Pope Pious IX
born May 13, 1792 in Sinigaglia, died February 7, 1878 in Rome
No other successor of St Peter has worn the Roman triple crown for as long as Giovanni Maria Conte Mastai-Ferretti, who ascended to the papal throne as Pope Pious IX in 1846. Pope Pious' pontificate was notable not only for its length, but also for the decisions the pope made which were to have a significant effect on the future, for instance the defence of the sovereignty of the papal state during the Italian war of independence, the convening of the first Vatican Council, the dogma of papal infallibility, and the completion of various concordats.
In his youth, Pious IX had a sickly constitution and suffered epileptic seizures. After making a 'recovery', he was ordained at the age of 27 (1819). During the time he spent as priest, bishop, cardinal and pope (from 1846 on), epileptic seizures are never mentioned. (In 1918 a condition was entered in the Codex Juris Canonici, the official statute book of the Roman Catholic Church, stating that men with epilepsy could not become priests. This passage was removed in 1983.)
Pope Pious' frail health in his childhood and the epilepsy he suffered as a young man do not appear to have diminished his creativity and steadfastness in the face of the immense mental and physical strain of his papacy in turbulent times (which included his flight from Rome, exile and imprisonment). Pious died in 1879 at the age of 85.
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