Pope Pius IX (13 May 1792-7 February 1878), in history known as Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning Roman Pontiff in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until death, nearly 32 years.
The future pope was the archbishop of his hometown of Spoleto and later of Imola. Personal attributes related show him to be known for his charitable work among the poor, care for educating his people and the formation of clergy; he had a keen intellect, prayerful, was friendly and engaging. He was an advocate of making administrative changes in the Papal States. He was a cardinal in pectore in 1839 and later revealed in 1840.
Following the death of Gregory XVI, Ferretti was elected pope in 1846 with neither diplomatic nor curial experience, a source of great tension for some.
Pope Pius convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and granted the Marian title of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, a famous Byzantine icon from Crete entrusted to the Redemptorist priests which now hangs in their church on the Via Merulana. He was the “Marian Pope.”
Pius IX was also the last pope to rule as the Sovereign of the Papal States, which fell to Italian nationalists by 1870 and were incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy.
Thereafter, Pius became the first “Prisoner of the Vatican.” Pius is also the origin of the collection taken annual called the “Peter’s Pence.”
Pope Pius IX was beatified in 2000.