It is the 9th of February 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at I'm Dan van Voorhis.

The year was 1849.

Today on the show, we will answer three questions. Maybe they seem simple, but I assure you they are not. The first question is: what is Italy? The second: what is temporal Papal authority? And third: why does this matter, ever, but especially on this day in history.

Let's go. What is Italy? It's the first European country you could find just by looking at the map. Does it look like a boot? Mussolini? The Renaissance? Canals? The Godfather part 2?

With apologies to the Italian specialists listening, Italy has always been more of an idea than an entity. Prince von Metternich famously said that the only thing "Italy" signifies is a general geographic expression. That is, "Italian" might mean something to us as outsiders. Still, it has generally been best understood as collecting distinct components, from Rome to Venice and Sicily, etc.

Of course, we have the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, but then that all breaks up. The Bishop of Rome's authority would increase, and soon Rome and the Papal States would be an important player on the scene. But the peninsula would be balkanized, partly because of the Pope's insistence that his choice, central position on the peninsula was given to his office by none other than Constantine himself. This document, "The Donation of Constantine," would later be outed as an obvious forgery.

"Italy" as a modern republic only dates to the end of World War 2. And back in 1849, Italy was in between the Napoleonic Republic and the post-1861 Kingdom. This era called the "Risorgimento" consisted of a reordering and consolidation of the Italian lands. The nationalists wanted a singular state, disbanding the Papal States and integrating them into the more extensive republic. The Pope at the time would be an especially consequential one, and if you listened to this show just a few days ago, you might put together that this was the age of Pope Pius IX. He came in as #1 on our list of most historically consequential popes! He's the first modern Pope! The Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility Pope!

1849 was only the third year in Pius' record-breaking 32-year reign. Pius IX wasn't going to abandon the Roman Church's home for the past thousand years plus and soon found himself opposed to any nationalist causes that would envelop Rome and the Vatican. The French and the Austrians didn't want a unified Italy, so they supported the Pope's right to autonomy but were no match for the growing Nationalist crowd.

Pius IX attempted conciliatory reforms but ultimately had to flee Italy with the assistance of French troops. The Pope had been once again removed from the historic seat of Catholicism. But even if he returned, as they always had, an assembly was called to vote on, among other things, the temporal authority of the Pope. Since the union between early Medieval Popes and various rulers, the Pope had established a rule of both spiritual and temporal authority. Church and state, sacred and secular—the Pope could forgive sins and sign bilateral treaties.

On this, the 9th of February in 1849, that vote by the constituency ruled that Pope Pius IX and all subsequent Popes had their temporal authority suspended. It gets complicated because how do you enforce that? And Pius IX did come back to Rome and acted as if he had temporal authority, but the die was cast. By 1870 Rome was occupied for integration into the Italian state. Pope Pius stayed in the Vatican, walled off from hostile Italian leaders. The creation of Vatican City as an independent city-state in 1929 gave the Papacy a sliver of temporal authority. Still, the days of warrior Popes, heavy-handed diplomats, and the Catholic Church as a secular power came to an end on this, the 9th of February in 1849.

The last word for today comes from the "Third inkling" Charles Williams.

"It is easier often to forgive than to be forgiven; yet it is fatal to be willing to be forgiven by God and to be reluctant to be forgiven by men. To forgive and to be forgiven are the two points of holy magnificence and holy modesty."

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 9th of February 2021 brought to you by 1517 at The show is produced by a man who used to play bass in a band called "The Warrior Pope and the Heavy Handed Diplomats," Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day, and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.