Tag Archives: Pope St Pius X

The Miraculous Image of Our Lady with the Bowed head

Our Lady of the Bowed Head
Our Lady of the Bowed Head                             pineterest.com

By Larry Peterson

“The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God.” St. John Damascene

Pictures and statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been carved, chiseled, painted, or made in some way by many people from all over the world since the beginnings of the Catholic church. The numbers are too many to count.  One of these is a picture of the Blessed Mother that was originally found in a pile of trash. It is called Our Lady of the Bowed Head.

The story of the picture begins in Sicily in 1610. A Carmelite monk, by the name of Dominic of Jesus and Mary, was charged with inspecting an old, broken-down house to see if it might be suitable to convert into a monastery. As he walked around the grounds, he passed a pile of trash. Giving the debris a cursory look, Friar Dominic kept on walking. Suddenly he stopped. Something or someone was telling him to go back and look closer at the trash.

He heeded the prompt and returned to the garbage pile. He grabbed a broken stick and began separating the mounds of junk. When he saw the edge of a picture frame, he paused. He carefully pushed away the debris that surrounded what he now realized was a painting. Rescuing the artwork from its impending fate, he pulled it out and discovered it was an old oil painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He could not believe someone had thrown such a beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother in the garbage. Friar Dominic wrote that the first thing he did was to apologize to Mary. He said, “I am sorry, dear Mother, that someone has treated thy image in such a terrible manner. I will take it back to the monastery with me and fix it up, and I will give thee the homage which thou so rightly deserve.”

Dominic did indeed, take it back to the monastery, and restore it as best he could. He hung the picture in his cell and every day gave Mary the attention, reverence, and devotion that was due her. He prayed to Our Lady with an increased exuberance asking her for the graces to please Jesus in all things.

One day when Dominic was cleaning his cell, the sunlight happened to land on the picture. Dominic thought there was dust on the painting and went over to clean it. The humble friar felt that he had been remiss in his duties and, raising his eyes to heaven,  apologized profusely to Our Lady for having neglected her painting. He even apologized for using the old rag he had.

As he proceeded to dust the picture, Our Lady’s face began to move, and she smiled at the priest. Dominic was not sure what was happening and then Our Lady spoke to him saying, “Fear not, my son, for your request is granted! Your prayer will be answered and will be part of the reward, which you will receive for the love that you have for my Son Jesus and myself.”

She proceeded to tell him that she would grant him any favor he wanted. He asked for Her to help his friend be released from Purgatory. She told him,  Dominic, my son, I will deliver this soul from Purgatory if you will make many sacrifices and will have many Masses offered for this soul.” Then the apparition of Mary faded away.

The apparition of Our Lady vanished, and Friar Dominic remembered the words of the Holy Virgin when she promised to answer the prayers of all who would honor and pray to her before the miraculous image. He knew he had to share it with everyone and the painting was placed in the Oratory of St. Charles located next to the Church of Santa Maria de la Scale.

The painting remained in the Church of Santa Maria de la Scale until Dominic’s death in 1630. Then it was loaned to the Duke of Bavaria, Maximilian. Later it was loaned to Emperor Ferdinand II and then returned to the Carmelite Fathers after Ferdinand’s death in 1655. In 1901 a new church was built in Vienna and the image was given a place of honor there.

Today it is in the monastery Church of Vienna Dobling. September 27, 1931, it was solemnly crowned by Pope Pius XI – the 300th anniversary of its arrival in Vienna.

Fr. Dominic was declared Venerable by St. Pius X in 1907.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Pope St. Pius X: His motto was “Restore all things in Christ” and he did his best to do just that.

Pope St. Pius X               commons.wikimedia.org

By Larry Peterson

The two most beloved Popes of the twentieth century lived during the beginning and at the end of that century. We all know of Pope St. John Paul II who guided the Church from 1978 into the new millennium. However, not as many people know about the man who became pope during the beginning of the century. His name was Pope St. Pius X who was elected in 1903.  He went on to be known as the Great Reformer who called the modernism of the day, “the synthesis of all heresies.”

He only reigned as pope for eleven years, but during his pontificate, he initiated reforms in sacred music, biblical studies, seminary life, Canon Law, and the Holy Eucharist making it available for all starting at the age of seven. Before that, the minimum age was twelve.

Giuseppe Melchiore Sarto was the oldest of eight surviving children of Giovanni Battista Sarto and Margarita Sanson. He was born June 2, 1835, in the Lombardy-Venetian area of Italy. The family had little because Giovanni supported them by working for the government as the local postman. The pay was steady, but it was barely enough to live on.

While still a pre-teen, Giuseppe studied Latin with his village priest. In time he received his Confirmation and Communion (at the time First Communion could not be received until the age of 12). The priest recognized the keen mind Giuseppe had been blessed with, and before long, the boy was in the upscale secondary school known as Castelfranco Veneto.

Throughout his four years at the school, he always held the number one rank in his class. He developed a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin, and when he announced he was considering becoming a priest, no one was surprised.

The Sarto family were in no position to finance their son’s seminary studies when the hand of providence reached in, and Giuseppe found himself with a scholarship to the Seminary of Padua, considered among the best in all of Italy. He was ordained to the priesthood on September 18, 1858, by the Bishop of Treviso, Monsignor Zinelli.

His priestly career began as a parish priest, then he became a pastor, then a canon, moved on to be the spiritual director at the seminary, then diocesan chancellor.  Pope Leo XIII appointed him Bishop of Mantua on November 6, 1884. Lastly, on June 12, 1893, Bishop Sarto was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Leo. All the positions he had held leading up to this point had prepared him well for a future he never could have imagined.

Pope Leo XIII, after serving as Pontiff for 25 years, passed away on July 20, 1903. He had issued eleven papal encyclicals on the Rosary and earned the title, The Rosary Pope. He also wrote the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and the famous encyclical, Rerum Novarum (Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor). His successor would have a tough act to follow. On August 4, 1903,  Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto was elected to the Papacy. He became Pope Pius X.

Pope Pius X was deeply concerned at the cultural Modernism infecting the church and society. He decided it was essential to focus on apostolic problems and to defend the Catholic Church against all attacks which had become many. There was much backlash from the Modernists, the intellectual elites who were trying to reinterpret Catholic teaching. However, Pope Pius was determined to withstand the onslaught.

Modernism was ambiguous because it had no particular definition. People had begun to reject the doctrinal and moral teachings of the church and embrace what felt good for themselves. In 1907, the Holy Father issued the encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis (Feeding the Lord’s Flock).

He wrote this because he recognized how Modernism rejected the morals and doctrines of the church. He wanted Catholics the world over to know that doctrine is unchanging and does not evolve and not to be fooled by the ever-changing culture. He wrote:

“It is an error to believe that Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and to all men, but rather that He inaugurated a religious movement adapted, or to be adapted, to different times and different places.”

Pope Pius had a deep love for the Holy Eucharist and wanted it to have a daily impact on Catholics everywhere. At the time people only received about three or four times a year. He wrote a decree, Sacra Tridentina Synodus in 1905 which promoted Holy Communion on a daily basis. He said Communion was not a reward for good behavior but, as the Council of Trent noted, “it is“the antidote whereby we may be freed from daily faults and be preserved from mortal sins.”   

This was followed by Quam Singulari in 1910. Inspired by a three-year-old girl named Nellie Organ aka “Little Nellie of Holy God,” he lowered the age for receiving First Holy Communion to seven. That is still the way it is today.

Of course, we have the miracles that were attributed to this holy man. There were the miracles reported after Pope Pius’ passing but let us just focus on ones that occurred while he was still alive:

  • During a papal audience, Pius X was holding a paralyzed child. Suddenly the child started squirming and wiggling and then broke free from the Pontiff’s arms and began running around. The child was cured, and it was spontaneous and inexplicable.
  • Another time the Holy father received a letter from a couple, he knew from when he was Bishop of Mantua. Their two-year-old child was dying from meningitis, and they asked the pope to pray for him. Two days later, the child was cured.

Much more can be written about Pope St. Pius X. His holiness and contributions to the welfare of the Church entrusted to him is everlasting. When his body was exhumed in 1944, it was perfectly intact. As per his request, it had never been embalmed.

Pope St. Pius X, we ask for your prayers and protection as we travel forward through the 21st century.

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Saint Alice: The Patroness of the Blind and Paralyzed entered the Cistercian Order at the age of Seven

Photo Credit: wiki/Alice_of_Schaerbeek#/media/File:Schaerbeek_Eglise_Sainte-Alice_010.jpg

By Larry Peterson

Sometimes we read or hear stories about certain saints that make us simply “wonder” how can this be? For example here are two;

  • Her name was Nellie Organ but she was called Little Nellie of Holy God. This innocent child understood the Real Presence at the age of two. She inspired Pope St. Pius X to lower the reception of First Holy Communion from twelve to seven.
  • Then we have Marthe Robin, the French Stigmatic and Mystic, who defied all logic and human knowledge by surviving on nothing but the reception of the Holy Eucharist for 51 years.

These two people are from our own time. Marthe Robin died in 1981 after over 100, 000 people had visited her. Little Nellie was validated by a pope in 1907, a pope who became a saint, Pius X. Everything is witnessed and documented yet many refuse to believe. Why is that? It is all about the great gift of Faith.

Here is another for the Christmas season. Her feast day was on December 16, but it was moved to June 15. She was only a seven-year-old child when she entered the Cistercian Order. Her name was simply, Alice.

Alice was born in 1204 in a place called Schaerbeek, near Brussels, which is now in Belgium.  Surnames were often the names of places a person came from, i.e., Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus. Alice was known as Alice of  Schaerbeek.

Alice seemed to be a healthy child but became increasingly frail and weak. At the age of seven, she was sent to the Cistercian La Cambre Abbey in the hopes of her regaining some of her strength.

She was a beautiful girl and had a brilliant mind. Most importantly, she had a great love of God and wanted to do everything she could to please him. Soon after arriving at the monastery she became a laysister (her exact age at this time is unknown; she was probably a teenager), and she would remain there for the rest of her life.

When Alice was about twenty years old, she developed leprosy (medical name is Hansen’s Disease) and was isolated in a small hut. Her illness caused her chronic, ongoing, and intense suffering.  A girl of great faith, she told Jesus that she accepted her sufferings readily and wanted to use them to help the souls in Purgatory.

It was not long after the onset of her disease that she became paralyzed. She was suddenly unable to walk but her challenges kept mounting; soon after the paralysis set in she lost her sight and became blind.

Alice amazed everyone with her demeanor and attitude. That was because she received such joy and consolation from receiving the Holy Eucharist. She was not allowed to sip from the chalice because of fear of contaminating others, but that was not a problem. It was reported that Jesus appeared to her and told her that He was present in either the bread or the wine and that she should not worry because He was with her.

Sister Alice died in 1250, at the age of 46. She had lived blind, paralyzed, and in intense pain for more than twenty-five years. During that time she remained joyful because Jesus was with her and came to her in the Holy Eucharist. Her powerful faith is an example for us all.

On July 1, 1702, Pope Clement XI granted the monks of the congregation permission to honor the Cultus of Alice. In 1907 Pope Pius X confirmed her status as a canonized saint.

St. Alice is the patroness of the blind and the paralyzed.

Saint Alice’s theology of suffering was that of St Paul: “Death is at work in us, but life in you”  (2 Cor 4:12)

St. Alice, please pray for us.

©Larry Peterson 2019