Tag Archives: Pope St Pius X

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