|Pope Pius IX|
Pope Pius IX was born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti at Sinigaglia on May 13, 1792, and died in Rome on February 7, 1878. As a young man, he desired to be a member of the papal noble guard, but was refused admission because he suffered from epilepsy. He instead studied for the priesthood and was ordained a priest in 1819 and archbishop of Spoleto in 1827. He was moved to the diocese of Imola and made a cardinal in 1840.
Mastai-Ferretti was elected pope on June 16, 1846. He had many domestic challenges in Italy that occupied his early papacy. King Victor Emmanuel II defeated the papal army in 1860 and 10 years later seized Rome and made it the capital city of a united Italy.
Problems with most of the nations of Europe compelled Pius IX to use diplomacy to fight against the expulsion of Catholic clergy and a general feeling of anti-Catholicism throughout the continent. His lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary compelled him to circulate letters to the world’s bishops in regard to the subject of her immaculate conception.
On December 8, 1854, he promulgated the Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. He convoked the Vatican I Council, which declared the dogma of papal infallibility that establishes that the pope, when speaking on matters of faith and morals, is infallible in his teachings. At 32 years, his pontificate is the longest in history. He was beatified on September 3, 2000, by Pope John Paul II.