Feast day: February 7
Blessed Pope Pius IX was born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti. He was an intelligent and reverent young man who was afflicted with epilepsy. Giovanni attended Piarist College in Volterra, Italy, and then continued his studies in Rome. He wished to join the Papal Noble Guard, but was not admitted due to his epilepsy. After his rejection, Giovanni studied theology at the Roman Seminary. During his studies at the seminary, his epilepsy disappeared.
Giovanni was chosen Pope in 1846 and took the name Pius IX. Pope Pius IX was the longest-serving Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, acting as Pope for almost 32 years. During his papacy, he convened the First Vatican Council. Pope Pius IX also defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, stating that Mary was conceived without Original Sin.
He was the last Pope to rule the Papal States. Blessed Pope Pius IX passed on to his heavenly reward on February 7, 1878, and is buried in the Papal Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome, Italy.