Pius IX Takes Repossession of the City of Rome and the Lateran Basilica

The Louisiana Chapter

Carlo De Paris (1800-1861), Pio IX ritorna da Gaeta, olio su tela, 1850, Musei Vaticani,Museo Storico, Vaticano, Palazzo Aspotolico Lateranense, scalone

After the capitulation of the Roman Republic (during which Pope Pius IX remained in exile in Naples as a guest of King Ferdinand II), the Sovereign Pontiff was able to return to Rome and finally arrived on April 12, 1850.
This large canvas by Spanish artist Carlo De Paris represents the precise moment in which the Pontiff triumphantly arrives in the square before the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The clergy and governors of the city are outfitted in brocaded robes of crimson and gold (distinctive of their authority), and are seen welcoming the Pope by offering him on bended knee the keys of Rome on a silver platter. This scene depicting the “the repossession” is particularly rich in detail: the watchful gaze of the welcoming crowd, the vigilant presence of the nobility, the stately Pontifical Swiss Guard, and the onward-looking Canons of St. John. All are represented outside the Basilica in striking detail along with the bell and most precious ancient Lateran Cross. The importance of this work is easily recognizable, as it practically documents in “photographic” detail and precision this momentous event in the history of the papacy in Rome.