Pope Pius X

(Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto)


Pope Pius X was a compassionate and conservative leader, protecting the Church from modern philosophies while advocating care for the poor and devotion to Mary. Several of his decisions were seen as controversial, but he still impressed the world with his charity and was canonized for his many efforts at reform and increased religious dedication during his reign as Pope.

The young Italian, born Giuseppe Sarto, joined the priesthood at the age of 23, and he was elected Bishop of Treviso several years later. In 1893 he was made a cardinal in a secret consistory, but this caused a problem when, only three days later, he was named Patriarch of Venice. Arguments arose over the appointment, not helped by the strained relationship between the Italian government and the Vatican since the annexation of the Papal States some years earlier. Sarto was finally allowed to assume the position a year after his appointment, though he made sure to stay away from political matters. Pope Leo XIII passed away in 1903, and Sarto was elected in his stead. He took the name Pius X, out of respect for his predecessors of the same name, particularly Pius IX.

As pope, Pius was conservative in his theology and reformative in his practices. He published an encyclical titled Ad Diem Illum, in which he voiced his desire to renew all things in Christ through the Virgin Mary. He insisted on frequent communion, an innovation of his papacy that continues to this day. He sheltered the Catholic Church from schools of thought such as relativism and modernism, choosing to follow the teachings of Thomas Aquinas rather than submit to those who claimed that Catholic dogma should be updated and blended with emerging philosophies (this issue was perhaps the most controversial during his time as Pope). He was considered by some to be too curt and outspoken, but his astounding charity overruled any negative opinions. After the 1908 earthquake in Italy, he was the first to open his doors to the newly homeless, filling the Vatican with refugees long before the Italian government responded to the crisis. Public veneration of Pius X began soon after his death in 1914, and he was officially canonized in 1954, the first Pope to be beatified since Pius V.

Key events during the life of Pius X:

Ordained a priest and became chaplain at Tombolo
Elected Bishop of Treviso
Made a cardinal in a secret meeting
Named Patriarch of Venice, after some discussion he was allowed to assume the role a year later
Succeeded Leo XIII as Pope
Published his encyclical Ad Deim Illum
Died following a heart attack the previous year
A monument was erected in his name in St. Peter's Basilica
The Pope's body was removed from its coffin and found be be remarkably well-preserved
Body was placed in a glass case under the altar of the chapel of the Presentation

Book Links
Life of Pius X  by  F. A. Forbes

Image Links

Pope Pius X.
 in  Life of Pius X

Monsignor Sart, Bishop of Mantua
 in  Life of Pius X

Cardinal Sarto, Patriarch of Venice
 in  Life of Pius X

In the Vatican Gardens
 in  Life of Pius X

In the Sedia Gestatoria
 in  Life of Pius X

The Peace of Christ
 in  Life of Pius X

His Holiness Pope Pius X
 in History of the Church: Later Modern Times

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