Saturday, 22 August 2009
POPE SAINT PIUS X
Pope Pius X was born Giuseppe Sarto in the village of Riese in the province of Treviso near Venice, one of eight children in a poor family. His father was a cobbler by trade, and also served as the village postmaster.
He was ordained a priest at the cathedral in Castelfranco in 1858. In 1884, Father Sarto was appointed bishop of Mantua by Pope Leo XIII. In 1893, Giuseppe Sarto was appointed a Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice.
Cardinal Sarto was elected Pope and chose the name Pius X. In his short reign as pope (1903-1914), Pius X had an impact on the lives of ordinary Catholics which was greater than that of almost all of his predecessors.
Pius X has been called the Pope of the Eucharist, and he more than any other person was responsible for changing the eucharistic practices of Catholics. Issued decrees on early Communion (age 7 instead of 12 or 14 as previously). Destroyed the last vestiges of Jansenism by advocating frequent and even daily Communion. Reformed the liturgy, promoted clear and simple homilies, and brought Gregorian chant back to services. Revised the Breviary, and teaching of the Catechism. Fought Modernism, which he denounced as “the summation of all heresies“. Reorganized the Roman curia, and the other administrative elements of the Church. Worked against the modern antagonism of the state against the Church. Initiated the codification of canon law. Promoting Bible reading by all the faithful. Supported foreign missions.
Pius X through his pontificate sought to strengthen and guard the church against her enemies, he championed a traditional Catholic teaching and everywhere sought to diminish the influence of the secular world.
Pius X was deeply distressed by the outbreak of World War I in 1914. About a month after the war started the Pope came down with influenza. Unable to fight the infection, he died peacefully on August 20, 1914. In his will he wrote: “I was born poor, I lived poor, I die poor.”
He was beatified on June 3, 1951, and canonized on May 29, 1954.