Pope Pius IX, Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, Italy

Blessed Pius IX

died 1878
feast – February 7

Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, an Italian noble, was ordained in 1819, despite poor health. Known for his pastoral commitment and eucharistic and Marian devotions, he rose from Vatican diplomat in Chile to archbishop of Spoleto and Imola, to cardinal. He was elected pope in 1846. His 31-plus-year papacy, the longest in history, was marked by the loss of the Papal States during Italian uni cation, the convening of the First Vatican Council, and the declaration of the Immaculate Conception as a dogma of faith.

He also restored Catholic hierarchy in England and Holland, sent missionaries to the North Pole and Asia, and condemned modern heresies. He was beatified in 2000.