· Biography
     · 1774 to 1798
     · 1798 to 1802
     · 1803 to 1806
     · 1807 to 1814
     · 1814 to 1817
     · 1817 to 1820
     · 1820 to 1823
     · 1823 to 1830
     · 1831
     · 1831 to 1833
     · 1834
     · 1834 to 1836
     · 1836 to 1838
     · 1838 to 1841
     · 1841 to 1843
     · 1843-1849
      · Favorite Nephew
      · Sister
      · Later years
      · English
      · North American
      · Languages
      · Criticism
      · Spanish
      · Other languages
      · Russian
      · Polish
      · House of
      · Catechumen
      * Death of
      * Gregory XVI
      · Death
      · Sickness
     · Recapitulation
     · About the book
   · FAQ
   · Characters
   · Places
   · Highlights
   · Language table

Learn That Language Now -- Learn a New Language 3 Times Faster
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 :—

Gregorius coelo invectus sic protinus orat: " Heu cito Pastorem da, bone Christe, gregi! " Audit; et immissus pervadit pectora Patruin, Spiritus : et Norms prodit ecce Pius !

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.

Almost every evening, when I was in the College of the Propaganda saysF.Bresciani, "he would come to exercise himself with these dear pupils, who are collected there from all nations of the world,, to be educated in sacred and profane literature and in the apostolic spirit. Then, as he conversed with me in the halls of the Propaganda when the pupils were returning from theirevening walks, he would go to meet them as he saw them coming up the steps, and, as they passed him, would say something to them in their own languages; speaking to one, Chinese; to another, Armenian ; to a third, Greek; to a fourth, Bulgarian. This one he would accost in Arabic, that, in Ethiopic, Geez, or Abyssinian; now he would speak in Russian, then in Albanian, in Persian, in Peguan, in Coptic, in English, in Lithuanian, in German, in Danish, in Georgian, in Kurdish, in Norwegian, in Swedish. Nor was there ever any risk that he should get entangled, or that a word of
another language or a wrong pronunciation should escape him.

Every year, from the time of his coming to Rome, even after he had been made Cardinal, he used to assist the students in composing their several national odes for the Polyglot Academy of the Propaganda, which is held during the octave of the Epiphany, and in which the astonished foreigners who witness it behold a living emblem of the unity of the Catholic Church, which alone is able, through the Holy Spirit that vivifieth her, to show forth in one fraternity the union of all tongues, in praising and blessing the Lord who created us and redeemed us by the blood of Jesus Christ. Now the Cardinal, in these fifty tongues and upwards, in which the pupils composed, would make all the necessary corrections whether of thought, metre, or phrase, with all, and perhaps more than all, ihe facility and exactness of others in writing poetry in their native tongue. After he had corrected the compositions, he would take his beloved pupils, one by one, and instruct them in the proper mode of reciting and pronouncing each, And, as some of them occasionally had entered college when very little boys, and had forgotten some of the tones or cadence of their native languages, he would come to their aid by suggesting these, testing and correcting them with the utmost gentleness and patience.

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.

Copyright 2009 - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.
Printed from