Pope Saint Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, (2 June 1835 - 20 August 1914) was Pope from 1903 to 1914, succeeding Pope Leo XIII. He was the first pope since the Counter-Reformation Pope St. Pius V to be canonized.
Sarto was born in Riese, Province of Treviso, in the Veneto. His parents were Giovanni Battista Sarto, a postman, and Margarita. He was ordained a priest in 1858, and as a young priest studied both Saint Thomas and Canon Law. In 1875 he was made a canon of the cathedral of Treviso, and, in 1878 vicar-capitular. On 10 November 1884, he was raised to the episcopate as Bishop of Mantua, and in June, 1893 Sarto was named a cardinal in a secret consistory. In 1896 he was publicly named as the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice. However, a political difficulty arose over his assumption of this office, as the Royal Italian Government claimed the right of nomination, based on an alleged privilege previously exercised by the Emperor of Austria. The anticlericalism of the Italian Court and the resentment felt by the Roman Curia over the transfer of Rome from papal rule in 1870 complicated relationships. Eventually, the Italian state backed down and Cardinal Sarto was able to assume his post.
Following the death of the much loved and very elderly Pope Leo XIII, Sarto was elected to the See of Peter on 4 August 1903 by a vote of 55 out of a possible 60 votes in the Papal Conclave. See Papal conclave, 1903
It was at this Conclave that the Austrian veto was used for the last time—against Cardinal Mariano Rampolla (Cardinal Secretary of State). Pius X subsequently abolished the veto.
Pius' coronation, using the traditional Papal Tiara, took place on the following Sunday, 9 August 1903.
His pontificate was noted for its conservative agenda. He condemned what he termed 'modernists' and 'relativists' who he believed endangered the Catholic faith (see for example his Anti-Modernist oath). Modernism he called the "synthesis of all heresies". It was a theological trend which tried to assimilate modern philosophers like Kant into church theology, in much the same way Aristotlean philosophy was united with theology by the scholastics. "Modernists" justified this change with the idea that all beliefs of the church have evolved throughout its history and must continue to evolve. It was primarily because Pius X was thought to have defended the souls of many people who would have perished due to the supposed modernist heresies, that he was declared a saint.
Pius provoked a crisis for Catholicism in France when he condemned the French president for visiting Victor Emmanuel III, the King of Italy, to whom the Church had been hostile since the Italian seizure of the Papal States in 1870. Among the results of the clash were the complete separation of church and state in France and the expulsion of the Jesuits.
Pius X called for the codification of Canon law, which up until that time consisted mostly of legal precedents. He also called for daily communion, as well as administering communion to children as soon as they had reached the age of reason.
Pius X heavily promoted the use of Gregorian chant in the Catholic liturgy.
He published 16 encyclicals among them Vehementer nos on February 11, 1906.
Pius strove hard to avoid the outbreak of World War I, and his death in 1914 was attributed, in part, to his horror at the impending war. Pius X was canonised by Pope Pius XII in 1954.
Pius X died almost simultaneously with the 'Black Pope,' the head of the order of Jesuits, Father Francesco Zavier Wernz . (See The Times for 20 August 1914.)
The Society of St. Pius X is an organization that split off the Roman Catholic Church, because the Church, in its opinion, has gone astray from its essential values; its name refers to Pius X's traditionalism.
of Pope Pius X in 1954
The incorrupt body of Pope Pius X, which though not embalmed in 1914 had not decayed, was displayed in a glass coffin in St. Peter's Basilica for the ceremony
Last updated: 08-04-2005 17:20:02