Pope St Pius X was a pastor – a shepherd – more than anything else. Born to fairly poor parents, he was always giving away his possessions after he became Pope in 1903. He loved God, Our Lady, the poor and all souls.
This clip of Fr Paul Scalia, son of the late Justice Scalia, at about 41:22-43:00 tells us something of the great love he had for souls, and the zeal he had in trying to help them get to heaven.
St Pius X was born, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, on 2 June 1835, in Riese, Italy, and was called by the nickname of Beppo. He reigned as Pope from August 1903 to his death on 20 August in 1914 and his motto was Instaurare Omnia in Christo (restore all things in Christ). He was canonized in 1954.
From Wikipedia: “Pius X is known for vigorously opposing modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox theology. His most important reform was to order the codification of the first Code of Canon Law, which collected the laws of the Church into one volume for the first time. He was also considered a pastoral pope, in the sense of encouraging personal holiness, piety and a daily lifestyle reflecting deep Christian values.”
St Pius X promoted the regular reception of Holy Communion and the lowering of the age at which children could receive, saying, "Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven." Correspondingly, he encouraged frequent confession, so that people would receive Holy Communion in a state of grace. He encouraged the use of Gregorian chant in the liturgy, which had fallen out of fashion. He encouraged the laity to read scripture more. I believe he said, “Nothing would please us more than to see our beloved children form the habit of reading the Gospels – not merely from time to time, but every day.”
Again from wikipedia: “Pius X's attitude toward the Modernists was uncompromising. Speaking of those who counseled compassion to the "culprits" he said: "They want them to be treated with oil, soap and caresses. But they should be beaten with fists. In a duel, you don't count or measure the blows, you strike as you can.””
He described modernism as “the synthesis of all heresies” and waged a battle against it, which sadly, only drove it underground. It really is about time I read his encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis ("Feeding the Lord's Flock") against modernism. From 1910 onwards, teachers, priests and bishops were required to take “The Oath Against Modernism.” This lasted until 1967, when it was rescinded by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Pope St Pius X, the Great War, and the loss of Religion
Pope Pius X was heartbroken at the prospect of The Great War. Apparently, a short time before his death, he said to his doctor, “I am offering my miserable life as a holocaust to prevent the massacre of so many of my children.”
“Pope St. Pius X, Giuseppe Melchior Sarto, stopped before the Lourdes grotto during his walk in the Vatican gardens in the spring of the year 1914. He turned to Monsignor Bressan, his confessor, and said, “I am sorry for the next Pope. I will not live to see it, but it is, alas, true that the religio depopulata is coming very soon. Religio depopulata.” The term “depopulated religion,” refers to the prophecy coming from the Irish Saint Malachy, and was to be applied to the reign of the successor on the Throne of St. Peter of Pius X himself. That St. Pius X could foresee the depopulation of Europe, especially in so far as that tragedy would affect the Catholic Church is truly one of the most salient features of the relationship between this pope and World War I (1914-1918). Many geo-political strategists and high-level observers could clearly envision some kind of altercation between two or more of the six Great Powers of Europe (i.e., Russia, Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Germany), no one foresaw the downfall of traditional Christian civilization, except for Pope St. Pius X. Even his own Secretary of State and intimate confidant, the Anglo-Spanish Cardinal Merry del Val, was at a loss to explain the Pope’s insistence that what he foresaw was not just war and blood, but the loss of the Common European Home; a loss which spelt travail for the Catholic Church and misery and loss for the preponderance of humanity.” (Source)
Just weeks after the start of the Great War, Pope St Pius X died, it is said, of a broken heart, with the names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph on his lips.
His will stated that he did not wish to be embalmed and when his body was exhumed in 1944, it was found to be well preserved.
Louise LaMotte is a friend from Light on Dark Water. Since she lived in Australia at the time we met online, I never thought we would meet in person. I was wrong. She has written here about St. Mary of the Cross and St. Damien of Molokai.
If you want to see all of the posts in this series, click HERE.