The large sculpture depicting Pope Pio IX is kept inside the church of San Giovanni Evangelista in Turin (called San Giovannino by the citizens of Turin to differentiate it from the Duomo).
The work was commissioned by Francesco Confalonieri in 1882 and was originally intended to be placed in the churchyard of the church of San Giovannino, but for safety’s sake it was moved inside the church and placed on the counter-façade, because there were still anticlerical groups against Pio IX (due to the Risorgimento vicissitudes concerning him while he was still alive).
It is said that the plinth and parts of the monument contained in large cases which arrived at Porta Nuova station in Turin were transported and handled to their destination by hired anti-clerical demonstrators who were not informed about the contents of the cases.
The monument depicts Pio IX at 360 ° with dimensions beyond reality. It is almost entirely carved in a single block of marble (white Carrara marble), only the right arm and the small sphere that surmounts the tiara, in fact, were made separately and then joined together.
The sculptor Francesco Confalonieri was born in Costa Masnaga, a small village in Brianza, in 1850. The family moved to Milan in 1864 and Francesco, after high school, enrolled at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. His artistic career was profoundly marked by the sculptor Vincenzo Vela, his teacher, with whom he formed a lasting friendship. Between 1887 and 1891 he taught modelling at the Brera Academy and then, until 1921, ornamentation.
In 1880 he made a marble statue of Pope Pio IX (Milan, S. Ambrogio; the Pope, who had died two years earlier, has the papal tiara on his head): there are two marble copies of the statue, one in Turin (1882), church of S. Giovanni Evangelista, and the other in Rome (1886), church of the Sacro Cuore di Gesù al Castro pretorio.