The Farewell of Pope Pius IX to Ferdinand II after the Neapolitan Exile

On 24 November 1848, following the riots during the Roman Republic that resulted in the killing of the Prime Minister of the Papal States, Pope Pius IX was forced to flee clandestinely from Rome, taking refuge in Gaeta. That very night, disguised as a simple priest, the Pope succeeded in escaping from the Quirinale. In an enclosed carriage along with his secret assistant, he escaped capture and travelled to the countryside, despite all obstacles including a cannon ready to fire at the main gate of the Papal Palace. Finally, he arrived at the church of Saints Peter and Marcellinus in Via Labicana. Here the Holy Pontiff found the Bavarian Ambassador Count Karl von Spaur waiting with his wife and son, who together feigned going on a sightseeing tour in the Kingdom of Naples accompanied by their new “docent.” The Pope hopped into the Ambassador’s carriage on the evening of 25 November and arrived undisturbed in Gaeta where he wrote these words to Ferdinand II: “The Supreme Roman Pontiff has found himself in a position where he must abandon the capital of his domain in order to not compromise his own dignity. He is now in Gaeta, yet only for a brief time, wherein it is by no means intended to compromise in any way your Majesty nor the tranquillity of your people.” Moved by these words, Ferdinand II left Naples with his family and headed to Gaeta, and invited the Pope to move into his Villa in Portici, where Pope Pius IX remained until 4 April 1850. After the capitulation of the Roman Republic, the Sovereign Pontiff was able once again to return to Rome. King Ferdinand II actually accompanied the Pope personally out of the confines of the state border, where his Majesty had prepared the Carrozza da Viaggio to transport him on his journey.

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