Posts Tagged ‘the lost art of the papal bull’

This Day in Revisionist History

December  8:

“Yeah, well, it applies to the Immaculate Conception and this, so end of conversation.” – Pope Pius IX, speaking on the doctrine of infallibility to the College of Cardinals, as they debated what to order for lunch and Pius found himself the lone advocate of fish sticks.

The Immaculate Conception holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born without original sin and blessed instead with the sanctifying grace of God. It was formally defined and declared by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854, under the doctrine of infallibility, meaning that the Immaculate Conception became a part of the Catholic dogma.

The doctrine of infallibility has often been misunderstood as meaning that the Pope can do or say no wrong, which it certainly does not mean. In an effort to prevent the further propagation of that falsehood, Pope Pius IX had always been very insistent that, as a man and not God, his infallibility was not constant, and often deferred to other leaders in the Church as a demonstration of his humanity. Continue reading

Top 173 Things in History: #76. Treaty of Tordesillas

Ever since the start of the World Cup, I’ve been waiting for a showdown between Spain and Portugal. But my two-and-a-half weeks of impatience doesn’t even compare to how long the Portuguese have waited for this: It is a chance at revenge 516 years in the making.

It was this month in 1494 that Portugal and Spain decided to update their global colonial claims with the Treaty of Tordesillas, which in principle divided the world between the two Iberian nations. I know, heady stuff, but it’s not like it wasn’t somewhat justified at the time. Columbus had just reached the New World under Spain’s flag, and Prince Henry the Navigator–arguably one of European history’s most famous princes*–had established a strong exploratory culture in Portugal earlier in the century. Amerigo Vespucci, like Columbus an Italian, sailed for the Portuguese and was the first to discover that this South America continent was pretty big, at least from north to south. Continue reading