Sede Vacante, 1846

Muntoni 1; Berman 3294, PCGS graded MS-63

Rome. SEDE VACANTE MDCCCXXXXVI, canopy and crossed keys over shield; R below. Reverse: *NON RELINQVAM VOS ORPHANOS*, radiant dove; 5 SC below.

This gold 5-scudi piece was struck during the 15 days between June 1 and the election of Pope Pius IX on June 15, 1846. During this period the Throne of St. Peter was vacant as the cardinals of the Church assembled in conclave to choose the successor of the deceased Pope Gregory XVI. The conclave was a difficult one because the College of Cardinals was rent by factionalism, with some favoring hard-line papal absolutism and others increased liberalism and moderate reform. At the end of the 15 days they had elected the liberal-leaning Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti to rule as Pope Pius IX. His election was widely celebrated in Europe (even by Protestants!) as he was expected to be a reforming and modernizing figure in the Church.