In company with two of its officers, on my first visit to Rome, I found myself one day in a long corridor of the Vatican, awaiting a presentation to Pope Pius IX. While lingering there in expectation of his coming, we talked together in low tones of the man we were about to see, remembering that many years before, there came to Pius VII. an officer of his guard who begged to tell him the great sorrow of his life, -that he was subject to attacks of epilepsy. Existence, therefore, was so terrible that he was tempted to destroy himself. The Holy Father gave him excellent advice, told him to implore God for relief, and promised that to his prayers he would add his own. The officer recovered. In gratitude he left the army and became a priest. Many years later he, himself, was elected Pope, and at once assumed the name of his benefactor, Pius; and he it was whose coming we expected every moment.
A Gallery In The Vatican.
At length the sound of approaching steps was heard. The Papal Guards presented arms and Pius IX. appeared within the doorway. He was a handsome, well-preserved old man arrayed in white from head to foot. His manners were courteous and pleasing. Advancing toward us, with a charming smile, he said in French, "Ah, here are some good Americans who have come to see me." Then, after a few pleasant questions addressed to each of us about America and our stay in Rome, he passed on with his suite of cardinals, waving to us his blessing from a plump, white hand.
As for the present occupant of the Vatican, Leo XIII., St. Peter's chair has rarely held a broader-minded statesman. His views on social and political questions place him among the leading thinkers of the world.
Moreover, he is a distinguished scholar. His tastes are highly intellectual; his letters and addresses are composed in elegant and polished Latin; and verses which he writes from time to time, in Latin or Italian, have earned for him the title of poet.
Leo XIII. (as one who knew his private life for seven years assured me) usually rises at six in the morning. At seven he says mass in his private chapel. This is followed by a light breakfast. Then he looks over his letters and papers until the arrival of his Secretary of State at nine. The forenoon passes in conferences on State affairs and in giving audiences. At two o'clock he dines. Only a few are ever admitted to this repast, and they, according to Papal etiquette, are not allowed to sit with the Holy Father, but at a table just below him. In the afternoon Leo descends into the extensive gardens of the Vatican within the shaded paths of which the Pontiff takes his only outdoor exercise.
The Gardens Of The Vatican.
The Vatican Enclosure.
Here for an hour or two he walks or drives, noting with interest the cultivation of his trees and flowers. Then follow other audiences and religious consultations on important matters till evening. From that time on, until he retires, the Pope is always studying.
It is well known that since the creation of a united Italy, with Rome as its political capital, the Popes have never left the Vatican enclosure, remaining there in silent protest at their loss of temporal power. It is true the palace and its gardens are extensive; but, however large the cage and however beautiful its gilded bars, the eagle feels itself a captive still. Hence, there have doubtless been times in all these years when Leo XIII. has longed for greater liberty of movement, and in the sickening summer heat of Rome has pined for the pure breezes of his mountain home. The Italian Government, however, must feel relieved to have the Pope thus safely sheltered. What would not its responsibility and terror be, if Leo should walk out through the Eternal City in these appalling days of anarchism, bombs, and daggers?
The Library Of The Vatican.