September 5, 2016
So let’s back up a bit. A conspiracy was formed, we do not know exactly when but probably sometime in either the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, to overthrow the Christian order and to erase the Gospel from the memory of the human race. The spirit of lawlessness, as Saint Paul calls it, has been there since the beginning but something happened in the decades that followed the Thirty Years War that began to focus and organize wickedness in a way unknown to prior ages.
Rather than launching a bold frontal assault on the Church with their seductive but bad ideas as the enemies of old had done they hid in secret places and began to organize themselves. They hated authority and discipline but had learned to discipline their own personal passions for the sake of inflaming the passions of others and to adopt the virtue of patience and of obedience to unknown superiors in order to achieve their malicious ends. They wished only to destroy, but first they had to create institutions of their own which were capable of facing up to and annihilating the institutions which had given life to Catholic civilization; i.e. the Catholic Church. We have chronicled that process on this website.
We have seen these men conspire to seduce the Bourbon kings into forcing the Pope to suppress the Society of Jesus who were the Church’s and the Catholic kings’ best defense against the marauding wave of anarchy that these men intended to unleash on the world.
We have seen their successors seize control of the French state and turn that power towards the ruin of the Catholic Church and of the French monarchy and monarchy in general. And now they turned their greedy eyes to Rome, to the city and its church who had once upon a time given birth to the very kingdoms they were trying to destroy.
When General Berthier’s army marched on Rome Pope Pius VI knew that it would be useless to resist as there was no chance of success. In order to prevent the useless spilling of blood he ordered his soldiers to give way to the army of the French Republic. On February 15, 1798 General Berthier entered Rome without any opposition. He made a show of being ‘invited’ into the city by a deputation of ‘roman citizens’ bearing an olive crown who were nothing but paid French agents. He then went to the Capitol and made this proclamation as translated and reported by the London Evening Mail on March 9, 1798:
The Roman people are restored to their rights of Sovereignty by proclaiming their independence, by assuming the Government of Ancient Rome, and by constituting the Roman Republic. The General in Chief of the French Army in Italy declares, in the name of the French Republic, that he acknowledges the independent Roman Republic, and that it is under the special protection of the French arms. The General in Chief also acknowledges, in the name of the French Republic, the Provisional Government chosen by the Roman People. All temporal authorities proceeding from the Pope are therefore suppressed, and shall exercise no functions whatever. The General in Chief shall make every disposition necessary to secure the independence of the Roman People, and to perfect the organization of their Government, in order that their new laws may be founded on the basis of Liberty and Equality. He will adopt every measure calculate to improve the happiness of the Romans. The French General Cervoni is charged with the direction of the Police, and providing for the security of the City of Rome; and also the installation of the new Government. The Roman Republic acknowledged by the French Republic, comprehends all the territory which remained under the temporal authority of the Pope after the Treaty of Campo Formio.
The first thing I want to note is this: there it is again! liberty and equality but fraternity is absolutely nowhere to be found. This is extremely important and God willing I will show why in a later post.
So the Pope, Pius VI, is stripped of all of his political power, power which he never sought but was entrusted to him as a duty and a duty that weighed him down all the days of his long reign. He had been on the papal throne for exactly twenty three years the day that temporal power was stripped form him. At the time he was the longest serving Pope since Saint Peter. He was old now and his body weak and he had fallen into the hands of his enemies.
But what would they do with him? Would they erect a guillotine in Saint Peter’s Square and be done with him like Louis XVI? Not quite. The Papacy is very old, we forget how old the Papacy is. I wonder how many tourists visiting the ancient and dilapidated ruins of the Colosseum in Rome after seeing the Holy Father give his Angelus address and blessing the crowd on a Sunday or Holy Day realize that there was actually already a Pope in Rome before Vespasian even conceived of the idea to build that same Colosseum with the spoils and slaves he gained in the war that crushed the Jewish revolt in Palestine? That is how old the Papacy is and it has seen a thing or two in its time. Popes had had their heads cut off before and it had done nothing but, after an initial shock, strengthen the Faith. They weren’t interested in making a martyr but in destroying the Papacy itself. So what to do?
First they went to Pius VI and told him that he didn’t rule anything anymore and was to be stripped of his titles and coat of arms. He was told that he was now a citizen of the so called Roman Republic. They offered him the cocarde (a kind of ribbon warn by revolutionaries to signify their devotion to the republican form of government) of the new Roman Republic and told to wear it. Jacques Crétineau-Joly gives us his response (translation mine):
I know no other uniform for myself than that with which the Church has honored me. You have all power over my body, but my soul is beyond your reach. I have no need of a pension. A club instead of a stick and a rough habit suffices for one who is to expire under hatred and over ashes. I worship the hand of the Almighty who strikes the shepherd and the flock. You can destroy the houses of the living and the tombs of the dead, but Religion is eternal. She will exist after you as she existed before you, and her reign will perpetuate until the end of time.
Well said your Holiness, well said. And Pope Pius VI would live these words out. We should all recall this attitude whenever we are confronted with the antichrists who multiply with such fervor during our own time, especially if we happen to be alive when the last one shows up.
But what would the revolution do? They expected this refusal of course. At four o’clock in the morning on February 20, 1798 Pope Pius VI was marched into exile.
Please go to Confession and say three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.