Pope Pius VII, 1800-1823: His Life, Times, and Struggle with Napoleon in the Aftermath of the French Revolution by Robin Anderson
Paperback - 226 pages by Robin Anderson
The French Revolution had wrought religious and civil havoc in France and the Italian states. Thousands of French priests had been killed or deported; other priests and bishops were forming a schismatic national Church; the previous Pope had been kidnapped and had died in exile. Catholics were losing the Faith and adopting an attitude of resistance to all authority. The forces of Revolution thoughts this was the end of the Papacy, but 34 of the 36 Cardinals were able to enter conclave at Venice on December 1, 1799, and more than two months later, after a deadlocked vote, Cardinal Chiaramonti was elected as a compromise candidate on March 2, 1800, the Feast of St. Gregory the Great. This was the beginning of the reign of Pope Pius VII (1800-1823)—one of the most difficult and confusing moments in Catholic history. At this time the military genius Napoleon Bonaparte was rising to power—a man of almost unbound ambition. It was Pius VII’s task to deal with this man, grateful for the strength he provided in a disintegrating world, yet careful to avoid getting swallowed up by his demands. In addition to examining the drama between Pope and Emperor, Professor Anderson also goes into many other high points of that eventful period; the restoration of the Jesuits, the Catholic Emancipation in England and Ireland, St. Gaspar del Bufalo’s conversion of the bandits infesting the hills of Rome, and much more; plus, on the negative side, the workings of Jansenism, Gallicanism, Josephism, and Regalism—all of which are various forms of Liberalism. This absorbing history will fascinate and inform anyone who wants to witness the Church’s response to French Revolutionary forces and to understand Liberalism at work in its early days. Moreover, it gives an appreciation for Christ’s protection of His Church through some of the most difficult times she has ever faced. For Pius VII outlived Napoleon and most of the Church’s enemies—though unfortunately not Liberalism, which has perdured into our own time as a malignant growth in the bosom of society.