Tiaras of the Popes: Three Tiaras of Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX, or "Pio Nono," is perhaps one of the most well known of modern popes, having reigned as Roman pontiff from the years 1846 to 1878. It is no doubt the length of his tenure, which at 31.5 years is second only to St. Peter himself and a few years longer than that of John Paul II, that in part contributes to this. Of course, it is also for reason of various events that took place in and around his pontificate as well, most notably the calling of the First Vatican Council in 1868, as well as declaring the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and the dogma of papal infallibility (defined at the First Vatican Council between 1869-1870).  It was also under Pius IX that a great deal of centralization to Rome taking place, and in mnay ways we can say that Pius IX was the 'father' of the modern papacy as we now tend to think of it. 

Pius IX was also a great patron of the arts, putting much effort into the improvement and beautification of churches in Rome and the papal states. He also is responsible for the strengthening of the Colosseum, which was feared to be on the verge of collapse, and the pursuit of archeological excavations of the Catacombs. 

Given the length of his tenure as Roman pontiff and given too that he was the last pontiff to rule the papal states -- which would fall in 1870 -- it should likely come as little surprise that he is one of the popes of whom we have the most tiaras. Indeed, set within that backdrop, his tiaras are of particular interest. Today we shall look at three of them.

The first, called the "Spanish Tiara," it was a gift of Queen Isabella II of Spain to Pope Pius IX in 1854-55. 

Next we have the "Belgian Tiara." This particular tiara was a gift of the ladies of the royal court of King Leopold II of Belgium, presented to the pope in 1871. It was designed by Jean-Baptiste Bethune of Ghent in a neo-gothic style and has the following Latin inscription that is distributed over the three crowns on coloured enamels of red, green and blue:


Finally, we have the Palatine Tiara which was a gift from the pope's Palatine Guard in 1877, made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pius IX's episcopal consecration. 

This particular tiara was that which was familiarly used for the coronation Mass of every successive pope since Pius IX until the time of Pope Paul VI.  Here it can be seen worn by Pope John XXIII at his coronation. 

All of these tiaras are in the possession of the Vatican. Another of Pius IX's tiaras (which is not quite so spectacular as these) is on display at the University of Notre Dame's basilica of the Sacred Heart. 

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