Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Pio Nono

Today the Roman Martyrology lists, among others:

Romae, beati Pii papa Noni, qui, veritatem Christi, cui ab imo adhaesit, plane proclamans, multas instituit sedes episcopales, cultum beatae Mariae Virginis promovit et Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum Primum ascivit.

Blessed Pius IX is remembered for his proclamation of the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility, the calling of the First Vatican Council, the re-establishment of the English Catholic Hierarchy in 1850 and his sufferings during the Revolution of 1848 and the subsequent Italian Risorgimento.

At the Beatification Mass, John Paul II said:

Listening to the words of the Gospel acclamation: 'Lord, lead me on a straight road', our thoughts naturally turn to the human and religious life of Pope Pius IX, Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti. Amid the turbulent events of his time, he was an example of unconditional fidelity to the immutable deposit of revealed truths. Faithful to the duties of his ministry in every circumstance, he always knew how to give absolute primacy to God and to spiritual values. His lengthy pontificate was not at all easy and he had much to suffer in fulfilling his mission of service to the Gospel. He was much loved, but also hated and slandered.

However, it was precisely in these conflicts that the light of his virtues shone most brightly: these prolonged sufferings tempered his trust in divine Providence, whose sovereign lordship over human events he never doubted. This was the source of Pius IX's deep serenity, even amid the misunderstandings and attacks of so many hostile people. He liked to say to those close to him: 'In human affairs we must be content to do the best we can and then abandon ourselves to Providence, which will heal our human faults and shortcomings'.

Sustained by this deep conviction, he called the First Vatican Ecumenical Council, which clarified with magisterial authority certain questions disputed at the time, and confirmed the harmony of faith and reason. During his moments of trial Pius IX found support in Mary, to whom he was very devoted. In proclaiming the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, he reminded everyone that in the storms of human life the light of Christ shines brightly in the Blessed Virgin and is more powerful than sin and death.

Vultus Christ has a nice post on Pio Nono; there is a good Italian website on him here. It's still not too late to buy a recreated bottle of Pio Nono's aftershave, which I fully recommend. And, finally, here is a picture of his death mask:

Blessed Pius IX, pray for us!

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Anonymous Andrew said...

I hope that Pio Nono aftershave is well worth the buy Father!

2:24 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

It is indeed!

3:10 pm  
Blogger FJM Madden said...

I have a little information on Pius IX on my Blog - Lover of Futility. You might enjoy a look!

10:51 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Thanks. I thought for a moment that your post on Pio Nono was entitled 'Lover of Futility' and relieved to find it's the name of your blog!

9:19 am  
Anonymous Brian B. said...

Do you approve of the fact that apparently Pio Nono "cultum beatae Mariae Virginis promovit"? Looks pretty dodgy to me, but then I'm a card-carrying pagan and don't pretend to understand these things....


2:24 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Brian, thanks so much for showing an interest in my blog.

It will come as no surprise to you that, as a Catholic priest, I rejoice in the fact that Pius IX 'cultum beatae Mariae Virginis promovit'. However, I can understand why this phrase might lead to misunderstandings amongst non-Catholics.

I won't write an essay in reply, but here is a brief summary of the RC position. Catholics do not worship the Virgin Mary. God is the only One who can be worshipped and adored. But we do honour and venerate the saints, and chief amongst them Our Lady. This is because the saints are models to us for living the Christian life in the world and they can help us by their intercession.

Despite being one of us, Mary was chosen to be the Mother of God, Jesus Christ. Through her maternity, in other words, God became man and entered our sinful world. And becuse of this great mission, she was given certain privileges. One of these is particularly associated with Pius IX, because he solemnly proclaimed it as Catholic dogma - the Immaculate Conception (ie that, in order to prepare her for her role as Mother of God, she was preserved from stain of sin from the moment of her conception).

Like all Popes - and all Catholics - Pio Nono honoured the Virgin Mary and encouraged devotion to her. Not because she is a goddess. But because she brought Jesus into the world and even now brings people to her Son -as the old Catholic maxim goes, 'to Jesus through Mary.'

If you happen to be cycling past my church on the Balls Pond Rd, feel free to pop in for a cup of coffee. And best wishes for your mega-blog!

God bless

3:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the enigmas of the cult of Blessed Pope Pius IX is that it is almost impossible to get near his tomb in S. Lorenzo, Rome. Before he was beatified it was quite easy to visit the chapel. Three times I've attempted to see his body laid out in a crystal casket but on all occasions you can only look over a wall at a distance. There is no sign of a cult - no votive candles, lamps, prayer cards, signs of devotion - and all that lay close to his body were two vases of artificial gladioli. Have you an explanation for this extraordinary state of affairs? Nobody at the basilica is willing to help. Surely the newly-beatified deserve better?

8:52 pm  

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