building of churches and the establishing of Catholic schools and other religious institutions. This increase is particularly noticeable in the towns and cities, where the growth of the Catholic population is remarkably rapid.

In all the British dependencies, liberty, as understood by the British people, prevails; and, wherever it is held in honor and exercises its legitimate influence, religion nourishes. Contrast, for instance, Australia, when a penal colony, and when liberty was unknown with Australia, as it is to-day. In 1804 two priests were permitted, by the civil power, to perform the duties of their sacred office. Their labors sufficed for the very limited spiritual wants of the colony. By 1827 these wants had so slightly increased that two priests were still able to meet them all. One of these was Dr. Ullathorne, now Bishop of Birmingham, assisted by another priest and a lay teacher. So late as 1842, matters were little better, Hobart-town having one priest, but no church. Australia, meanwhile, was growing in importance, and it came to possess, as became an important British colony, constitutional government. This was a new era for the cause of religion. Australia has now, 1880, two archbishoprics and ten other episcopal sees. In three of the dioceses, Melbourne, Sandhurst and Perth, there are no fewer than one hundred and thirty-five priests.


At the epoch of Independence, 1776, the number of Catholics in the new republic was estimated at twenty-five thousand. The spiritual wants of this comparatively small body were ministered to by nineteen priests, who were under the jurisdiction of the bishop Vicar-Apostolic of London, England. By 1790, the number of priests was doubled, and a bishop was appointed. In 1840, there were in the United States one million five hundred thousand Catholics. By 1855, they had grown to two millions. In the twenty-one years from 1855 to 1876 the increase was from two millions to six million five hundred thousand. This extraordinary growth, though rapid, was, nevertheless, vigorous and healthy. There was a corresponding increase in the numbers of the clergy, as well as of religious and educational institutions. For the instruction and spiritual comfort of so great a flock, there were, in 1879, no fewer than five thousand three hundred and fifty-eight priests, with fifty-six bishops and archbishops, five thousand and forty-six churches, three thousand seven hundred and eleven oratories and missionary stations. Religious houses have also increased in due proportion. In 1855, there were only fifteen religious houses for men in all the United States. There are now ninety-five. Communities of religious sisters, who chiefly devote themselves to works of charity and instruction, also flourish. In 1855 there were only fifty such communities. There are now two hundred and twenty-five. Educational institutions of a religious character also abound. In 1800, there was only one Catholic academy for girls in all the United States. At the present day they number more than four hundred. Catholic colleges have increased from two to sixty-four.

The number of parochial schools is not so great, in proportion to the population, as in the Province of Quebec. This is accounted for by the still defective state of religious liberty in the United States. There is a sort of State fanaticism there in favor of common or national schools. Whilst Catholics cannot avail themselves of such institutions, which provide only a Godless education, they are, nevertheless, heavily taxed for their support. Being so burdened, it is surely much to the credit of the Catholics of the United States that they, in addition, support two thousand two hundred and forty-four parochial schools, besides six hundred and sixty-three colleges or academies, and twenty-four seminaries, for higher and ecclesiastical education. Notwithstanding the drawback alluded to, Pius IX. entertained a high idea of the North American Republic, and he showed that he did so when he declared that it was almost the only country wherein he could exercise, without hindrance, the duties of his sublime office. He further evinced his appreciation by raising several American bishops to the dignity of archbishop, and one to that of cardinal. The Archbishop of New York is the first American who has enjoyed the high position of cardinal. He was formally thanked for this well-merited honor by the President of the United States, and all America concurred in extolling the wisdom of the choice which gave the dignity to the Most Rev. Archbishop McCloskey, of New York.


One of the latest labors of Pius IX. was that which he undertook, on the urgent request of the Catholics of Scotland, in connection with the restoration of the ancient Scottish hierarchy. The venerable Pontiff, now so far advanced in years, did not live to complete this important work. The late reverend and learned Dr. Grant, President of the Scotch College at Rome, ceased not, meanwhile, to promote, as representing the Catholics of Scotland, the institution of the hierarchy. His knowledge of the country and historical research eminently qualified him for the task. The work, so happily commenced under the auspices of Pius IX., was brought to a conclusion soon after the accession of his successor, Leo XIII. The Most Rev. John Strain, well known as a sound theologian and eminently practical preacher, was appointed Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. The learned prelate thus became the successor of the ancient Archbishops of St. Andrews and Primate of Scotland. The other Episcopal Sees erected were Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dunkeld, Galloway, Argyll and the Isles. Glasgow, in consideration of its former honors, was made an archbishopric, but without suffragans. The archbishop is a member of the Synod of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. To the undying honor of the people of Scotland, there is nothing more to record. There were no commotions, no eloquent appeals for the purpose of allaying groundless fears and calming the popular mind, to burden the tale of the historian. An unsuccessful attempt at riot, by some rowdies, in a city of six hundred thousand souls, confirms rather than derogates from the absolute truth of this statement.

There are already in the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh several important religions institutions. Among these may be mentioned four communities of religious sisters. The sisters, called "Ursulines of Jesus," have two establishments in the city of Edinburgh, and devote themselves entirely to education and charity. There are fifty-four churches, chapels and stations. The missions, properly so-called, are twenty-eight in number, and forty-three priests, of whom thirteen are members of religious societies, perform all the missionary duty and minister to the spiritual wants of the congregations. It cannot be said that education is neglected, and such education as recognizes religious principle; there being, in addition to the convent schools, thirty-six congregational or parochial schools.

In the Archdiocese of Glasgow, one hundred and twenty-one priests, of whom twenty-four are members of religious societies, attend to the spiritual wants of the missions and congregations. The Glasgow missions count fifty-nine, with seventy-eight churches, chapels and stations. The congregational or parochial schools number one hundred and eighty-six, in addition to religious educational institutions.

Aberdeen has forty-seven priests, of whom seven are members of the Benedictine Order. It has thirty-two missions, with fifty-one churches, chapels and stations. Colleges, convents, and congregational schools, are in proportion to the Catholic population.

Dunkeld contains within its borders the important seaport town of Dundee, and the ancient city of Perth, where may still be seen the Church of St. John, against which the Knox Iconoclasts cast the first stone—the sad prelude to their furious onslaught on all the sacred edifices of the land. At Dundee there is a numerous Catholic population. In the whole diocese there are thirty-three priests, of whom twelve are members of the religious Society of Redemptorists. There are religious communities of Sisters of Mercy, Little Sisters of the Poor, and Ursulines of Jesus. The Marist Brothers and Redemptorists have their monasteries, and there is a creditable number of congregational schools.

The ancient See of Whithorn (Candidacasa) is now known as the diocese of Galloway. It dates from St. Ninian, the apostle of the Southern Picts, by whom it was founded in 397. It was destroyed in the time of the Scandinavian invasions, and remained extinct from 808 till 1189. It fell again at the epoch of the Reformation, and had no bishop from the death of Andrew Durie, in 1558, till the appointment of Bishop McLachlan by Leo XIII. The residence of the bishop is at Dumfries, where there is a numerous congregation and an elegant church.

Argyll and the Isles is a diocese full of promise. The traditions of its piety in ancient days are a rich inheritance. It has already thirty-eight churches, chapels and stations, together with some numerous congregations.


About the time of the accession of Pius IX., the Catholic population of the world was estimated by scientific men at two hundred and fifty-four million six hundred and fifty-five thousand (see the Scientific Miscellany of the time). Since that time there has been a very considerable increase. How great it has been we may judge from the statistics with which we are most familiar, those of Great Britain and the British Colonies, as well as those of the United States of America. The eminent statisticians, Drs. Behm and Wagner, hold that the number of Protestants has more than doubled in the same period. Some thirty-five years ago, according to the Scientific Miscellany, the Protestant population of the world was forty-eight million nine hundred and eighty-nine thousand. Without saying that the learned men alluded to are wrong in estimating them now at one hundred and one million, it may be claimed that Catholics have enjoyed at least as great an increase. The tendency of the latter, in the present age, is to spread and to spread rapidly, whilst among Protestants, according to their own ablest writers, there exists no such expansive power. An opinion prevails among those who are not friendly to the Catholic Church, that such an institution can only take root and grow in an age of ignorance, or among ignorant people. This opinion enjoys not the sanction of the most distinguished Protestant authors and preachers. Baron Macaulay writes: "We often hear it said that the world is constantly becoming more and more enlightened, and that the enlightenment must be favorable to Protestantism and unfavorable to Catholicism. We wish that we could think so. But we see great reason to doubt whether this is a well-founded expectation. We see that during the last two hundred and fifty years the human mind has been in the highest degree active; that it has made great advances in every branch of natural philosophy; that it has produced innumerable inventions, tending to promote the convenience of life; that medicine, surgery, chemistry, engineering, have been very greatly improved; that government, police and law, have been improved, though not to so great an extent as the physical sciences. Yet we see that during these two hundred and fifty years Protestantism has made no conquests worth speaking of. Nay, we believe that as far as there has been change, that change has been in favor of the Church of Rome. We cannot, therefore, feel confident that the progress of knowledge will necessarily be fatal to a system which has, to say the least, stood its ground in spite of the immense progress made by the human race in knowledge since the time of Queen Elizabeth." If, then, Protestantism, as regards increase and development, has been at a stand-still for the last two(13) hundred and fifty years, whilst it is admitted on all hands that Catholicism has been growing rapidly, it is not, surely, unreasonable to claim that the increase of Catholics keeps pace with that of Protestants. The claim, however, must be waived, as it would give a greater expansion to the Catholic Church than Catholics can suppose it is entitled to. If the number of Catholics had doubled within the last five-and-thirty or forty years, as that of Protestants is alleged by the learned statisticians to have done, they would now count five hundred and nine million three hundred thousand. Behm and Wagner estimate them at two hundred and seventy million.

Judging by the facts alluded to, this estimate is certainly below the mark, and we shall still be considered as determining for a low figure when we reckon the Catholic population of the whole world at three hundred million.

The heathen masses are still the most numerous. But, if the statement recently made by the Secretary of the Chinese Legation, at Washington, may be relied on, they are not overwhelmingly so. This statement reduces the population of China from the fabulous number of four hundred million to one hundred million. It is not, surely, reasonable to suppose, as the world has so long supposed, that one nation, China, has a population double that of all the nations of India. The whole heathen world, therefore, cannot count more than six hundred and fifty million souls—too many to be still in darkness and the shadow of death. But let each believer labor to convert a heathen, and there will be light at last. The believing portion of mankind is not so far behind, in point of numbers, at least. It consists of (according to Drs. Behm and Wagner):

300,000,000 Catholics. 90,000,000 members of the Greek Church. 101,000,000 Protestants. 7,000,000 Jews.


The 3rd of June, 1877, was a great day for Rome and the Catholic world. Of all the fetes which Plus IX. was favored to celebrate, there was none more honored than the anniversary of his episcopal consecration. One would say that the faithful Catholic people everywhere had resolved to make it an occasion of protesting against the treatment to which the venerable Pontiff was subjected, and the false principles which governed the Italian faction, by which he was so cruelly persecuted. Pilgrims came from all lands and crowded the streets of the Papal city; for such it still was. Notwithstanding all the efforts of the usurping government, the Roman people acknowledged no other ruler at Rome than the Holy Father. During six months of the year 1877, the devoted Catholics of every nation ceased not to throng the streets, the approaches to and from the halls of the Vatican Palace. Nor did they come empty-handed. They were literally laden with gold and silver, together with an endless variety of other rich and appropriate gifts. A month before the anniversary day, there were already five hundred chalices, as well as other church plate, jewellery, vestments, altar linens, etc., deposited in the Vatican. An eye-witness beheld these precious offerings suitably laid out in one of the largest galleries, forming an immense treasury, from which the benevolent Pontiff supplied the poorer missions throughout the world. Congratulatory addresses were constantly presented, and Pius IX. was indefatigable in receiving these proofs of the faith and love of his spiritual children. Day after day he made replies to deputations, and often, four times a day without appearing fatigued or giving any sign that his bodily strength or vigor of mind was failing him. Day after day, throughout the whole summer of 1877, the faithful people ceased not to astonish the new masters of Rome, who flattered themselves with the belief that faith was dead in the world, and would no longer be an impediment to their domination. They beheld pilgrims from every clime in vast numbers, of which they could form no estimate. They also heard their voice, and wondered at their admirable unanimity. "All of us, whoever we are, Christians of every nation and of every tongue," said the Bishop of Poitiers, speaking in the name of his fellow-Catholics, "we have all been brought here by the desire, the necessity we are under, to offer our tribute of regret and love to the venerated Pontiff, whom the whole world honors with all the veneration of filial duty. After having placed at his feet our presents and our respectful homage, we come to offer, in this sanctuary, our thanksgiving and our prayers—our thanksgiving, for Pius IX. has been preserved to us beyond the term of all preceding Pontificates—our prayers for his remaining in this life is, at present, our only pledge of safety."(14)

On occasion of the memorable anniversary, Pius IX. proclaimed a jubilee, and thus afforded to all his children throughout the universe an opportunity of uniting with those of Rome in one common prayer and act of thanksgiving. Numberless communions, in every Catholic land, on the very day of the anniversary—3rd June—bore witness to the lively faith which universally prevailed, and made it plain as noon-day to the unbelieving that the body of the Church is united by the bond of charity, even as is the family by the ties of blood. The power of such a celebration was widely felt. And the revolutionists of Italy believed that something must be done in order to counteract its influence. They could not propose, as they had done six years before on occasion of the anniversary of Pius the Ninth's exaltation to the Popedom, to display on all the public edifices of Rome the flag of revolutionized Italy in fraternal union with that of the Pontiff and the Church. It must, therefore, be unfurled in direct opposition to the cause of the Holy Father. A festive commemoration of the "constitutional statute" was ordered to be held on the 3rd June, the day of the Papal celebration. The scheme proved to be more than a failure. It was intended as an insult to the Pope and protest against the Christian faith. In reality it became a testimony which redounded to the honor of the Holy Father and the glory of religion. What cared the Romans, or the people of the Roman territory, for the "constitutional statute" of Charles Albert? Their vivats were all for Pius IX. and his more constitutional constitution.

"Long live Pius IX.!—Pius IX., our only King!" No other cry was heard in the streets of Rome, or in the wide campagna. The populations of the country as well as of the city were alike devoted to Pius IX., and would have no other to rule over them. The usurping revolutionists must needs retaliate. In doing so, they still more degraded their fete of the "constitutional statute."

On occasion of royal fetes, favors are liberally dispensed. This order of things was now reversed. Parties convicted of illuminating their houses, of displaying white and yellow colors, or of expressing in words their loyalty to Pius IX., were sentenced to imprisonment.


Shortly before the anniversary celebration, Pius IX. had to lament the death of his faithful Secretary of State, Cardinal Antonelli. This intrepid statesman had done battle courageously during six-and-twenty years for the Church, the Holy See and the temporal sovereignty of the Roman Pontiff, who had been threatened in his life, his priestly honor and his character for integrity. The devoted cardinal defied both the poniard and the tongue of the calumniator. Although able to unmask the most secret intrigues of the revolutionists, he could not avert the blow which it was permitted that they should strike against the time-honored institutions of his country. They appear to have been destined to reign for a time. Their success did not appal Antonelli nor shake his fidelity. In evil report and good report he stood by his sovereign, and shared his exile as well as the honor which he enjoyed in the more auspicious days of his glorious Pontificate.

Three weeks later, Cardinal Patrizi, who was Vicar of Rome and chief counsellor of Pius IX. in all matters connected with the government of the church, was called from this earthly scene. Thus was the aged Pontiff destined to be tried by new afflictions. The success of his enemies and of the enemies of the Church, the privation and humiliation to which he was subjected, were rendered more severe by the death of his dearest friends who were also his ablest supporters. He was grieved, but could not be crushed by so many calamities. He remained until his health utterly failed equal to his high position.

An additional cause of sorrow to the Holy Father was the enactment of the Italian Legislature, known as the Mancini law. This law was in downright opposition to the law of guarantees. It made it a crime to preach the Gospel. On pretence of repressing the abuses of the clergy, their offences against the laws and institutions of the State, it forbade all apostolic preaching. It was too late. Nero, even, was not in time, and all the fury of persecution could not uproot the belief in virtue which prevailed. The clergy shall no longer say that fraud, robbery, lying, violence and assassination are sins. But cui bono? The world has already its convictions—prejudices, the philosophy of Kulturkampf may call them—in regard to all such things, and no law that an infidel parliament can enact will suffice to eradicate them. It could only sadden the heart of the Chief Pastor to see the power which ruled in his country and in his stead laboring so strenuously but ineffectually to demolish the edifice of the church, which, for so many ages, had been assailed in vain. It was the height of presumption, surely, when a few modern Italians, a miserable minority of their own nation, undertook a task which defied all the power of Imperial Rome. In a country where liberty is better understood, a powerful voice was raised in condemnation of the Mancini law. The British Catholic Union protested against the cruel enactment as an attack not only on the liberty of the Church but also on the very existence of the Christian faith in Italy. This purpose was, indeed, avowed by many of its supporters in the Italian parliament.

Pius IX. could not fail to protest against such an attack on that liberty which is the birthright of every Christian. In a Consistorial Allocution of 12th March, 1877, he exposed the plot which the revolutionists had prepared in order to prevent the Holy Father from accomplishing his appointed mission—that of instructing and edifying the whole flock of Christ. That his protest was fully justified and demanded by the circumstances of the case was abundantly shown by the rage which it excited among the ruling faction. Their press did its best to dissemble, and affected to treat with contempt the Pope's address. It contained only "lame and doubtful reasonings—such arguments as are termed paralogisms or involuntary sophisms, which escape the notice of their authors." The government, in unison with the press, sought to stifle the importunate voice of the Pontiff. The council of ministers went so far as to resolve on prosecuting any journals that should dare to publish the Papal allocution. But they found it was too late. The obnoxious document was already printed in France, and, consequently, open to the civilized world. So the wrath of the ministry was allowed to cool. It sought, nevertheless, to be revenged. The minister of justice, accordingly, addressed a circular to the procurators-general, in which he denounced the language of Pius IX. as "excessive and violent." The Pope himself he railed was a factious person, as a fomenter of sedition and revolt. He also charged him with ingratitude. For what was he ungrateful? Had they not robbed him of his sovereignty and his property? Did they not now hold him closely guarded in the Vatican? They spared his life, indeed, but made him understand that he was their prisoner, as, in reality, he was. To have gone farther would have been to outrage all Italy, which they were so anxious to conciliate, and the great Powers, whose forbearance they so much needed. Cardinal Simeoni, who had succeeded Antonelli as Secretary of State, in a circular addressed to the Papal nuncios, pointed out the weakness and gross injustice of Mancini's letter. The secret societies, on the other hand, congratulated their most dear and most active brother, and expressed the hope that he would not stop until he reached the end to which he so nobly tended. The minister of justice fully acceded to the wishes of the brethren, and they could rely upon it that he would persevere until he compassed the destruction of the Papacy. Such good resolutions deserved a reward. They awarded him, accordingly, what they called a diploma of honor.

The Mancini law, notwithstanding all the efforts of its supporters, never became law. There is not much in this history to be placed to the credit of Victor Emmanuel. Nevertheless, he, all of a sudden, opposed the enactment of the odious law which he had allowed to be prepared and presented in his name to the representative chamber. By expressing his repugnance to it, he caused it to fail in the Senate. It is related that it was on the representation of his daughter, the Princess Clotilde, that he so acted.


One of the most daring enterprises of the Italian ministry was their scheme, in conjunction with the Prussian chancellor, for the election of a Pope on the demise of Pius IX. Hitherto, when the Popes enjoyed their temporal sovereignty, the Cardinal Camerlingo, or high chamberlain, directed everything from the time of the Pope's decease until the election of a successor. It was the purpose of the ministry to arrogate to themselves the attributes of this high dignitary, who acted, temporarily, as the Sovereign of Rome. For the attainment of their end, fraud, lying and forgery were freely had recourse to. It being understood that there existed a Bull relating to the election of Pius the Ninth's successor, and that it was in the custody of Mgr. Mercurelli, the Secretary of Pontifical briefs, a high price was offered to any one who should treacherously deliver it into the hands of the revolutionists. Such a temptation was not to be resisted. A cunning scribe, who could imitate the handwriting of Mercurelli, made a copy of an ancient Bull of Pius VI., adapting it to the circumstances of the time. To the great confusion of the astute chancellor and his associates, the Italian ministers, the forgery was discovered, and the sage statesmen befooled in the sight of all Europe by a common felon. Nothing, however, was to be left undone that was calculated, as the conspirators conceived, to secure the election of a Pope who would reject the decisions of the Vatican Council. For this end it was proposed to take military possession of the Vatican Palace, and appoint a commissioner to superintend the election and carry out the views of the faction. This iniquitous plot appears to have been overthrown by a vigorous article which was published in the Osservatore Romano. It is said to have been inspired by Pius IX. It stated, among other things, that "the Vatican changes not with the changes of the times, and the Lord, who has protected it in the past, and given visible proofs of His continued protection, will protect it in the future, and defend it against all, whatever artifices, whether secret or open, its enemies may employ, in order to conquer and overthrow it." The revolutionary journals, whose constant cry was "war to the knife" on the Church and the Papacy, could not refrain from expressing their astonishment, it ought to be said their admiration, of this masterly document. "It is impossible," said the Republique Francaise of 28th July, 1877, "not to be struck by the tone of authority, the vehemence and the menaces, the ardent and deep-rooted faith which prevail from beginning to end of this extraordinary production."


In the autumn of 1877, the health of Pius IX. began to fail. He caught cold and had a renewal of rheumatic attacks. He was obliged, in consequence, to discontinue giving audiences. Finally, by the advice of his physicians, he kept his bed continuously for three weeks, from 20th November. The Pope's indisposition appears to have been quite a God-send to the ever-busy press of the hostile faction. There were, of course, spasms, fainting fits, mortification of the extremities, etc. The Pope is dying—the Pope is dead!—and the enemy rejoiced, as over a hard-won victory. But the end was not yet. The Holy Father recovered, and was able to hold a Consistory and deliver an allocution on the 28th of December.

There was one at Rome who felt differently from the party with whom he acted in regard to the illness and possible death of the Pope. This was no other than King Victor Emmanuel. The dethroned Pontiff was still a power that helped to stem the tide of red republican revolution which rolled so angrily against the tottering throne of united Italy. The barrier was in danger. Only the slender thread of an exhausted life saved it from giving way. The king was awe-struck, and sought comfort in the Palace of the Vatican.(15)

What passed at the extraordinary interview none will ever know. All that can be found on record is that the King of Italy retired with a lightened heart from the mansion of the Sovereign Pontiff. Pardon, benediction, renewal of promises—what may there not have been? That the meeting was not without result, an event which was not at that time far distant clearly shows.

The restoration of Pius IX. to comparative health was matter for thanksgiving and congratulation. A consistory was held, accordingly, on the 28th of December, 1877. The cardinals having assembled, the Holy Father thus addressed them: "We rejoice in the Lord at having experienced how faithfully you sustain the burden of the apostolic ministry; and, at the same time, for having enjoyed the sweet consolation to find the sorrows of our soul alleviated by your virtue and the constant affection of your charity." The venerable Pontiff concluded this address, which was destined to be his last in solemn consistory, by inviting the members of the Sacred College "to offer up their prayers assiduously to the throne of Divine mercy for himself and for the Church," representing that the strength of Christians is in prayer, in the power of God, which the prayer of His creature, made in his image, causes to be exerted. And who is stronger than God? Quis ut Deus?

The aged Pontiff, whom the revolutionists of Italy and other countries cried out against with such vehemence of hatred and malediction, asked no other favor for himself of the Supreme Giver than the pleasure to impart once more his benediction from the Vatican to the city and the whole world. On occasion of some foreign ladies resident at Rome coming to present him with a rich canopy for decorating the Vatican lodge, at the benediction he gave utterance to the following prayer: "Lend new strength, O Lord, to Thy Vicar on earth; give new vigor to his voice and to his arm, in order that, in the present crisis, it may be permitted him, as a sign of reconciliation and peace to bless once more solemnly the whole Catholic people, and that thus, through Thy assistance, society may be restored to a state of tranquillity and the practice of all the Christian virtues." He adored, without knowing it, the Divine will, which was not that he should ever again impart his apostolic benediction from the Vatican. This he knew not, and could not pretend to know. But he was comforted in the firm belief that the benediction would never cease to be dispensed. On the same day, he said, addressing the Roman ladies who presented a carpet for the solemn benediction: "At this time of darkness and tribulation, when we are in the power of our enemies, you may say to me: 'We have exerted ourselves so much, we have offered up so many prayers, shed so many tears, and, notwithstanding, all to no purpose.' The time will come when this present will be made use of. Tota nocte laborantes.... The Romans have, indeed, prayed. They have given signal proof of their fidelity and their piety, amid the gloom and trouble of our national catastrophes, and why have they, as yet, obtained nothing? But what do I say? Are those evidences of affection which every day reach the Holy See to be reputed as nothing? Is that earnestness of prayer which prevails at Rome and throughout the Catholic world to no purpose? In the most desert regions and remotest countries vows and prayers are offered up for our deliverance. Your prayers and communions are so many petitions, laid at the foot of the altar, which cannot fail to be heard. As our Lord, who was pleased to show Peter where to cast his nets, in order to have an abundant draught of fish, teaches us also how we shall escape from the abyss of calamity into which our sins, perhaps, have thrown us.... Although I, who, at present, am the Vicar of Christ, may not, one of my successors will, see Rome, which is our city, restored to its pristine state, tranquil and flourishing as it was some months ago. He will also behold all the rights of this Holy See completely recovered."

By one of two things only, as far as man can see, is it possible that Italy should be emancipated from its present bondage, and governed according to the wishes of its people. A constitutional monarchy, such as Pius IX. sought so long to establish, would be the most secure and permanent guarantee for peace and liberty in the south of Europe. A remedy for present evils may also be found in a thoroughly representative system of government, which the system that prevails for the moment in Italy has no claim to be. There cannot, however, be representative government so long as the Italian people allow a reckless faction, which is only a small minority of the nation, to control the elections, monopolize the votes, and constitute themselves the legislature of the country. Patience is a virtue. But it may be abused. It certainly has been so in the case of Italy, and by a base conspiracy. When will the people arise in their might, and, by their immense superiority in numbers as well as intelligence, cast off the yoke of the conspirators—the incubus which crushes and degrades them in the eyes of mankind?


On the 29th December, 1877, King Victor Emmanuel came to Rome on business of the State, as if the city of the Popes were de jure as well as de facto his capital. On the 31st of the same month, his ministers induced him to affix his royal signature to some new acts of brigandage and usurpation, which they had prepared, but which could not be accomplished until the death of Pius IX. At the same time, a decree regulating the funeral of the Pope was drawn up and signed by the king. Royal honors were to be restored, but only when they could not be enjoyed. The Holy Father, although stripped of his sovereignty in life, was to be honored when dead as a sovereign prince. It was appointed that mourning should be worn throughout all the Kingdom of Italy. Court liveries, even, were got ready, and also the minutest details of mourning apparel. Nothing was wanting but death—and death came—but not the death that was so ardently desired. Scarcely had Victor Emmanuel signed the funeral decree, which was intended to be, at the same time, the death-warrant of the Papacy and the Church, when he was taken suddenly ill. He was anxious to leave Rome, where his stay was always as short as possible, but was detained by the receptions of New Year's day, and in order to attend a diplomatic dinner on the 6th of January. On that very day, a three-fold malady laid him on his deathbed. He became at once the victim of pleuro-pneumonia, together with the fatal malaria and miliary fevers. There was no hope of his recovery. To leave Rome was impossible. "Carry me hence, at any rate," cried the dying king, in an agony of horror; "I must not die at the Quirinal." It was too late. The physicians would not allow him to be moved. Unhallowed force placed him in the sacred palace of the Conclave. Greater force held him there. The prince who said, "We are at Rome and at Rome we shall remain," was doomed to die at Rome. After death, too, he must remain at Rome, notwithstanding the wishes of all his kindred and of his son and successor. The new king expressed to a deputation of the municipality of Turin with what pain he made the sacrifice which policy required. The policy of the revolutionary faction would not allow Victor Emmanuel to have his last resting-place with his ancestors at the Superga. Policy forbade that death even should liberate him who was called the liberator of Italy. Policy hoped to perpetuate usurpation, by holding the usurper in the usurped capital. The dead king remained in death, as he had ever been in life, the captive of the faction.

As soon as Pius IX. became aware of the critical state of King Victor Emmanuel, he sent to him his own chaplain, Bishop Marinelli, with full authority to reconcile the dying monarch to the church on his expressing repentance and retracting. This dignitary went thrice to the palace, and was as often repelled by the watchful ministers, who strictly guarded the person of the king. They dreaded lest so public a retractation as he was, at the time, able to make, and as would have been required, should prove injurious to their schemes. Later, when there was no hope of recovery, anxious that the king should have the credit of being at peace with the Church, they allowed his own chaplain, the Rev. Signor Azenio, to approach his bed-side. This worthy priest, being fully authorized, heard the confession of King Victor Emmanuel, and administered to him the Sacraments of the Church. As the most Holy Sacrament was borne to the monarch's deathbed, Prince Humbert, Princess Margaret, and, together with them, ten ministers and dignitaries of the Court, bearing lighted torches, accompanied the priest: and as Victor Emmanuel received the Viaticum and Extreme Unction, they all fell upon their knees. (9th January, 1878.) This conclusion, so consoling to the departing soul, was gall and wormwood to the worldly ministers. The founder of United Italy, before he could have the benefit of the last sacred rites, prayed to be pardoned all his crimes against the Sovereign Pontiff and the Church. By acknowledging and condemning his faults, he also condemned the unhallowed work which was forwarded by so much usurpation and sacrilege. The Christian-like end of Victor Emmanuel did not meet the views of the ministers. (Osservatore Romano of 10th January.) Accordingly, they endeavored immediately to lessen its effect on the public mind. Their journals, unable to deny the truth, even acknowledging the benefit they had by the king's confession and communion, cunningly labored to counteract the same by the grossest misrepresentation. They related that the king, at the moment of his death, had spoken both as a Christian and an infidel revolutionist. They made him thus retract his retractation. "In all that I have done, I am conscious of having always fulfilled my duties as a citizen and a prince, and of having done nothing against the religion of my ancestors." As his conscience was thus at ease, for what did he beg pardon of the Sovereign Pontiff and the Church? Of what could he repent who acknowledged no sin?

L'Osservatore Romano, in reply, reiterated all that it had already stated on the highest authority. "Let there be an end, once for all," said this excellent journal, "to the profane language which dares rashly to intervene between the dying man and his God, of whom the priest is the representative. The Church, appealed to on so short a notice, and in the awful hour of the death agony, mercifully extends her hand to him who is about to approach the presence of the Sovereign Judge, and opens to him, as far as possible, the way of salvation; but she strictly sees to it that her holy laws be fully observed." Policy makes laws which it violates as easily as it makes them. The Church can never break her laws, which are of Divine origin. Victor Emmanuel, accordingly, must have submitted to the laws of the Church, in order to be reconciled to the Church, to Pius IX. and to God.

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