Category Archives: Italian History

#284 – Lorenzo Valla and the Donation of Constantine

The Donation of Constantine served to justify Papal temporal authority over Western Europe for centuries, until Lorenzo Valla proved that it was a fraud. No one likes a revisionist historian. Links: Tomb of Lorenzo Valla Valla’s refutation of the Donation of Constantine Sources: Blum, Paul Richard. Philosophers of the Renaissance Blum, Paul Richard. Philosophy of […]

#275 – The Papal Peace Note

Pope Benedict XV repeatedly called for an end to the violence of the First World War, but his cries just as repeatedly were rejected by the governments of belligerent countries that would be satisfied with nothing less than total victory. Yet, it was not only the governments of belligerent countries that thwarted Benedict’s mission – […]

#256 – The Wild West in the Vatican

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was popular throughout the United States and even Europe. Yet, while many amazing displays could be found at Buffalo Bill Cody’s shows, perhaps the most amazing display took place when he visited Pope Leo XIII. Links: Buffalo Bill in Rome Medal Buffalo Bill received from Pope Leo XIII Sources: Delaney, Michelle […]

#250 – Papal Zouaves, Part II

The increasing threat to the Papal States by the Kingdom of Italy will lead to new calls for Catholics to come to the aid of Pius IX. Catholic in Canada respond eagerly. Catholics in the United States are much more hesitant. Links: Canadian and American Zouaves in the Papal Army, 1868-1870 by Howard R. Marraro, […]

#249 – Papal Zouaves, Part I

In 1860, faced with threats of Italian nationalism, the Pope appealed for help. Thousands of Catholics traveled to Rome to protect Pius IX and to give their lives for their faith. Links: The Vatican Rifles The Pope’s Legion: The Multinational Fighting Force that Defended the Vatican by Charles A. Coulombe Check out the other great […]

Today in Catholic History – Edward Gibbon and the Franciscans

On 15 October 1764, Edward Gibbon received his inspiration to write his famous The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which is seen as the beginning of modern historical writing on the Roman Empire and a tremendous influence on later historical writing. Gibbon wrote in his Autobiography that it was as […]

Today in Catholic History – The Obelisk before St. Peter’s is blessed

On 28 September 1586, the obelisk known as “The Witness” was blessed in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The obelisk, originally taken from Rome and erected at the Circus of Nero in 37 AD, was the second largest standing obelisk at 130 ft including the base and the cross and weighing 330 tons. […]

Today in Catholic History – The Siege of Rome

On 19 September 1870, the armies of the Kingdom of Italy laid siege to Rome in their desire to incorporate the city into a unified Italian state. On the 20th of September, the Italian armies will capture the city ending more than one thousand years of temporal rule by the papacy. Popes Pius IX through […]

Today in Catholic History – The Founding of San Marino

On 3 September 301, Saint Marinus established the country of San Marino – the fifth smallest state in the world. Saint Marinus, at this time known as Marinus the Dalmatian, had fled to Mount Titano to escape the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian. Mount Titano is the highest mountain in San Marino and there, on […]

Today in Catholic History – Cesare Borgia resigns from the cardinalate

On 17 August 1498, Cesare Borgia became the first man to ever resign from the cardinalate. Cesare’s father, Pope Alexander VI, had placed many of his children into church offices. Cesare was made bishop of Pamplona when he was 15 and raised to the cardinalate at 18. However, Cesare himself did not desire a church […]


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