WHY THE POPE WILL NEVER HAVE SOLDIERS.
I paid a visit to a Roman Prelate well known for his devotion to the interests of the Church, the temporal power of the Popes, and the August person of the Holy Father.
When I was introduced to his oratory I found him reading over the proof-sheets of a thick volume, entitled Administration of the Military Forces.
He threw down his pen with an air of discouragement, and showed me the two following quotations which he had inscribed on the title-page of the book:
“Every independent State should
suffice to itself, and assure its
internal security by its own forces.”—Count de Rayneval; note of
14th May, 1855.
“The troops of the Pope will always
be the troops of the Pope. What
are warriors who have never made war?”—De Brosses.
After I had reflected a little upon these not very consoling passages, the Prelate said,
“You have not been very long at Rome, and your impressions ought to be just, because they are fresh. What do you think of our Romans? Do the descendants of Marius appear to you a race without courage, incapable of confronting danger? If it be indeed true that the nation has retained nothing of its patrimony, not even its physical courage, all our efforts to create a national force in Rome are foredoomed to failure. The Popes must for ever remain disarmed in the presence of their enemies. Nothing is left for them but to entrench themselves behind the mercenary courage of a Swiss garrison or the respectful protection of a great Catholic power. What becomes of independence? What becomes of sovereignty?”
“Monsignore,” I replied,
“I already know the Romans too well to judge them by the calumnies of their enemies. I daily see with what intemperate courage this violent and hot-blooded people gives and receives death. I know the esteem expressed by Napoleon I. for the regiments he raised here. And we can say between ourselves that there were many of the subjects of the Pope in the revolutionary army which defended Rome against the French. I am persuaded, then, that the Holy Father has no need to go abroad to find men, and that a few years would serve to make these men good soldiers. What is much less evident to me is the real necessity for having a Roman army. Does the Pope want to aggrandise himself by war? No. Does he fear lest some enemy should invade his States? Certainly not. He is better protected by the veneration of Europe than by a line of fortresses. If, by a scarcely possible eventuality, any difference were to arise between the Holy See and an Italian Monarchy, the Pope has the means of resistance at hand, without striking a blow; for he counts more soldiers in Piedmont, in Tuscany, and in the Two Sicilies, than the Neapolitans, the Tuscans, and the Piedmontese would well know how to send against him. So much for the exterior; and the situation