Papal vaccination campaigns offered punishments and rewards 200 years ago

Vatican City – When the popes were kings, they ordered all their subjects in the Papal States to be vaccinated, using punishments and rewards to convince the hesitant and ensuring that the poor and prisoners were also vaccinated.

Vatican News recounted how, as a smallpox epidemic swept through central Italy in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Pope Pius VII devoted all of his time power to a vaccination campaign.

The text of a law promulgated on June 20, 1822 by Pope Pius’ Secretary of State, Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, described the new smallpox vaccine as a gift “put in place by divine providence” as a sign of “love. father of God to save his children. “

But the text noted that not everyone viewed the vaccine as a gift, and denounced appearances that “a deep-seated prejudice is stronger in some parents than love for their offspring.”

“The legislation specified that in order to obtain subsidies, benefits or bonuses, it was necessary to provide the ‘certificate proving that the applicant, being the father of the family, has been vaccinated'”, indicates the Vatican News report of May 7.

Refusal of the vaccine was defined as “reprehensible behavior” leading to loss of benefits.

The pope has established committees to oversee the vaccination campaign and has linked the approval of doctors to their willingness to vaccinate patients, according to the report.

But two years later, Pope Leo XII, who succeeded Pope Pius in 1823, abolished the vaccination requirement.

And his efforts drew praise from one of Rome’s most famous poets, Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, who wrote a sonnet extolling the virtues of the new Pope who “freed” his people from an invention of the “Freemasons”. And restored the possibility that only God would decide when it was time for someone to die.

Pope Gregory XVI, elected in 1831, relaunched the vaccination campaign and also extended it to all prisoners. Pope Pius IX, the last of the popes in temporal power, continued the campaign and designated a financial reward of “two paoli” – 20 cents of scudo – for those who returned eight days after being vaccinated to have its effectiveness verified. , the Vatican News Report said.


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