In my other day job I am the captain of HMS Surprise. Therefore I took note of something I read about Bl. Pius IX and USS Constitution. You will recall from your reading of The Fortune of War that Jack and Stephen were aboard HMS Java in its battle with Constitution. Thus, the link.
In George Weigel’s bit about Popes in These United States (thanks, George, for the “These”, which is was I now always write), I read this:
1848 was a year of upheaval throughout Europe; in November of that year, Pius IX fled Rome and took refuge at Gaeta, a harbor town south of Naples. A month later, U.S.S. Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” sailed for Europe to show the flag and protect American interests and citizens amidst the political turmoil. After stops in Tripoli and Alexandria, the big frigate cruised into Italian waters and in August 1849 was berthed in Gaeta. The ship’s surgeon invited the pope and Kind Ferdinand II of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to visit Constitution, where the two rulers were duly welcomed with all honors. Pius IX blessed the Catholics in the crew, who were lined up on the gun deck, and after being entertained by the captain in his quarters, was seen off with another 21-gun salute. Pius later sent rosaries to all the Catholic tars on “Old Ironsides,” and gave the ship’s captain, John Gwinn, a medal with the papal image and coat-of-arms.
And just because I am getting tired of Jesuits and all who give them aid and comfort…
In the Reverse of the Medal, Dr. Maturin, Stephen, a master of invective, flashed out some brilliance concerning Jesuits. Context: Jack Aubrey has met a son, fathered many years before out of wedlock, but he is distressed to learn that he is godforbid a Papist. He wonders if he was godforbid also trained by Jesuits.
Jack speaks to Stephen (a Papist, of course):
‘You remember the Gordon riots, and all the tales about the Jesuits being behind the King’s madness and many other things. By the way, Stephen, those Fathers were not Jesuits, I suppose? I did not like to ask straight out.’
‘Of course not, Jack. They were suppressed long ago. Clement XIV put them down in the seventies, and a very good day’s work he did. Sure, they have been trying to creep back on one legalistic pretext or another and I dare say they will soon make a sad nuisance of themselves again, turning out atheists from the schools by the score; but these gentlemen had nothing to do with them, near or far.’