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My carriage for the Pope

· Teresa Spaur accompanied Pius IX when he fled by night from to Gaeta ·

In her tale the Countess recalls that the Pope, stripped of his “cassock, his white zucchetto and shoes of red morocco leather with crosses on the uppers”, was dressed as a simple priest “with a pair of spectacles on his nose”

“The death of Countess Teresa Spaur, whose name may perhaps be remembered in connection with that of His Holiness [Pius IX], died in Vienna”, The New York Times of16 June 1873 reported. The hint makes one curious: what was the link between the Italian noblewoman and Bl. Mastai Ferretti that “justified” the necrology in the American daily?

Unknown to the wider public, even in her own Italy, Teresa Spaur (born in Rome in 1799 into a noble family of distant French origin), was the woman who travelled with Pius IX in the carriage that took him incognito from Rome to Gaeta in the night of 24 November 1848. The Countess left a detailed account of the journey (together with her 14-year-old son, the maid and a Jesuit). It is entitled Relazione del viaggio di Pio IX. P.M. a Gaeta, and was published in Florence in 1851 by the publishing house Galileina. The text was destined to suffer a tormented editorial fate: translated into French and German the following year, reprinted in Turin (but provided with an anonymous preface that presented the author as an adventuress), it very soon ended up in oblivion. Impossible to find today even in the larger Italian public libraries, an anastatic copy of the Report has recently been printed. It is edited by Roberto Pancher (Trento, Arti Grafiche Saturnia, 2011).




St. Peter’s Square

Dec. 11, 2019