While looking for Catholic resources for celebrating National Epilepsy Awareness Month I found “Seizures Among Public Figures: Lessons Learned From the Epilepsy of Pope Pius IX.”
It is clear that Pius IX had partial epilepsy resulting from a combination of anoxia from an accident at a young age and developmental anomalies, as evidenced by hemiplegia and facial asymmetry apparent from his photographs. Epilepsy clearly affected Pius IX’s choice of vocation and could have had a role in the historical context of Catholic doctrine.
Epilepsy greatly influenced Pius IX’s career. Because of his seizures, Pius IX’s goal of becoming a Papal Noble Guard was abandoned. As a result, he entered into the priesthood, leading him to the pathway of church leadership. Interestingly, Pius IX had to be decreed seizure free before he could be anointed a priest.
…approval of dogma on the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary was inherently Pius IX’s thanks to the Virgin Mary for having cured him of his epilepsy.
Epilepsy is largely ignored in my little corner of the Catholic world and so I find it astounding to think of a future pope having limitations placed on his celebration of the mass due to the disease.