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Blessed Pope Pius IX

Born: May 3rd, 1792     Died: February 7th, 1878
Feast Day: February 7th

What he said

"The spiritual takes precedence over the temporal."

What the world was like

During Pope Pius IX's lifetime, Napoleon's French army invaded Italy and remained there for 20 years. Italy was not one country; rather it was made up of many city-states. A city-state was made up of a city and the region surrounding it. Each city-state had its own government. Many of these city-states fought with each other and with other countries. Because of this fighting, Italy began working to become one unified country. During Pope Pius IX's lifetime, the Italians finally united their country. Rome was made the capital of Italy.

Pope Pius IX was born during the French Revolution and when George Washington was president of the United States of America. During his lifetime, Abraham Lincoln was president and the American Civil War was fought. Alaska was purchased from Russia. The first railroad linking eastern United States to California was completed. In other parts of the world, Ireland suffered the potato famine and the Suez Canal was opened.

Department stores, public buses and subways were invented. The telephone, the light bulb, and the phonograph were also invented during Pope Pius IX's lifetime. The first postage stamp was introduced. Anesthesia was used for the first time in an operation. The periodic table was discovered and the first construction of a steel framed skyscraper was completed.

Mark Twain wrote the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Jules Verne wrote Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Who he was

Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti was born in Italy into a noble family. He was kind-hearted, friendly, and generous. He attended the Piarist College in Rome. Giovanni wanted to be a member of the Noble Guard whose job it was to escort the Pope when he traveled. He was not allowed to be a member of this group because he suffered from epileptic attacks. He then decided to study theology and became a priest.

As a priest, Giovanni went to Chile and Peru to assist in missionary work. Because of this trip, he is remembered as the first pope to visit South America. When he returned, he became an archbishop and later, a cardinal. As a leader in the church, he tried to persuade people to live in peace with their enemies and show mercy towards one another.

In 1846, Giovanni was elected Pope. As pope, Giovanni denounced secret societies and communism. He proved to be a great leader in spiritual matters. The first Vatican Council took place while he was pope. This council proclaimed the infallibility of the pope. This means that when making decisions about faith and morals for the Church, the pope cannot be wrong. As Pope Pius IX, Giovanni declared that Mary was born without sin. The Church celebrates this today as the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Pius IX was pope longer than any other pope -- thirty-two years.

What this person means to us today

Pope Pius IX was a great leader in spiritual matters. The Catholic Church still celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and believes that the Pope is infallible as stated by the first Vatican Council.

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