Informations and abstract
Keywords: Peter's Pence; Devotion; Ultramontanism; Politicization.
Since the end of the popes' temporal power, Peter's pence has been the Catholic Church's main source of financial support. Historiography has investigated the phenomenon from multiple perspectives: economic features in connection with papal finances have been highlighted, as well as religious aspects as the spreader of devotion to the Roman pontiff, and as a political instrument for the papacy in the age of secular nation-states. Nevertheless, all these analyses are based on a chronology focusing on the final sunset of the Papal States starting from the turning point in 1859-60. This paper aims to reinterpret the origins of the phenomenon in light of new evidence. It does so by shifting the modern rebirth of Peter's Pence decisively back to the 1847-49 period; it thus demonstrates that the renaissance of a Medieval form of economic support for the sovereign pontiff had to be placed in the midst of the European mobilization in favour of Pope Pius IX's «liberal» reforms in 1847. The essay proceeds to reconstruct the metamorphosis of original, transversal Catholic participation into a final intransigent consolidation in 1849, in a climate of counter-revolutionary restoration. The analysis then highlights the original political nature of the first subscriptions for the pope, emerging from the forms of politicization in the Romantic age. It lastly casts light upon the moral and economic nature overlaid upon the logic of exchange between the sovereign pontiff and Catholic masses.