Italy and the Vatican at War: A Study of Their Relations from the Outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War to the Death of Pius IX

Italy and the Vatican at War: A Study of Their Relations from the Outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War to the Death of Pius IX

Italy and the Vatican at War: A Study of Their Relations from the Outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War to the Death of Pius IX

Italy and the Vatican at War: A Study of Their Relations from the Outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War to the Death of Pius IX

Excerpt

On April 29, 1848, Pope Pius IX proclaimed his refusal to join the national "crusade" against Austria. This gesture produced one of the gravest crises of the Italian Risorgimento. It destroyed the neo-Guelfist dream and sowed dissension among Italians by placing religion and church in opposition to country. In its wake came a republican uprising in Rome, Pius' flight to Gaeta, and his eventual restoration by the French. The latter's protracted occupation of the papal capital thrust the so-called Roman question into the foreground as one of the most formidable barriers to the unification of the peninsula. The once liberal and patriotic pontiff was now the archadversary of the Italian national program. Until 1859 his extensive domain in central Italy was unmolested. But in that year France and Sardinia waged a successful war against Austria. There ensued a series of revolutions and military occupations which resulted in the transfer of large portions of the peninsula to the Sardinian kingdom. Pius was one of the principal victims. He saw the ancient papal provinces of Romagna, Umbria, and the Marches pass into the hands of the House of Savoy. In 1860 only Rome and the surrounding territory known as the Patrimony of St. Peter remained in the possession of the Holy See.

It was at this rather inauspicious juncture that Count Camillo di Cavour, the Piedmontese statesman whose consummate diplomacy had brought into being a united Italy, turned to the embittered pontiff in the hope of inducing him to relinquish Rome itself. He offered, in return for the surrender of the Eternal City, to recognize the pope as a nominal and inviolable sovereign, guarantee his spiritual independence, and bestow upon the Italian clergy complete immunity from governmental interference. Success would have fitting-

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