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There is a curious resemblance between the destiny of Pope Pius VII, persecuted by Napoleon I and his adversary. Here are the main features as they are traced by history: 1° Napoleon held Pope Pius VII prisoner for five years (1809-1814) and in two different places, in Savona and in Fontainebleau; later he was himself prisoner for seven years in Elba and in Saint Helena. 2° On May 17, 1809, Napoleon issued from Vienna the decree which took away the Pope’s States. This decree was the beginning of the end of Napoleon. He suffered his first setbacks at Aspern and Esslingen, where he could not force the positions of the Archduke Charles. Napoleon was no longer invincible. 3° The pope answered the decree of Vienna by the excommunication (June 11, 1809). On hearing this, the emperor laughed and added: “Does the pope believe that the weapons will fall from the hands of my soldiers?” They fell sooner than he thought. In the Russian campaign (1812) the great army was destroyed not by the Russians, but by the cold which made “the weapons fall from the hands of the soldiers.” 4° In the same castle of Fontainebleau where Napoleon had held the Holy Father prisoner and forced him to give up the Papal States for an annual pension, the Emperor had to sign the act of abdication and was relegated to the island of Elba with an annual income of 2 million. 5° In 1821 the emperor died on the island of Saint Helena during a terrible storm, on May 5: singular coincidence, the day of the feast of Saint Pius V (May 5), for a long time the Holy Father had returned to Rome, where he had been able to return in 1814. In 1815 the Papal States were restored to the Pope. 6° It was at Schönbrunn Castle (Vienna) that Napoleon issued the decree that deprived the Pope of his States; it was also there that the son of the Emperor, the “King of Rome”, died in the prime of life, in the very room where Napoleon had signed the deportation decree.
A Catholic who observes these marvelous events will be led to serious thoughts about the action of divine Providence for the protection of the Church, while an enemy of Catholicism will refuse to see in them anything but chance.
Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and of the Mother of God. Amen.
O Jesus! We are going to walk with You on the road to Calvary which was so painful for You. Make us understand the greatness of Your sufferings, touch our hearts with tender compassion at the sight of Your torments, in order to increase in us the regret of our faults and the love we wish to have for You.
Deign to apply to all of us the infinite merits of Your Passion, and in memory of Your sorrows, show mercy to the souls in Purgatory, especially to those who are most abandoned.
O Divine Mary, who first taught us to make the Way of the Cross, obtain for us the grace to follow Jesus with the sentiments Your Heart was filled with as You accompanied Him on the road to Calvary. Grant that we may weep with You, and that we may love Your divine Son as You do. We ask this in the name of His adorable Heart. Amen.