Giuseppe Sarto (Pius X) elected Pope
Pope Saint Pius X (Latin: Pius PP. X) (2 June 1835 – 20 August 1914), born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was the 258th Pope of the Catholic Church, serving from 1903 to 1914, succeeding Pope Leo XIII (1878–1903). He was the first pope since Pope Pius V (1566–72) to be canonised. Pius X codified Catholic doctrines to inspire conformity in the church and rejected modernism. His most important reform codified Church law in a central fashion. He was a pastoral pope, encouraging personal piety and a lifestyle reflecting Christian values. He was born in the pastoral town of Riese.
Pope Pius was a Marian Pope, whose encyclical Ad Diem Illum expresses his desire through Mary 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, like Pope Pius IX, was considered by some to be too outspoken or brusque. His direct style and condemnations did not gain him much support in the aristocratic societies of pre-World War I 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 principal philosophical method to be taught in Catholic institutions. Pius opposed the theological school of thought known as modernism, which claimed that Roman Catholic Dogma itself should be modernized and blended with nineteenth century philosophies. He viewed modernism as an 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, patriarch and cardinal of Venice from 1893, the son of an Italian village postman, was sixty-eight when he was chosen to succeed Pope Leo XIII. His choice of name was significant, aligning him with Pius IX, who had earlier denounced the idea that 'the Roman pontiff can and should reconcile and harmonise himself with progress, with liberalism and with recent civilisation.' A steadfast and outspoken conservative, who would help to revive Gregorian chant, the new pope was immediately confronted with rampant anticlericalism in France, where monasteries and nunneries were closed down, nuns were expelled from hospitals and a new battleship was provocatively named after Ernest Renan, author of a highly unorthodox biography of Jesus. Horns locked, the French government severed relations with the Vatican and in 1905 declared the separation of Church and State. The pope had no time for either socialists or Protestants, and in 1910 refused to receive President Theodore Roosevelt unless the American president cancelled his planned visit to a Methodist church in Rome. The president refused.
The central thread of Pius X's papacy was his opposition to Modernism, the drive to reinterpret Catholic teaching in the light of modern science, the theory of evolution and critical analysis of the Bible (the 'higher criticism'). The pope refused to have any truck with it and denounced Catholics who did. Alfred Loisy in France, for example, argued that Christianity should be considered an evolving, not a static faith. He was excommunicated and Modernism was condemned in an encyclical in 1907, which ordered that anyone tainted with Modernism or lending countenance to it, including 'those who show a love of novelty in history, archaeology or biblical exegesis', must be removed from any position in government or teaching.
The effect was to stifle Modernism in the Roman Catholic Church at the time when it was gaining ground among Protestants. The pope was inevitably accused of being hopelessly out of touch with the contemporary world, but many faithful Catholics found his attitude a source of reassurance and strength. He was also increasingly regarded as a saint as reports of healing miracles began to spread. Pius died soon after the outbreak of the First World War, aged seventy-nine. He was canonised in 1954.
He was ordained a priest at the age of 33 and worked for seventeen years as a parish priest before becoming Bishop of Mantua. In 1892, Joseph Sarto advanced to the metropolitan see of Venice with the honorary title of patriarch. On August 4, 1903, he was elected Pope of the Holy Catholic Church. Personally, he is one of my favorite popes in history.
Pope St. Pius X announced in his first encyclical that his papacy would seek to "to renew all things in Christ." He is primarily remembered for allowing children to receive First Holy Communion at a much younger age - the age of 7 instead of 12 or 14. He said, "Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven." Consequently, he encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion. He is also remembered for bringing Gregorian Chant back, encouraging daily Bible reading and establishing various Biblical institutes, reorganizing the Roman Curia, taking a stand against Modernism, which he called the "synthesis of all heresies." He also worked on the codification of Canon Law.