Pope St. Pius X – August 21

Pope Saint Pius X was an Italian named Giuseppe Sarto, who was born in 1835 near Treviso, Italy.  He was the second born of ten children of Giovanni Battista Sarto, the village postman, and Margherita Sanson.  He was baptized on June 3, 1835. Though poor, his parents valued education, and Giuseppe walked 4 miles to school each day.  As a poor boy, he was often teased for his meager lunches and shabby clothes, but he never complained about this to his teachers.  He eventually came to the attention of the parish priest because of his devotion to the Mass as an altar server. In 1850, at the age of 15, he was given a scholarship from Cardinal of Venice (who his parish priest had written) to attend the Seminary of Padua, where he finished his classical, philosophical, and theological studies with distinction.

On 18 September 1858, Sarto was ordained a priest, and was renowned for his holiness.  He later became bishop of Mantua in 1884, a Cardinal in 1893, and was elected Pope in August, 1903.   The pontificate of Pius X was noted for its conservative theology and reforms in liturgy and church law. In what became his motto, the Pope stated in 1903 that his papacy would undertake Instaurare Omnia in Christo, or “to restore all things in Christ.”  In the Basilica of St. Stephen, there is a mural high on the wall on the Camp Street side of Pope St. Pius X, surrounded by children.  Part of the reason for this is that as parish priest he developed a reputation as being very friendly with children. He always carried candy in his pockets for the street urchins in Mantua and Venice, and taught catechism to them. As Pope, his weekly catechism lessons in the courtyard of San Damaso in the Vatican included a special place for children.  Further, his decision to require the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) in every parish was motivated by a desire to reclaim children from religious ignorance.  But most importantly, in 1910 he issued the decree Quam singulari, which changed the age at which Holy Communion could be received by children from 12 to 7 years old.  And that’s probably the best reason that the children loved him!  Pope St. Pius X was beatified in 1951 and canonized in 1954, both times by Pope Pius XII.