In 1888 Fr. Edgardo Mortara wrote his autobiography so that the world
would understand he had not been kidnapped by the Vatican. Here, along
with a thorough introduction by Vittorio Messori, his story is published
for the first time in English.
As an infant, Mortara was on the
point of death and secretly baptized by a Catholic servant employed by
his family. He recovered his health, and in the Papal States where his
family lived, the law required that he, like other baptized children,
receive a Christian education. After several failed attempts to persuade
his parents to enroll him in a local Catholic school, in 1858 Pope Pius
IX had the boy taken from his family in Bologna and sent to a Catholic
boarding school in Rome. There the child grew in Faith and eventually
responded to the calling to become a Catholic priest.
Case reverberated around the world. Journalists, politicians, and Jewish
leaders tried to pressure Pius IX to reverse his decision. The pope's
refusal to do so was used as one of the reasons to dissolve the Papal
States in 1870. Currently the case is being used as an argument against
the canonization of Pius IX, whom John Paul II beatified in 2000.