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Reactionary Radicals

A Politically Incorrect Beatification

Few people have been so hated that their enemies have disrupted their funeral processions in an attempt to throw their coffins into a river, but that is precisely what happened to Pope Pius IX on the night of July 12, 1881.

Amid the heated debate surrounding Pio Nono's beatification this past September 3, a few articles mentioned this episode. But with the notable exception of Inside the Vatican (March 2000), no one indicated that this attempt was not an isolated attack during an otherwise peaceful two-hour march from the Vatican, where Pius IX had been temporarily buried after his death, to the Basilica of San Lorenzo Outside the Walls, which the Pope had chosen as his final burial place. Indeed, it was only one of the highlights of an incredibly stormy procession, which turned into a real road to Calvary for the immense crowd of Roman faithful determined to pay a final tribute to their beloved Pope. The funeral cortege had to make its way through horrible blasphemies, insults, curses, obscene songs, stone-throwing, and clubbings. Many mourners were seriously injured.

The attacks were carried out by a few hundred freemasons and liberals with the virtual connivance of the police force, who showed no respect whatsoever for the Catholic faithful and their sentiments. Rome had been "liberated" from the Pope's temporal authority 11 years earlier, and the police were serving a prime minister, Agostino...

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