Pope Gregory XVI dies
The embarrassed financial condition in which Gregory left the Papal States makes it doubtful how far his lavish expenditure in architectural and engineering works, and his magnificent patronage of learning in the hands of Mai, Mezzofanti, Gateano, Moroni, and others, were for the real benefit of his subjects. The years of his pontificate were marked by the steady development and diffusion of those Ultramontane ideas which were ultimately formulated, under the presidency of his successor Pope Pius IX, by the Council of the Vatican. He died on the 1st of June 1846.
The Revolution of 1830 which overthrew the House of Bourbon had just inflicted a severe blow on the Catholic royalist party in France, and almost the first act of the new government there was to seize Ancona, thus throwing Italy, and particularly the Papal States, into an excited condition which seemed to demand strongly defensive measures. In the course of the struggle which ensued, it was more than once necessary to call in Austrian defenders against red-shirted republicans engaged in a terrorist campaign. The conservatives postponed their promised reforms after bombings and assassination attempts. Nor did the replacement of Tommaso Bernetti by Luigi Lambruschini in 1836 mend matters.
Pope Gregory and Cardinal Lambruschini opposed basic technological innovations such as gas lighting and railways, believing that they would promote commerce and increase the power of the bourgeoisie, leading to demands for liberal reforms which would undermine the monarchical power of the Pope over central Italy. Gregory in fact banned railways in the Papal States, calling them chemins d'enfer (literally "ways of hell," a play on the French for railroad, chemin de fer, literally "iron road"). However, under pressure from the French, Gregory was liberal in forgiving imprisoned revolutionaries, a policy which might have aided the final overthrow of Gregory's successor, Pope Pius IX, as temporal ruler in 1870.
The financial condition in which Gregory XVI left the States of the Church makes it questionable how far his expenditures for defensive, architectural and engineering works, and his magnificent patronage of learning in the hands of Angelo Mai, Giuseppe Mezzofanti, Gaetano Moroni and others, were for the real benefit of his subjects.
The insurrections at Viterbo in 1836, in various parts of the Legations in 1840, at Ravenna in 1843 and Rimini in 1845, were followed by wholesale executions and severe sentences, hard labour or exile; still the Papal States seethed with unrest.
However, on 3 December 1839 Gregory also issued the encyclical In Supremo Apostolatus stating:
…the slave trade, although it has diminished in more than one district, is still practiced by numerous Christians. This is why, desiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to vex anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour… We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices above-mentioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.
— Catholic Forum
Pope Gregory XVI canonized St Veronica Giuliani, an Italian mystic.
He died on June 1, 1846.