Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Blessed Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX with some prelates at the Vatican.
Today the church celebrates the feast of Blessed Pope Pius IX, the longest reigning Pope in history. Born in Senigallia, Italy, on May 13 1792 as Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, he was head of the Catholic Church from June 16, 1846 to his death on February 7, 1878, exactly 140 years ago today. During his pontificate, Pius IX convened the First Vatican Council (1869–70), which decreed papal infallibility. One interesting fact that many people don’t know is that he was ordained a priest by a Maltese Cardinal. It was Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata (1 April 1757 - 3 August 1843) who ordained Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti a priest on April 10, 1819. The Maltese prelate served as Bishop of Senigallia from 1818 until his death in 1843. In his younger years, Pope Pius IX was Archbishop of Spoleto between 1827 and 1832. He was a Marian Pope, who in his encyclical Ubi Primum described Mary as a Mediatrix of salvation. In 1854, he promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, articulating a long-held Catholic belief that Mary, the Mother of God, was conceived without original sin. Pius IX will always be remembered for the many concordats agreed and signed, and helping many developing nations. 
Blessed Pope Pius IX (1792-1878)
On another note Pope Pius IX was instrumental in erecting the Diocese of Gozo as a separate Diocese from mainland Malta. After a long-winded correspondence and various meetings, on July 14, 1864, the Holy See initiated the proceedings for the eventual establishment of the diocese. On 16 September, Pope Pius IX approved the decision through the Bull ‘Singulari Amore’  (With Remarkable Love) establishing Gozo and Comino a separate Diocese directly subjected to the Holy See. On September 22, Bishop Michele Francesco Buttigieg was elected first bishop of Gozo. On October 23, he made his joyous entry into the new Cathedral amidst the deafening cheers and enthusiastic applause of his devoted flock. 
Pius IX celebrated his silver jubilee in 1871, going on to have the longest reign in the history of the Papacy, 31 years, 7 months and 23 days. Together with Pope St. John XXIII, he was beatified on September 3, 2000 after the recognition of a miracle. Pius IX was assigned the liturgical feast of February 7, the date of his death. 

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