Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pope St Pius X

Saint Pius X was born on June 2, 1835, his name being Giuseppe Sarto, He was the first Pope since Pope Pius V to be canonized. He was one of 11 children, and though poor, his parents valued education, and Giuseppe walked 3 miles to school each day. Pius X was a fervent reformer of Church practices and regulations such as the Canon Law, his most important reform, which for the first time codified Church law in a central fashion. He was a pastoral pope, encouraging personal piety and a life-style reflecting Christian values.
Pope Pius X was a Marian Pope, because for him there is no safer or more direct road than Mary. She is uniting all mankind in Christ. He was the only Pope in the 20th century with extensive pastoral experience at the Parish level and pastoral concerns permeated his papacy. The Catechism of Pope Pius X is short and direct. His teachings were considered equally down to earth and practical. He favored the use of modern language in Catechesis. Frequent communion was a lasting innovation of Pius X, because before his time, people could only receive communion once a month and, on special occasions, on Sunday. He was also instrumental in introducing the custom of First Holy Communion for young children.
Like his predecessor, Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) Pius opposed modernism, a school of thought, which claimed that Catholic dogma itself should be modernized and blended with 19th Century philosophies.

Pope Pius X visiting a girls school in Rome
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 favors for his family, his brother remained a postal clerk, his favorite 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. AI was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor." Considered a holy person by many, public veneration of Pope Pius X began soon after his death. He died August 20, 1914 and was canonized in 1954, after his body was exhumed and displayed under a side-altar where priests can celebrate Mass, many of which I was lucky to serve as an altar boy in 1966.

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