Sept. 20, 1870: Rome Liberated, Papal States Defeated – Garibaldi & Gavazzi: Heroes of Unified Italy – ‘Infallible’ Pope Pius IX Fails – Retire the Papacy

Source: Reformation Online

September 20th is Rome Liberation Day!!

The entire city of Rome was occupied by the Papal Pontiffs from the Pontificate of Damasus I (366-384) to September 20, 1870. This 1504 year usurpation was the longest in the entire history of the world!!

The Papal States were occupied by the Papal Pontiffs from 755 to September 20, 1870.

The Papal States were originally ruled from Constantinople by the viceroy of the Byzantine Emperor, called the exarch of Ravenna. The territories were conquered by the Lombards, and Pope Stephen II (Pope from 752-757) sought the help of King Pepin of the Franks to expel them.

Pope Stephen II convinced the illiterate and credulous King Pepin that “St. Peter” had sent him an airmail letter from heaven calling on him to defend Rome and expel the Lombards.

Benedictine monks forging the missive from “St. Peter” up in heaven

The temporal power of the Papal Pontiffs began in 755 with the famous airmail letter from “St. Peter” to King Pepin of the Franks, commanding him to save Rome from the Lombards!!

King Pepin was astonished that “St. Peter” even knew about him!!

If we add 1260 to 755, it brings us to the fateful year of 2015.

The most infamous pious fraud in history was the airmail letter from “St. Peter” delivered to King Pepin, commanding him to save Rome from the Lombards.

The temporal power of the Papal Pontiffs began in the year 755 when the Papal States were conceived in forgery and born in bloodshed and war.

There were 3 main reasons for their existence:

The Pontiffs did not have to answer to the civil power or any non-clerical government.

Gold and silver (real money) could be shipped to the Vatican without the permission of the civil power.

Secure communications: Information obtained through the confessionals could reach Rome securely.

Here is a quote from the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX – the last king of the Papal States:

20. The ecclesiastical power ought not to exercise its authority without the permission and assent of the civil government. –Allocution “Meminit unusquisque”, Sept. 30, 1861. (Condemned as error.)

September 20th is the 142nd anniversary (1870-2012) of the liberation of Rome from the Papal tyranny. A year later, on July 1, 1871, the Italian government moved from Florence to Rome, and the following day King Victor Emmanuel II entered the city.

Both of those days should be much observed unto JEHOVAH as a great fulfillment of Bible prophecy:

But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. (Daniel 7:26)

And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Daniel 11:45)

It was “LIGHTS OUT” time for the Latin kingdom on Sept. 20, 1870:

And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. (Rev. 16:10-11)

ALL Triune Christians should rejoice greatly and celebrate the day with parades and pageants, Scripture readings, patriotic speeches, and organized firing of guns and cannons and displays of fireworks!!

General Raffaele Cadorna (1815-1897) 

On September 20, 1870, Italian general Raffaele Cadorna led the liberating army into the city.

The French army had withdrawn to fight the Prussians, and the only opposition was the Papal Army and the Swiss Guard.

Porta Pia, showing the holes made by Italian artillery in the liberation of Rome 

Immediately afterward, a PLEBISCITE or VOTE was held to give the Romans a choice between the Papal or Italian governments.

At the time of the liberation, Rome had a population of about 240,000. Immediately afterward, the Italian government organized a popular PLEBISCITE so that the Romans could choose between the Papal or Italian government.

Italian prime minister Giovanni Lanza ordered General Cadorna to halt at the Leonine Wall surrounding the Vatican. The 1,500 inhabitants of the Leonine City were not to be included in the plebiscite. Of course, they were furious that they were not allowed to vote.

The Leonine Wall surrounding the Vatican

The liberating army was told to halt at the Leonine Wall.

The inhabitants of the Leonine City were furious when they were told that they would not be part of liberated Rome.

They insisted on being part of the plebiscite and voted overwhelmingly to be part of Italy.

Map of the Leonine Wall

135,000 votes were cast in the Roman plebiscite, and the overwhelming majority voted to be part of the kingdom of Italy:

It was in this somewhat troubled atmosphere that the plebiscite duly took place on October 2. The most perfect order was maintained despite the prevailing excitement. Some fifteen hundred inhabitants of the Leonine City crossed the bridge of S. Angelo, set up their own polling-place, and cast a unanimous vote in favor of annexation to Italy. They then apprised the authorities of the result. On the evening of the third, all the ballot boxes were brought to the Campidoglio. Some embarrassment ensued when an old resident of the Leonine City, accompanied by a large number of fellow Trasteverians, presented the votes of his district. The Giunta appealed to Baron Blanc, who represented the government at these rites, and someone expressed the opinion that, for diplomatic reasons, it might be advisable to follow a special procedure in this instance. But the baron unhesitatingly replied: “Forward, Romans of the Trastevere,” and their votes were registered with all the others. The tabulation of the results showed an overwhelming triumph for the national cause. Of the 135,291 votes cast, 133,681 were in favor of union, 1507 were against, and 103 were classified as invalid. (Halperin, Italy and the Vatican at War, pp. 108-109)

The 1,500 Leonine City inhabitants lived closest to the Papal government; they had an opportunity to view it up close and personal . . . and they rejected it overwhelmingly!!

Pope Pius IX was declared infallible at the First Vatican Council 

In July 1870, at the First Vatican Council, Pope Pius IX was declared infallible. In August 1870, Napoleon III declared war on Prussia. In September 1870, Rome was liberated by Italian troops.

Pope Pius IX (1792-1878), Pontiff from 1846 to 1878 

Vatican Council I was presided over by Pope Pius IX

Events moved very swiftly after the blasphemy of a mere man declaring himself infallible. In August, Napoleon III declared war on Prussia, and in September, Italian troops liberated Rome and the Papal States.

The United STATES flag was BANNED from the city of Rome and the Papal States!! 

Believe it or not, the United STATES flag was BANNED from the city of Rome and the Papal States. The States were run by PRIESTS and POLICE, and flying the United States flag could get you a long prison sentence.

Having a copy of the United States Constitution in your possession meant a trip to the dungeons of the Inquisition or maybe a trip to the guillotine. Here is part of a diplomatic post, dated Sept. 23, 1870, from D. Maitland Armstrong, U.S. Consul to Rome:

The general feeling now appears to be, even among the Pope’s friends, that he made one of the grandest mistakes that man ever made, in not submitting to the inevitable, and listening to the offers of the King of Italy. It would seem to have been a sufficient protest against violence, if he had simply closed the gates, and not allowed blood to be shed in vain. By resisting, as he did, he lost all; his prestige, for the present, is entirely gone. He is now little more than any bishop, in his diocese; in fact he is less, for now he could hardly go through the streets without insult, perhaps not without personal danger. No one could imagine a greater fall than his, no greater contrast between the arrogant, infallible Pope of yesterday, and the weak, deserted old man of today. He is still at the Vatican, and there is every prospect, I hear, of his remaining there. In all cases I have allowed American citizens to put up the American flag, which hitherto has not been allowed in Rome, even at the consulate. I am happy to say that it has been of great service, and has been universally respected. (Stock, Consular Relations Between the United States and the Papal States, vol. II, pp. 354-355)

John Surratt, the main conspirator behind the assassination of President Lincoln, was actually a soldier in the Papal Army. He was captured and brought back to the U.S. before he had a chance to fight against the Italian liberating army.

Pope Pius IX sought asylum in ENGLAND!! 

In 1860, things looked very bleak for the Pope and the Papal States. At that time, Cardinal Antonelli, on behalf of Pope Pius IX, sought asylum in ENGLAND for the Pope should he be forced to evacuate Rome.

Pope Pius IX wanted to return home . . . to the land of the founder of the Papacy – Emperor Constantine!

Here is a top secret dispatch from the unofficial British representative to the Papal States, Lord Odo Russell, to the British foreign secretary, Lord John Russell:

Cardinal Antonelli, who is always very civil and kind to me, lately asked me after demonstrations of increasing cordiality what I thought of the Emperor’s offer to guarantee the integrity of the remaining possessions of the Holy See as expressed in his letter to the Pope, published in the Moniteur. I replied that I did not doubt His Majesty’s good faith, but that I had no knowledge of the intentions of Her Majesty’s Government on the subject. My own private conviction, however, was that England would not be a party to any new treaty engagements to guarantee the possessions of any foreign Sovereign. We thought the governed were the best judges of the form of government which suited them and that it was the duty of all Governments to establish relations of mutual confidence with their subjects. His Eminence observed that this was ‘une politique peu généreuse’ and next enquired what we thought of the right of asylum, and after beating about the bush for some time, he asked whether we had any ships of our navy near Civita Vecchia. I pretended not to understand until he became more explicit and asked me whether I thought Her Majesty’s Government would afford the Pope personal protection should he require it. I replied that we granted asylum to everyone who sought it in England and that if a foreign sovereign applied to us for personal protection on board one of our ships, we would undoubtedly grant it. His Eminence thanked me and a few days later he took me aside and told me in a low whisper that he had communicated our conversation to the Pope, who desired him to thank me for the ‘bonnes dispositions’ I attributed to my Government; that His Holiness was at present well protected by the French and firmly determined not to quit Rome, but in these critical times it was difficult to foresee how far the Emperor might go, and it was therefore a comfort to the Holy Father to think that the strong arm of England would afford him personal protection if things came to the worst. I said that I would communicate the Pope’s message to you, as I had previously only spoken as a private individual and on my own responsibility. He again thanked me and begged that what had passed might remain between us. (The Roman Question, p. 81) 

From 1860 to 1870, the Papal forces managed to keep General Garibaldi from entering Rome.

In July of 1870, Pope Pius IX declared himself infallible; in August of 1870, Napoleon III declared war on Prussia. The French troops of Napoleon III, who were garrisoning the city of Rome, had to be withdrawn, and the Italian patriots rushed in and declared Rome the capital of a united Italy. Italy was united again as one country for the first time in over 1000 years.

The French army was greatly weakened by Napoleon’s disastrous intervention in Mexico. In 1866, French ally Austria was swiftly defeated by Prussia in the 7 Weeks’ War. When France declared war on Prussia in 1870, the Prussians used new tactics learned during the U.S. Civil War, such as rapid railroad transportation of troops to the front and the newly invented telegraph.

In August 1870, Emperor Napoleon III of France declared war on Prussia 

The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War (July 19, 1870 – May 10, 1871), was a conflict between France and Prussia, which was backed by the North German Confederation and the south German states of Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria.

Napoleon III (reigned 1852-1870)

The soldiers of Emperor Napoleon III were garrisoning Rome and had to be withdrawn following the defeat of France in the war.

Prussia won an astonishing victory in the war, and soon the Prussian army was outside the gates of Paris.

Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) 

France was confident that its ally Austria-Hungary would join the war, and Austria was also thirsting for revenge because of its defeat by Prussia in 1866:

Unofficial conversations between French staff officers and Austrian representatives were held from time to time during the closing months of 1869, and in February 1870 Baron Franz Kuhn, the first Austro-Hungarian war minister, informed the French military attaché in Vienna that, should France and the Monarchy find themselves at war with Prussia, he could guarantee an army of 600,000 men would be fully mobilized within six weeks. A month later Archduke Albrecht, as titular Inspector-General of the Imperial and Royal army, paid a much publicized visit to Paris, where he unfolded a grand strategic plan to the French minister of war. Provided France kept the Prussians engaged for six weeks and mounted an offensive in the general direction of Nuremberg, the Austrians (and he hoped an Italian expeditionary force) would cross into Saxony, raise the south German states and join the French in a march on Berlin which would destroy Bismarck’s Prussia. (Palmer, Twilight of the Habsburgs, p. 173) 

The great Russian Czar Alexander II forestalled any military intervention by Austria on behalf of Napoleon III.

Czar Alexander II (1818-1881), Czar from 1855 to 1881

Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph promised France at least 600,000 soldiers for the war against Prussia.

Czar Alexander II, who had just saved the United States from an invasion by Great Britain during the Civil War, threatened to mobilize the Russian army; and as a result, Franz Joseph backed down.

Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916), Emperor from 1848 to 1916 

Emperor Franz Joseph’s brother, Maximilian, was in Mexico during the U.S. Civil War.

Since their defeat by the Prussians in 1866, Austria was allied to Hungary, creating a powerful confederation called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Czar Alexander II prevented a military alliance with France by threatening to mobilize the Russian army:

Even before the French defeats, the Czar’s declared intention of matching any Austrian declaration of war with one of his own had enabled Moltke to summon the three army corps standing along the Austrian frontier to join the armies in the Palatinate. The news of Wissembourg created in Vienna an uneasiness which only victory could have dispelled; and by 10th August the Austrian army had abandoned all the military preparations which it had half-heartedly begun. (Howard, The Franco-Prussian War, p. 120) 

As a result of the French defeat, Czar Alexander abrogated the Treaty of Paris which blocked Russian access to the Black Sea.

In order to defend Paris, the French soldiers had to be withdrawn from Rome: the Italian patriots rushed in, and declared the city their capital after a long wait of over 1000 years.

Duke Albrecht or Albert of Prussia (1490-1568) 

The kingdom of Prussia, which won such an astonishing victory over the French armies, was founded by Albrecht von Hohenzollern, Grand Master of the Teutonic Order.

Duke Albert was won to the true Faith by Saint Martin Luther in 1525.

Kingdom of Prussia circa 1870 

During the next 3 centuries, Protestant Prussia became one of the foremost military powers of Europe.

In 1866, Protestant Prussia defeated Roman Catholic Austria at the battle of Koeniggratz, which led the way to the unification of Italy in 1870.

The Jesuits greatly admired the military prowess of Prussia and used that state to unify Germany. World War I and II was REVENGE for the loss of the Papal States or the Little Horn.

This Prussian victory brought about the final unification of the German Empire under King William I of Prussia. It also marked the downfall of Napoleon III and the end of the Second Empire, which was replaced by the Third Republic. As part of the settlement, the territory of Alsace-Lorraine was taken by Germany, which would retain it until World War I.

The city of Rome fell in ONE DAY!! 

The city of Rome fell to the Italian patriots in ONE DAY. At 5:00 A.M. the patriots began bombarding the walls of the city. A breach was made soon thereafter, and the patriots began pouring in through the gap. Resistance was hopeless, so about noontime, the white flag of surrender was hoisted from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica.

General Raffaele Cadorna led about 60,000 Italian troops into the city. General Hermann Kanzler commanded the Papal Army and Swiss Guards.

Italian troops entering Rome at Porta Pia 

Italian troops entered Rome on September 20, 1870.

Papal ambassadors consoled Pope Pius IX on the morning of the liberation and assured him that the Italian occupation was temporary.

Papal ambassadors consoling Pope Pius IX

After the defeat of France, the French soldiers garrisoning the Papal States had to be withdrawn, and the Italian patriots rushed in and proclaimed Rome their capital.

Liberating General Raffaele Cadorna 

Italian general Raffaele Cadorna commanded the 60,000 strong Italian liberating army.

He was opposed by general Hermann Kanzler who commanded the Papal Army and the Swiss Guards.

General Hermann Kanzler (1822-1888)

At that time, the YEAR OF JUBILEE should have come for the entire world, but the Papacy had one last card to play and that was the United States.

President Lincoln had just saved the Union, so the United States was now a vast empire from sea to shining sea with limitless natural resources and vast economic and military potential.

Garibaldi and Gavazzi were the heroes of the unification of Italy 

Giuseppe Garibaldi (the lion of Caprera) and Alessandro (the Great) Gavazzi were the heroes of the Risorgimento or reunification of Italy. Garibaldi could not lead the conquering hosts into the city because he was a prisoner on the island of Caprera.

These 2 men were the driving force behind the liberation of Italy from the Papal tyranny.

Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) 

Garibaldi (the lion of Caprera) wielded the physical sword against the enemies of Italian unification, while Gavazzi wielded the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

Both recommended permanent retirement for the Papacy and turning the Vatican into a museum!!

Alessandro (the Great) Gavazzi (1809-1889) 

Garibaldi and Gavazzi were crowned with success beyond their wildest dreams. Both continually warned their countrymen that if they allowed the Pope to stay, he would try to get back the temporal power…. How prophetic and right they were!!

The Italian government moved from Florence to Rome on July 1, 1871 

Despite all the threats of Pope Pius IX, the Italian government moved its headquarters from Florence to Rome on July 1, 1871. King Victor Emmanuel was very superstitious and dreaded the Pope’s excommunication, but he overcame his fears and entered Rome on July 2, 1871.

King Victor Emmanuel entered Rome on July 2, 1871 

The Quirinal Palace was the summer residence of the Popes before it became the home of the kings – and later the presidents – of united Italy.

The Quirinal Palace became the home of the kings of the Kingdom of Italy – and later the presidents of the Italian Republic 

The new king of united Italy did not survive very long after he defied the Pontiff and moved the Italian government to Rome.

The first king of united Italy was poisoned by the Jesuits!! 

On July 1, 1871, King Victor Emmanuel II and the Italian parliament moved the capital from Florence to Rome. The Pope was FURIOUS and threatened the new government with eternal damnation in hell. He proclaimed a crusade against Italy, and Latin Church members from all over Europe were mobilized to march on Rome and restore the temporal power.

In 1873, the Italian parliament passed a law declaring religious orders non-existent in Italy, and ownership of their properties passed to the state. In Rome, Victor Emmanuel and his parliament explicitly excluded the Superior General of the Jesuit Order from any pension; all of the Society’s houses, including the Gesù and the Curia, were appropriated by the government. The Jesuits were expelled from Rome, so Peter Beckx shifted the Society’s headquarters (Curia Generalizia) to Fiesole, near Florence, where it remained until 1895.

Jesuit Superior General Peter Beckx – the éminence grise behind Pope Pius IX – ordered the assassination of King Victor Emmanuel II.

King Victor Emmanuel II (1820-1878) 

King Victor Emmanuel II was the first king of the new united Italy.

In 1871, he defied the Pope and moved the capital from Florence to Rome.

As revenge, Jesuit Superior General Peter Beckx gave him the cup of Borgia.

Jesuit Superior General Peter Beckx (1795-1887)

The king was a military man and preferred spending most of his time OUTDOORS. All his life he never suffered from ill health.

On January 5, 1878, the king became suddenly ill while visiting Rome for the New Year celebrations, and within 2 days he was dead at the young age of 58.

World War I was an attempt to restore the lost Papal States!! 

The lightning victory of Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War astonished the world. Many refused to see in it the hand of divine providence, and many Germans were convinced of their military superiority over any enemy.

The war also led to the unification of Germany, and the creation of the Second Reich under Kaiser William II.

Kaiser William II (1859-1941), reigned from 1888 to 1918 

In 1914, the militant Kaiser sought to replay the astonishing victory of the Franco-Prussian War.

Much to his surprise, his army became bogged down in trench warfare with the loss of millions of lives on both sides.

Massive German casualties at the battle of Verdun: Europe had not seen such a bloody conflict since the 30 Years’ War

The final result of World War I for Germany was nothing like the Franco-Prussian War. They were forced to give up all their overseas colonies and hand back Alsace-Lorraine to the French.

World War II was an attempt to restore the lost Papal States!! 

Believe it or not, the Pentagon actually invaded Italy in 1943…. This was during World War II, and landings were made at Anzio and Salerno, with Rome finally occupied on June 4, 1944.

BERLIN was supposed to be their final target, but their map readers were a little confused, because Rome is about 700 miles (1180 kilometers) from Berlin over very mountainous terrain.

Soldiers of General Mark Clark occupy Rome in 1944 

The Allies occupied Rome in 1944.

Had Russia lost to Nazi Germany, this would be a perfect opportunity to divide up Italy once again and restore the lost States!!

Allied soldiers marching in Rome during the occupation 

Had Russia lost to Nazi Germany, this was a perfect opportunity to rearrange the map of Italy and restore the Pope to his former glory.

The Janiculum Hill has the best view of Rome!! 

Millions of tourists visited Rome in 2010 in order to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the birth of modern Italy.

The monument to Italian unity is located at King Victor Emmanuel II Plaza. Many tour operators from the U.S. avoid showing the monument, even though the Janiculum Hill is the highest point in Rome and has the most panoramic view of the city.

King Victor Emmanuel II monument in Rome 

The Janiculum Hill is the highest point in Rome and has the most panoramic view of the city.

Many tour operators from the U.S. try to avoid showing it to tourists.

That is like visiting New York City and not seeing the Empire State Building!!

Garibaldi monument on the Janiculum Hill 

Make the Janiculum Hill destination #1 when you visit Rome for the anniversary of its liberation!! 

Vital Links

Diabolical plot to divide up Italy and restore the Papal States exposed!!

Life and Times of Giuseppe Garibaldi


Blakiston, Noel. The Roman Question: Extracts from the Dispatches of Odo Russell from Rome 1858-1870. Chapman & Hall, London, 1962.

Cadorna, Luigi. Il generale Raffaele Cadorna nel Resorgimento italiano. Fratelli Treves, Milano, 1922.

Dicey, Edward. Victor Emmanuel II. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1882.

Forester, B.C. Victor Emmanuel II and the Union of Italy. Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1927. 

Howard, Michael. The Franco-Prussian War. The Macmillan Company, New York, 1962.

Halperin, William S. Italy and the Vatican at War. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1939.

Hinkley, Edyth. Mazzini: The Story of a Great Italian. Kennikat Press, Port Washington, New York, 1924.

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Palmer, Alan. Twilight of the Habsburgs: The Life and Times of Emperor Francis Joseph. Grove Press, New York, 1994.

Smith, Denis Mack. Victor Emmanuel, Cavour, and the Risorgimento. Oxford University Press, New York, 1971.

Smith, Denis Mack. Giuseppe Mazzini. Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1994. 

Smith, Denis Mack. Count Camille de Cavour. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1985.

Stock, Leo Francis. Consular Relations Between the United States and the Papal States. (in 2 Volumes), American Catholic Historical Assoc., Washington City, 1945.

Wylie, Rev. J. A. The Awakening of Italy and the Crisis of Rome. U.S. Tract Society, New York, 1866.

Copyright © 2010 by Niall Kilkenny

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