St Pius X
Pope Pius X is perhaps best remembered for his
encouragement of the frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children.
of 10 children in a poor Italian family, Joseph Sarto became Pius X at 68, one of the 20th century´s
Ever mindful of his humble origin, he stated, "I was born poor, I lived
poor, I will die poor." He was embarrassed by some of the pomp of the papal court. "Look how they
have dressed me up," he said in tears to an old friend. To another, "It is a penance to be forced to
accept all these practices. They lead me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when he was seized
Interested in politics, he encouraged Italian Catholics to become more
politically involved. One of his first papal acts was to end the supposed right of governments to
interfere by veto in papal elections—a practice that reduced the freedom of the conclave which had
In 1905, when France renounced its agreement with the Holy See and threatened
confiscation of Church property if governmental control of Church affairs were not granted, Pius X
courageously rejected the demand.
While he did not author a famous social encyclical as his
predecessor had done, he denounced the ill treatment of indigenous peoples on the
plantations of Peru, sent a relief commission to Messina after an earthquake and sheltered refugees
at his own expense.
On the 11th anniversary of his election as pope, Europe was plunged into
World War I. Pius had foreseen it, but it killed him. "This is the last affliction the Lord will
visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge." He
died a few weeks after the war began. He was canonized in 1954.
Describing Pius X, a historian wrote
that he was "a man of God who knew the unhappiness of the world and the hardships of life, and in
the greatness of his heart wanted to comfort everyone."
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