Pope Pius X
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Pope Saint Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto (June 2, 1835 – August 20, 1914), was Pope from 1903 to 1914, succeeding Pope Leo XIII. He was the first pope since the Counter-Reformation Pope St. Pius V to be canonized. Despite this, the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X was one of the more controversial of modern papacies. Nevertheless, he is considered by many to have been one of the greatest Pontiffs ever to reign.
Early life and ministry
Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born June 2 1835 in Riese, Province of Treviso, in Venice, Italy. He was the second born of ten children of Giovanni Battista Sarto (1792-1852) and Margarita Sanson (1813-1894). He was baptized June 3, 1835. Giuseppe's childhood was one of poverty, being the son of the village postman (his father) and seamstress (his mother).
At a young age, Giuseppe studied Latin with his village priest, and went on to study at the gymnasium of Castelfranco Veneto. "In 1850 he received the tonsure from the Bishop of Treviso, and was given a scholarship [from] the Diocese of Treviso" to attend the Seminary of Padua "where he finished his classical, philosophical, and theological studies with distinction" [].
In 1858, Giuseppe Sarto was ordained a priest, and became chaplain at Tombolo. While there, Father Sarto expanded his knowledge of theology, studying both Saint Thomas Aquinas and canon law, while carrying out most of the functions of the parish pastor, who was quite ill. In 1867, he was named Arch-Priest of Salzano. Here he restored the church and expanded the hospital, the funds coming from his own begging, wealth and labor. He became popular with the people when he worked to assist the sick during the cholera plague that swept into northern Italy in the early 1870s.
In 1875 he was made Canon (or Chancellor) of the Cathedral and Diocese of Treviso, holding offices such as spiritual director, rector of the Treviso seminary, and examiner of the clergy. As Chancellor he made it possible for public school students to receive religious instruction.
In 1878 Bishop Zanelli died, leaving the Bishopric of Mantua vacant. Following Zanelli's death, the canons of cathedral chapters (of which Monsignor Sarto was one) inherited the episcopal jurisdiction as corporate body, and were chiefly responsible for the election of a Vicar-Capitular who would take over the responsibilities of Mantua until a new bishop was named. In 1879, Sarto was elected to the position, which he served in from December of that year to June of 1880.
Bishop of Mantua
Sarto was motivated to improve the seminary at Mantua, particularly in bringing it more in line with the doctrines and methods of Thomas Aquinas. He also promoted the use of Gregorian Chant. He is noted to have provided free copies of Summa Theologiae to the poorer students at the seminary. On June 19, 1891, he began serving as assistant at the Pontifical Throne.
Cardinal & Patriarch
Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal in a secret consistory on June 12, 1893. He was named Cardinal-Priest of Saint Bernardo alle Terme. Three days after this, Cardinal Sarto was publicly named Patriarch of Venice. This caused difficulty, however, as the government of the reunified Italy claimed the right to nominate the Patriarch based on its previous alleged exercise by the Emperor of Austria. The poor relations between the Roman Curia and the Italian civil government since the annexation of the Papal States in 1870 placed additional strain on the appointment. Sarto was permitted to assume the position of Patriarch in 1896.
As Cardinal and Patriarch, Sarto steered clear of political involvement. However, in his first pastoral letter to the Venetians, Cardinal Sarto argued that in matters pertaining to the Pope, "there should be no questions, no subtleties, no opposing of personal rights to his rights, but only obedience."
On July 20, 1903, Pope Leo XIII died, and subsequently (by August) the conclave convened to elect a new Pope. According to historians, the favorite was Leo XIII's secretary of state, Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro. On the first ballot, Cardinal Rampolla received 24 votes, Cardinal Gotti had 17 votes, and Cardinal Sarto 5 votes. On the second ballot, Rampolla had gained 5 votes, as did Sarto. The next day, it seemed that Rampolla would be elected. However, the veto against Rampolla's nomination, by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary, was proclaimed. Many among the conclave, including Rampolla, protested the veto, and it was even suggested that he be elected Pope despite the veto.
However, the third vote had already begun, and thus the conclave had to continue with the voting, which resulted in no clear winner, though it did indicate that many of the conclave wished to turn their support to Sarto, who had 21 votes upon counting. The fourth vote showed Rampolla with 30 votes and Sarto with 24. It seemed clear that the cardinals were moving toward Cardinal Sarto.
On the following morning, the fifth vote of the conclave was taken, and the count had Rampolla with 10 votes, Gotti with 2 votes, and Sarto with 50 votes [Source]. Thus, on 4 August 1903, Cardinal Sarto was elected to the 257th Pontificate. (See Papal conclave, 1903) This marked the last time a veto would be exercised by a Catholic monarch in the proceedings of the conclave.
At first, it is reported, Sarto declined the nomination, feeling unworthy. Additionally, he had been deeply saddened by the use of the Austro-Hungarian veto and vowed to rescind these powers and excommunicate anyone who leaked information during a conclave. With the cardinals asking him to reconsider, it is further reported, he went into solitude, and took the position after deep prayer, and the urging of his fellow cardinals.
In accepting the Papacy, he took as his Papal name Pius X, out of respect for his recent predecessors of the same name, particularly Pius IX, who had resisted persecution and fought against theological errors. Pius X's traditional coronation took place on the following Sunday, 9 August 1903.
Pius X's Pontificate
Pope Pius X
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
The pontificate of Pope St. Pius X was noted for its conservative agenda and as one of the most controversial modern papacies. In what became his motto, Pius X stated in 1903 that his papacy will undertake Instaurare Omnia in Christo, or "to restore all things to Christ." In his first encyclical (E Supremi Apostolatus, October 4, 1903), he stated that his overriding policy as follows: "We champion the authority of God. His authority and Commandments should be recognized, deferred to, and respected."
The Motu Proprio of 1903 & the Restoration of Gregorian Chant
Within three months of his coronation, Pius X published the Motu Proprio (possibly co-written by his friend, Lorenzo Perosi). classical and Baroque compositions had long been favoured over Gregorian Chant in ecclesiastical music. Pius X announced a return to earlier musical styles, championed by Don Perosi. Since 1898, Perosi had been Director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, a title which Pius upgraded to "Perpetual Director."
Pius X reversed the accommodating approach of Leo XIII towards secular governments, appointing Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val. When the President of France Émile Loubet visited Italian monarch Victor Emmanuel III. Pius X, still refusing to accept the annexation of the Papal territories by Italy, reproached the French president for this visit and refused to meet him. This led to a diplomatic break with France, and in 1905 France issued a Law of Separation, which the Pope denounced. The effect of this separation was the Church’s loss of its government funding in France. Eventually, France expelled the Jesuits.
The pope adopted a similar position toward secular governments in other parts of the world: in Portugal, Ireland, Poland, Ethiopia, and a number of other states with large Catholic populations. All of his actions and statements angered the secular powers of these countries, as well as a few others, like England and Russia.
As secular authority challenged that of the papacy, Pius X became more aggressive. He suspended the Opera Dei Congressi, which coordinated the work of Catholic associations in Italy, as well as condemned Le Sillon, a French social movement that tried to reconcile the Church with liberal political views. He also opposed trade unions that were not exclusively Catholic.
In addition to restoring to prominence the Gregorian Chant, he placed a renewed liturgical emphasis on the Eucharist, saying, "Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven." To this end, he encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion. This extended to children, who had reached the “age of discretion” (about seven years old), as well, though he did not permit a return to the apostolic practice of infant communion. In conjunction, he also emphasized frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Penance in order that the Holy Communion would be taken worthily. Pius X’s devotion to the Eucharist would eventually earn him the honorific of “Pope of the Blessed Sacrament,” by which he is still known among his devotees.
Pius X's papacy featured vigorous condemnation of what he termed 'modernists' and 'relativists' who endangered the Catholic faith (see for example his Anti-Modernist oath). This is perhaps the most controversial aspect of his papacy.
Modernism and relativism, in terms of its presence in the Church, were theological trends that tried to assimilate modern philosophers like Kant into church theology, in much the same way Aristotelian philosophy was united with theology by the scholastics. Modernists justified this change with the idea that beliefs of the church have evolved throughout its history and continue to evolve. Anti-modernists viewed these notions as contrary to the dogmas and traditions of the Catholic Church.
In a decree, entitled Lamentabili sane exitu (or "A Lamentable Departure Indeed"), issued 3 July 1907, Pius X formally condemned sixty-five modernist or relativist propositions concerning the nature of the Church, revelation, biblical exegesis, the sacraments, and the divinity of Christ. This was followed by the encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis (or "Feeding the Lord’s Flock"), which characterized Modernism as the "synthesis of all heresies." Following these, Pius X ordered that all clerics take the Sacrorum antistitum, an oath against Modernism. He also encouraged the formation and efforts of Sodalitium Pianum (or League of St. Pius V), an anti-Modernist network of informants.
Pius X’s aggressive stance against modernism caused internal disruption to the Church. Although only about forty clerics refused to take the oath, Catholic scholarship was substantially discouraged. Theologians who wished to pursue secular lines of inquiry or lines of inquiry considered as being in line with modernism or relativism had to stop, or face a war with the papacy, and possibly even excommunication.
In addition to the political defense of the Church, liturgical changes, and anti-modernism, the papacy of Pius X saw the both the codification of the canon law and the reorganization of the Roman Curia. Additionally, seminaries and their curricula were reformed.
Pius X beatified ten individuals and canonized four. Those beatified during Pius X’s pontificate, were: Blessed Marie Genevieve Meunier (1906), Blessed Rose Chretien (1906), Saint Valentin Faustino Berri Ochoa (1906), Blessed Clarus (1907), Blessed Zedislava Berka (1907), Saint John Bosco (1907), Blessed John van Ruysbroeck (1908), Blessed Andrew Nam Thung (1909), Saint Agatha Lin (1909), Saint Agnes De (1909), Saint Joan of Arc (1909), Saint John Eudes (1909). Those canonized by Pius X were Saint Alexander Sauli (1904), Saint Gerard Majella (1904), Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer (1909), and Saint Joseph Oriol (1909).
In the Prophecy of St Malachy, the collection of 112 prophecies about the popes, Pope Pius X appears as Ignis Ardens or "Burning Fire."
Death & Burial
In 1913, Pius X suffered a heart attack, and subsequently lived in the shadow of ill health. On 15 August 1914, Pius X fell ill on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, an illness from which he would not recover. Moreover, the events leading to the outbreak of World War I, over which the Pontiff was horrified, did not help his condition; they reportedly caused the 79 year-old Pontiff to fall into a melancholy state. He died almost at the same time as Franz Xavier Wernz.
Following his death, Pius X was buried in a simple and unadorned tomb in the crypt below St. Peter's Basilica. Papal doctors had been in the habit of removing organs to aid the embalming process. However, Pius expressly prohibited this and none of his successors allowed the practice be reinstituted.
Although Pius X's elevation to sainthood took place in 1954, the events leading up to it began immediately with his death. A letter of 24 September 1916 by Monsignor Leo, Bishop of Nicotera and Tropea, referred to Pius X as "a great saint and a great Pope." To accommodate the large number of pilgrims seeking access to his tomb, in excess of what the crypt would hold, "a small metal cross was set into the floor of the basilica," which read Pius Papa X, "so that the faithful might kneel down directly above the tomb" . Masses were held near his tomb until 1930.
Devotion to Pius X between the two world wars remained high. On 14 February 1923, in honor of the 20th anniversary of his accession to the papacy, the first moves toward his canonization began with the formal appointment of those who would carry out his cause. The event was marked by the erecting of a monument in his memory in St. Peter's Basilica. On 19 August 1939, Pius XII delivered a tribute to Pius X at Castel Gandolfo. On 12 February 1943, a further development of Pius X's cause was declared.
On 19 May 1944, Pope Pius X's coffin was exhumed and was taken to the Chapel of the Holy Crucifix in St. Peter's Basilica for the canonical examination. Upon opening the coffin, the examiners found the body of Pius X completely preserved, despite the fact that he had died 30 years before and was not embalmed. According to accounts, "no part of the skeleton was uncovered, no bones were exposed" and that "all of the body" of Pius X "was in an excellent state of conservation" . After the examination and the end of the apostolic process towards Pius X's cause, Pope Pius XII bestowed the title of Venerable Servant of God upon Pius X. His body was exposed for 45 days, before being placed back in his tomb.
Following this, the process towards beatification began, and thus investigations by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (S.C.R.) into miracles performed by intercessory work of Pius X subsequently took place. The S.C.R. would eventually recognize two miracles. The first involved Sr. Marie-Frangoise Deperras, a nun who had bone cancer and was cured on 7 December 1928 during a novena in which a relic of Pius X was placed on her chest. The second involved Sr. Benedetta De Maria, who had cancer, and in a novena started in 1938, she eventually touched a relic and was immediately cured.
Pope Pius XII officially approved the two miracles on 11 February 1951; and on 4 March, Pius XII, in his De Tuto, declared that the Church could proceed in the beatification of the Venerable Pope Pius X. His beatification took place on 3 June 1951 at St. Peter's before 23 cardinals, hundreds of bishops and archbishops, and a crowd of 100,000 faithful. During his beatification decree, Pius XII referred to Pius X as "Pope of the Eucharist", in honor of Pius X's expansion of the rite to children. The Blessed Pius X's feast day was established as 3 September.
Following his beatification, on 17 February 1952, Pius X's body was transferred from its tomb to the Vatican basilica and placed under the altar of the chapel of the Presentation. As it was in 1944, Pius X's body was not "corrupted" by decay, a condition that remains true even to this day. The Pontiff's body lies within a glass and bronze-work sarcophagus for the faithful to see.
On 29 May 1954, less than three years after his beatification, Pope Pius X was canonized, following the S.C.R.'s recognition of two more miracles. The first involved Francesco Belsami, an attorney from Naples who had a fatal pulmonary abscess, who was cured upon placing a picture of the Blessed Pope Pius X upon his chest. The second miracle involved Sister Maria Ludovica Scorcia, a nun who was afflicted with a serious neurotropic virus, and who, upon several novenas, was entirely cured. The Canonization mass was presided over by Pope Pius XII at Saint Peter's Basillica before a crowd of about 800,000 [] of the faithful and church officials at St. Peter's Basilica. Pius X became the first Pope to be canonized since the 17th century.
Prayer cards often depict the sanctified Pontiff with instruments of communion. This can be seen in the Prayer to Saint Pius X.
In addition to being celebrated as the "Pope of the Blessed Sacrament," St. Pius X is also the patron saint of the emigrant from Treviso, and of Esperantists. He is honored at numerous parishes in Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Canada.
Papal Coat of Arms
The papal arms of Pius X are composed of the traditional elements of all papal heraldry prior to Pope Benedict XVI: the shield, the papal tiara, and the keys. The tiara and keys are typical symbols used in the coats of arms of pontiffs, which symbolize their authority.
The shield of Pius X's coat of arms is charged in two basic parts, as it is per fess. In chief (the top part of the shield) shows the arms of the Patriarch of Venice, which Pius X was from 1893-1903. It consists of the lion of St. Mark proper and haloed in silver upon a silver-white background, displaying a book with the inscription of PAX TIBI MARCE, which refers to the motto of Venice Pax tibi Marce, Evangelista meus, which is Latin for Peace to you, Mark my evangelist. This motto refers to Venice as the final resting place of Saint Mark. Renditions of this part of Pius X's arms depict the lion either with or without a sword, and sometimes only one side of the book is written on.
The remainder of the shield displays the arms Pius X took as Bishop of Mantua: an anchor proper cast into a stormy sea (the blue and silver wavy lines), lit up by a single six-pointed star of gold. These were inspired by Hebrews 6:19, which states that the hope we have is the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. Pius X, then Bishop Sarto, stated that "hope is the sole companion of my life, the greatest support in uncertainty, the strongest power in situations of weakness."
Although not present upon his arms, the only motto attributed to Pius X is the one for which he is best remembered: instaurare omnia in Christo (Latin for "To restore all things in Christ").
Domenico Cardinal Agostini
|Patriarch of Venice
Aristide Cardinal Cavallari