In the footsteps of Blessed Frances Siedliska in Rome (5)

Sr. M. Beata Rudzińska, CSFN


As we remember (probably less than more) from our history lessons, from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 B.C., there was no unified Italian state on the territory of present-day Italy until the late 19th century. The Italian peninsula, divided into principalities or even independent cities, was a field of battle and influence of Germanic, Arab, Norman, Byzantine tribes, individual Italian magnates and at least a few European powers: Germany, France, Spain, Austria. In addition, in 756, the king of the Franks offered the lands he had conquered to the Pope, creating in this way the Church State, which took over Rome and parts of central Italy for more than 1,100 years. Popes were henceforth not only spiritual leaders of the Church, but also secular monarchs, often dependent on the European powers that guaranteed their security and political standing.

Although the Italian peninsula had been linguistically and culturally cohesive for centuries, it was not until the national and unification movements of the 19th century that the Kingdom of Italy was established in 1861. The process of creating a new Italy was called the Risorgimento – meaning literally: rebirth.

The last act of unification was the capture of the capital of the Church State. In 1870, as a result of the new international situation, the French garrison left Rome, which was henceforth to be defended only by a volunteer infantry unit appointed by Pius IX. The Pope categorically rejected proposals for an amicable solution to the “disputed matter” made by the King of Italy.

On September 19, Italian troops reached Rome and captured it the following day after only three hours of shelling near Porta Pia. The victors entered the city along a road that was later renamed Via XX Settembre – September 20 Street (this may be interesting to those who know Rome a little). Pope Pius IX declared himself “prisoner of the Vatican” . In 1871, the capital of the Kingdom of Italy was moved from Florence to Rome.

Frances Siedliska arrived in the Eternal City just two years after the events that shook the Catholic world.  Rome, after 1114 years, was no longer papal…


Italy before unification – https://www.rp.pl/historia/art8139961-rozbite-wlochy-i-zjednoczona-francja
Carlo Ademollo (1824 – 1911), The breach of Porta Pia – Public Domain