See All Things in Christ: Encyclicals and Selected Documents of Saint Pius X (ed. by V. A. Yzermans, 1954); biographies by M. G. Dal-Gal (tr. 1954), L. von Matt and N. Vian (tr. 1955, repr. 1963), and J. O. Smit (tr. 1965).
Pope Pius was a Marian Pope, whose encyclical Ad Diem Illum expresses his desire to renew all things in Christ, which he had defined as his motto in his first encyclical. Pius believed that there is no surer or more direct road than by Mary to achieve this goal. Pius X was the only Pope in the 20th century with extensive pastoral experience at the parish level, and pastoral concerns permeated his papacy; he favoured the use of the vernacular in catechesis. Frequent communion was a lasting innovation of his papacy. Pius X had similar problems as did Pope Pius IX, in that he is not considered to have been a great diplomat. His direct style and condemnations did not gain him much support in the aristocratic societies of pre-World War One in Europe.
His immediate predecessor had actively promoted a synthesis between the Catholic Church and secular culture; faith and science; and divine revelation and reason. Pius X defended the Catholic faith against popular 19th century views such as indifferentism and relativism which his predecessors had warned against as well He followed the example of Leo XIII by promoting Thomas Aquinas and Thomism as the only theology to be taught in Catholic institutions. Pius opposed modernism, a theological school of thought, which claimed that Catholic dogma itself should be modernized and blended with nineenth century philosophies. He viewed modernism as a import of secular errors affecting three areas of Roman Catholic belief: theology, philosophy and dogma.
Personally, Pius combined within himself a strong sense of compassion, benevolence, poverty, but also stubbornness, and a certain stiffness. He wanted to be pastor and was the only pope in the 20th century who gave Sunday sermons every week. His charity was extraordinary, filling the Vatican with refugees from the 1908 Messina quake, long before the Italian government began to act on its own. He rejected any kind of favours for his family, his brother remained a postal clerk, his favourite nephew stayed on as village priest, and his three sisters lived together close to poverty in Rome. He often referred to his own humble origins, taking up the causes of poor people. I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor. Considered a holy person by many , public veneration of Pope Pius began soon after his death. Numerous petitions resulted in an early process of beatification.
Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born in Riese, province of Treviso (Veneto), 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. Though poor, his parents valued education, and Giuseppe walked 6 kilometers to school each day.
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" .
On September 18, 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. 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 Treviso 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 Treviso 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 1880.
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. The number of vacant sees soon grew to thirty. Sarto was finally permitted to assume the position of Patriarch in 1894.
As Cardinal and Patriarch, Sarto steered clear of political involvement, allocating his time for social works and strengthening parochial banks. 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, Leo XIII died, and at the end of that month the conclave convened to elect his successor. According to historians, the favorite was the late Pope'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 (jus exclusivae) against Rampolla's nomination, by Polish Cardinal Jan Puzyna from Cracow in the name of Emperor Franz Joseph (1848–1916) 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. Thus, on 4 August 1903, Cardinal Sarto was elected to the 257th pontificate. 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, Sarto took as his papal name Pius X, out of respect for his recent predecessors of the same name, particularly Pope Pius IX (1846–78), who had fought against theological liberals and for papal supremacy. Pius X's traditional coronation took place on the following Sunday, 9 August 1903.
She did not conceive the Eternal Son of God merely that He might be made man taking His human nature from her, but also, by giving him her human nature, that He might be the Redeemer of men. Mary, carrying the Savior within her, also carried all those whose life was contained in the life of the Savior. Therefore all the faithful united to Christ, are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones from the womb of Mary like a body united to its head. Though a spiritual and mystical fashion, all are children of Mary, and she is their Mother. Mother, spiritually, but truly Mother of the members of Christ.(S. Aug. L. de S. Virginitate, c. 6).
Within three months of his coronation, Pius X published his motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini (possibly co-written by his friend Lorenzo Perosi). Classical and Baroque compositions had long been favoured over Gregorian chant in ecclesiastical music. The Pope 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 X upgraded to "Perpetual Director." The Pope's choice of Dom Joseph Pothier to supervise the new editions of chant led to the official adoption of the Solesmes edition of Gregorian chant.
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 older practice of infant communion. In conjunction, he also emphasized frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Penance in order that Holy Communion would be received 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.
Modernism and relativism, in terms of their 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 Pius V), an anti-Modernist network of informants.
Pius X's aggressive stance against modernism caused some disruption within the Church. Although only about forty clerics refused to take the oath, Catholic scholarship with modernistic tendencies was substantially discouraged. Theologians who wished to pursue lines of inquiry in line with secularism, modernism, or relativism had to stop, or face conflict with the papacy, and possibly even excommunication.Catechism for uniform use throughout the whole world; it was used in the ecclesiastical province of Rome and for some years in other parts of Italy; it was not, however, prescribed for use throughout the universal church. The characteristics of Pius X were "simplicity of exposition and depth of content. Also because of this, St. Pius X's catechism might have friends in the future.
The Catechism of Saint Pius X , issued first in 1908, i.e. at the beginning of the twentieth century, in Italian (Catechismo della dottrina Cristiana, Pubblicato per Ordine del Sommo Pontifice San Pio X), dealt in less than 50 pages with all relevant questions of faith and morality in a simple but comprehensive form, which is one reason for its continued popularity, according to Joseph Ratzinger. An English translation runs to more than 115 pages.
Asked in 2003, whether the almost 100-year-old Catechism of Saint Pius X was still valid, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: "The faith as such is always the same. Hence the Catechism of Saint Pius X always preserves its value. Whereas ways of transmitting the contents of the faith can change instead. And hence one may wonder whether the Catechism of Saint Pius X can in that sense still be considered valid today.
Pius X reversed the accommodating approach of Leo XIII towards secular governments, appointing Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val as Secretary of State. When the President of France Émile Loubet visited Italian monarch Victor Emmanuel III (1900–46), 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 separated church and state, and 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 and broke off diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
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. His actions and statements against international relations with Italy angered the secular powers of these countries, as well as a few others, like England and Russia.
In 1908 the papal decree Ne Temere came into effect which complicated mixed marriages. Marriages not performed by a Roman Catholic priest were declared legal but religiously invalid, worrying some Protestants that the Church would counsel separation for couples married in a Protestant church or by civil service. Priests were given discretion to refuse to perform mixed marriages or lay conditions upon them, commonly including a requirement that the children be raised Roman Catholic. The decree proved particularly divisive in Ireland, which has a large Protestant minority, and contributed indirectly to the subsequent political conflict there.
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.
Pius X partially lifted decrees forbidding Italian Catholics from voting; however, he never recognized Italy.
Under Pope Pius X (1903–1914), the traditionally difficult situation of Polish Catholics in Russia did not improve. Although Tsar Nicolas issued a decree February 22, 1903, promising religious freedom for the Catholic Church, and, in 1905, promulgated a constitution, which included religious freedom, the Russian Orthodox Church felt threatened and insisted on stiff interpretations. Papal degrees were not permitted and contacts with the Vatican remained outlawed. A religious movement the Mariavites, supported and financed by Russia, began to gain ground among the Polish faithful, although the Pope had condemned it in 1907. In his encyclical Tribus Circiter Pope Pius wrote to the episcopate, warning against national radicals and asks for peace and order. In 1907 he signed an agreement, which prescribes mandatory Russian history and literature courses in Catholic seminaries in Polish Russia, in exchange for greater rights for the faithful.
Afterwards, he felt betrayed by the Russians who did not ease the conditions of Polish faithful: At his last public reception of the Diplomatic Corps, Pope Pius X publicly told the Russian ambassador Nelidoff,
As a surprised Nelodoff disagreed, the Pope rose from his throne and asked the ambassador to leave the room.
Pius X beatified ten individuals and canonized four. Those beatified during his pontificate, were: Blessed Marie Genevieve Meunier (1906), Blessed Rose Chretien (1906), Saint Valentin Faustino Berri Ochoa (1906), Blessed Clarus (1907), Blessed Zdislava 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 him were Saint Alexander Sauli (1904), Saint Gerard Majella (1904), Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer (1909), and Saint Joseph Oriol (1909).
Pius X published sixteen encyclicals; among them was Vehementer nos on February 11, 1906, which condemned the 1905 French law on the separation of the State and the Church. Pius X also confirmed the existence of Limbo in Roman Catholic theology in his 1905 Catechism, saying that the unbaptized "do not have the joy of God but neither do they suffer... they do not deserve Paradise, but neither do they deserve Hell or Purgatory.
In the Prophecy of St. Malachy, the collection of 112 prophecies about the Popes, Pius X appears as Ignis Ardens or "Burning Fire."
On November 23, 1903, Pius X issued a papal directive, a Motu Proprio, that banned women from singing in church choirs.
In 1913 Pius X suffered a heart attack, and subsequently lived in the shadow of poor health. In 1914, the Pope fell ill on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (15 August), an illness from which he would not recover. His condition was worsened by the events leading to the outbreak of World War I (1914–18), which reportedly sent the 79 year-old Pope into a state of horror and melancholy. He died on 20 August, 1914, only a few hours after the death of Jesuit leader 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 physicians had been in the habit of removing organs to aid the embalming process. Pius X expressly prohibited this, however, and none of his successors have allowed the practice to be reinstituted.
Although Pius X's canonization 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, Pope Pius XII (1939–58) delivered a tribute to Pius X at Castel Gandolfo. On 12 February 1943, a further development of Pius X's cause was achieved, when he was declared to have displayed heroic virtues, gaining therefore the title "Venerable".
On 19 May 1944, 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 remarkably well preserved, despite the fact that he had died 30 years before and had made wishes not to be embalmed. According to Jerome Dai-Gal, "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, 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-Françoise 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 statue of Pius X and was 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.
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. 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, 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 Sr. 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 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 Holy Communion. In addition to being celebrated as the "Pope of the Blessed Sacrament," St. Pius X is also the patron saint of emigrants from Treviso. He is honored in numerous parishes in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Canada, and the United States.
Pius X's feast day was assigned in 1955 to 3 September, to be celebrated as a Double. It remained thus for 15 years. In the 1960 calendar (incorporated in the 1962 Roman Missal of Pope John XXIII, whose continued use as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is authorized under the conditions indicated in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum) the rank was changed to Third-Class Feast. The rank in the General Roman Calendar since 1969 is that of Memorial and the feast day is obligatorily celebrated on 21 August, closer to the day of his death (20 August, impeded by the feast day of St Bernard).
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 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 Pope Pius X is the one for which he is best remembered: instaurare omnia in Christo (Latin for "To restore all things in Christ"). These words were the last he spoke before he died.