The members recall the premature death of King Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies at Caserta Palace on this day in 1859. The King was maligned by Italian revisionist history for a century after his death.
However, he is viewed in the modern South of Italy an a strong, energetic leader who championed the independence, growth and stability of the Two Sicilies in the mold of his ancestor, King Carlo. The nation during his reign was in the forefront of economic development, research, educational advancement and public health. He initiated the first railway in Italy; the nation was the second largest agricultural exporter on the continent; the public hospital and elder care facilities were built in the major cities; gas lighting was provided in large areas; public sanitation was promulgated; some agrarian reforms instituted; the military was modernized; the naval forces were the fourth largest in Europe; the public treasury had the largest surplus of any Italian state; there was no immigration from the area and generally, peace reigned. It was called the "regno del paradiso in terra."
He ruled in the fog of the troubles of the failed 1848 revolutions and took measures to curb the violence that was feared by the population. His alleged regression in Sicily pales however in terms of ferocity in the actions that were to follow by the occupation forces in 1860-61 and the war crimes instituted in the oppression that was imposed on the Southern provinces in 1861-1875 that resulted in the largest exodus of the population of the Two Sicilies that hitherto had enjoyed relative peace and stability during Ferdinando's reign.
He was survived by his second wife, Queen Maria Teresa and succeeded by his son, King Francesco II. Our current Grand Master, is descended from King Ferdinando II through his son, Prince Alfonso Maria II, Count of Caserta and his wife, Princess Maria Antonietta of the Two Sicilies. He is buried at the Royal Pantheon in the crypt of the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples close to his revered fist wife, the Blessed Queen Maria Cristina and other sovereigns of the Dynasty.
Chancellor, US Delegation