chapter  6
“From Cork […] to St. Peter’s Cupola”
The Idea of Italy in the Writings of Francis Sylvester Mahony
WithFergus Dunne
Pages 32

In agreeing to join The Daily News, Francis Sylvester Mahony finally severed the strong ties he had developed with British Toryism in the 1830s, as he now began to espouse the cause of liberal reform. Mahony demonstrates considerable ingenuity in tracing suggestive analogies in the respective histories of Italy and Ireland, throwing an unorthodox light on some of the pieties of Catholic nationalism. With the death of Pope Gregory on June 1, 1846, Mahony began to dramatically reconsider his predominantly negative appraisal of what "had seemed the center of European anti-liberalism." Mahony had set himself the complex task of presenting a sympathetic portrait of the emergent middle-class nationalist movement in Italy without directly endorsing similar political developments in Ireland. Subverting the standard nationalist tactic of projecting a set of political values onto a representative individual, he envisaged Don Savonarola as an ecumenical figure symbolic of anti-nationalist Catholic opinion in the pre-Famine era.