God bless Italy

Christopher Clark

  • The Pope Who Would Be King: The Exile of Pius IX and the Emergence of Modern Europe by David I. Kertzer
    Oxford, 474 pp, £25.00, May, ISBN 978 0 19 882749 8

On the evening of 24 November 1848, Pope Pius IX fled from the city of Rome. At 5 p.m., he took off his Moroccan silk slippers with crosses embroidered on their uppers, put aside the red velvet papal cap and dressed himself in the black cassock and broad-brimmed hat of a country priest. Half an hour later, in a state of great agitation, he left the papal audience chamber in the Quirinale Palace by an internal stairway and tiptoed down to the courtyard, where a carriage was waiting for him. The French ambassador to the Holy See, the duc d’Harcourt, remained alone in the chamber for 45 minutes, speaking in a loud voice so that no one would suspect that the pope had left the building.

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