Papal minister; b. Carrara, Italy, July 13, 1787; d. Rome, Nov. 15, 1848. Rossi became a professor of law in Naples, but was forced to flee the city after the downfall of Murat (1815). He then taught law at Geneva, and at the Collège de France, Paris, from 1833. In France Rossi became a close friend of guizot, was appointed a member of the Chamber of Peers (1839), and ambassador to Rome (1846). His intellectual and personal qualities so impressed pius ix (1846–78) that he retained Rossi as an adviser after the 1848 revolution in France cost the ambassador his post. The pope named him chief minister (September 1848), hoping thereby to placate liberal bourgeois elements. The states of the church were facing pressing political, economic, and military problems. To avoid inflation Rossi had to arrange loans throughout Europe. He initiated reforms in finance and the civil service, and proposed building railroad and telegraph networks. His belief was that improved administration was more urgent than liberalization and democratization of government. He proved unable to satisfy any party, however, and was called a reactionary by some, a dictator by others. The clergy suspected him for his doctrinaire liberalism, his Protestant wife, and his intention to abolish some of their privileges. Vested interests disliked his economic solutions. Liberal nationalists disapproved of his favor shown to the plans of neo-guelfism and a federated Italy under the presidency of the pope, and his opposition to papal involvement in war. Rossi was stabbed to death by a member of the revolutionary party as he prepared to present his reform program at the opening of the Chamber. The brutal crime incited an attack on the Quirinal Palace next day, and led to Pius IX's flight to Gaeta and subsequent change of attitude toward political reforms.
Bibliography: r. giovagnoli, Rossi e la rivoluzione romana, 3 v. (Rome 1898–1911). g. brigante colonna, L'uccisione di P. Rossi (Milan 1938). r. de cesare, The Last Days of Papal Rome, tr. h. zimmern (London 1909). e. e. y. hales, Pio Nono (New York 1954). r. aubert, Le Pontificat de Pie IX (Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours 21; 2d ed. 1964). c. a. biggini, Enciclopedia Italiana di scienzi, littere ed arti 30:144–145.
[r. f. harney]