St. Pius X was a much-loved pope. He was raised in a poor family as the second of ten children. As Pope, he is known for opposing modernism and promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox theology.
St. Pius X, Pope
Giuseppe Sarto was born in Riese (Treviso, Italy) in 1835, the second of ten children. His father died when Giuseppe was sixteen, leaving the family in financial straits. Still, the mother insisted that the boy continue his education to fulfil his boyhood desire to become a priest. At the age of twenty-three, he was ordained Priest and was in the pastoral ministry for 17 years. He became a Bishop in 1884 and a Cardinal in 1892, being promoted to the See of Venice as Patriarch. On the death of Pope Leo XII in 1903, he was elected Pope after the emperor of Austria formally opposed the choice of Cardinal Rampolla.
In his first encyclical letter, Pius X announced his aim “to renew all things in Christ,” and nothing was better calculated to do that than his decrees concerning the sacrament of the Eucharist: daily Communion, when possible, was recommended; children should be allowed to receive Communion upon attaining the use of reason; sick people were able to have Communion more often. Catechetical instruction for all was encouraged; daily reading of the Bible was strongly urged. Furthermore, he was responsible for thoroughly reorganising the Holy See’s tribunals, offices and congregations.
The name of Pius X is associated with purging the Church of Modernism. After issuing a decree in 1907 against certain writers holding what was called “modern” ideas on philosophy and theology, in 1908, an encyclical letter was published, which was a blanket condemnation of “modernism” in all its manifestations.“The name of Pius X is associated with purging the Church of Modernism. After issuing a decree in 1907 against certain writers holding what was called “modern” ideas on philosophy and theology, in 1908, an encyclical letter was published, which was a blanket condemnation of “modernism” in all its manifestations.
Ever concerned with the poor and oppressed, he had foretold the coming of war and grieved for his people.
In 1914, soon after the outbreak of the first world war, Pius X died. He was canonised in 1954 by Pope Pius XII. The first canonised Pope since Pius V in 1672. His feast falls on 21 August.
Baron von Pastor, a distinguished historian of earlier Popes, has written of Pope Pius X: “He was one of those chosen few men whose personality is irresistible. Everyone was moved by his simplicity and his angelic kindness. Yet it was something more that carried him into all hearts: and that something is best defined by saying that all who were ever admitted to his presence had a deep conviction of being face to face with a saint. And the more one knows about him, the stronger this conviction becomes.”