Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara - POPE PIUS IX GETS INVOLVED

In the Harper’s Weekly issue of February 9, 1867 (at page 84), we find a story about Pope Pius IX. People were upset that he would not let Protestants worship in Rome. It was this same Pope who did not reverse the actions of Catholic officials who had kidnapped Edgardo Mortara from his parents (and then refused to return him to his home). Click on the image for a full-page review of the story.


It appears that Pope Pius IX was directly involved in decisions affecting Edgardo when the kidnapped boy was living in Rome. It was Pius, for example, who decided that the child (by then seven years old) would study at San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains), one of the most famous churches in the city.

Not only is this church renowned for its religious relic (the legendary chains which bound St. Peter), it is also the place where Pope Julius II is buried. It was Julius who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel and to create the statue of Moses (which now stands at the tomb of this famous Pope).

It is not hard to imagine how the son of a shopkeeper must have been dazzled by his environment.  Rome—home to the Pope, and the center of the Catholic church—was also filled with ancient ruins and beautiful art. 

Da Vinci and Michelangelo—a gifted, tempestuous, generous,  obsessively hardworking (and sometimes arrogantly paranoid) artist who labored long (and diligently) for Pope Julius II (instead of sculpting, drawing and painting what he really wanted to create and produce)—were Renaissance men who'd left their mark on Rome.  Other artists—like Ralphael—had also worked in the "Eternal City," significantly enhancing its cultural standing.

By the nineteenth century, Rome was still a magnet for talent and visitors.  But it was also a place which attracted converts. 

Edgardo Mortara would soon join one of those ranks.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jul 06, 2019

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"POPE PIUS IX GETS INVOLVED" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2001. Jan 29, 2020.
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