|Bl. Pius IX and King Victor Emmanuel II|
The Popes, of course, were standing on principle and protesting against the seizure of the Papal States over which they had long ruled as the local monarchs. However, the Italian occupation of Rome was not as detrimental to the Church as many feared and, indeed, ultimately proved beneficial in some ways. To be sure, the fear of a loss of independence on the part of the Pope was real and well founded. The Pope had to have freedom of action and not be under the control of or subject to any sort of pressure by any foreign power. Yet, in truth, the Papal States had never had that sort of independence which would have required the Pope to have sufficient land and people to match any of the major powers of Europe. Even when the Papal States existed the Popes were constantly shifting in political alliances between (usually) France and Germany/Austria to try to prevent any one power from dominating the Italian peninsula and thus threatening Rome. Pope Leo X, for example, joined in a league with the German Emperor and King of England against France when France and Venice looked to be dominating northern Italy. Later, when the Emperor (also King of Spain) looked to be too powerful, the Pope sided with France and his hesitancy in dealing with the outbreak of the Protestant movement is often attributed to his political fear of the German Emperor.
|King Victor Emmanuel III visits the Vatican|
|Pope Pius XII visits the Quirinale|
|Mussolini at the Vatican|