* Death of
* Gregory XVI
|LIFE OF CARDINAL MEZZOFANTI|
Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1843-1849 > Death of Gregory XVI
The death of Pope Gregory XVI., (June 1st, 1846) which, although in a ripe old age, was at the time entirely unexpected, was a great affliction to Mezzo-fanti, whose affectionate relations with him were maintained to the very last. The Cardinal was, of course, a member of the conclave in which (June 16th) Pius IX. was elected. The speedy and unanimous agreement of the Cardinals in this election—one of the few which seemed to convert the traditional form of " election by inspiration," into a reality—was commemorated impromptu by him in the following graceful epigram :—
During the pontificate of Gregory XVI., Cardinal Mezzofanti never held any office of state ; nor did the change of sovereign make any change in his rank or his occupations. He was, of course, continued by the new government in all his appointments; and the new Pope, Pius IX., regarded him with the same friendship and favour which he had enjoyed at the hands of his predecessor. In the social and political changes which ensued, Mezzofanti, from his non-political character, had no part. No one sympathized more cordially with the beneficent intentions of his Sovereign ; but, completely shut out as he was by his position from political affairs, he pursued his quiet career, with all its wonted regularity, through the very hottest excitement of the eventful years of 1847 and 1848.
Many visitors who conversed with him in these, the last years of his life, have repeated to me the accounts which have already become familiar from the reports of those who knew him in earlier years. The fulfilment of his public duties as Cardinal;—the care of the institutions over which an especial charge had been assigned him ;—the confessional, whenever his services were sought by a foreigner;—above all, his beloved pupils in the Propaganda—these formed for him the business of life.
It would be out of place here to enter into any detail of the startling and violent changes by which these tranquil occupations were rudely interrupted. The Cardinal had watched with deep anxiety the gradually increasing demands with which each successive generous and confiding measure of the administration of Pius IX. had been met; but even his sagacious mind, schooled as it had already been in the vicissitudes of former revolutions, was not prepared for the succession of terrible events which crowded themselves into the last few weeks of the "year of revolution"—the furious demands of the clubs—the expulsion of the Jesuits—the assassination of DeRossi— the obtrusion of a republican ministry—the flight of the Pope—the proclamation of the Republic. Amid all the terrors of the time, he had but one
thought—gratitude for the safety of the Pope. He was urged by his friends to imitate the example of the main body of the Cardinals, and to follow his Sovereign to Gaeta or Naples; but he refused to leave Rome, and continued through all the scenes of violence which followed the
flight of PiusIX., to live, without any attempt at concealment, at his old quarters in the Palazzo Valentiniani.
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