Friday, June 2, 2017

Born Today June 2: Pope Pius X


Pope Pius X was born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, in Reise, Treviso in the then Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia--part of the Austrian Holy Roman Empire [now Riese Pio X, Veneto, Italy, named after the pontiff].  He was the second of ten children born into a rather poor family whose father was the village postman.  The nearest school to his place of residence was nearly 4 miles away, however he walked the distance to and fro every day.  He also studied Latin with the village priest--he had taken this up at a young age.  He was finally sent away to the gymnasium located in Castelfranco Veneto to further his studies.  In 1850 he was given a tonsure (a sacred hair cut) by the Bishop of Treviso and was given a scholarship to study at the Seminary in Padua.  He finished his wide ranging studies with distinction.  He was ordained as a priest on the 18th of September in 1858.  He became the chaplain at Tombolo following his ordination.  In 1867 he was named archpriest of Salzano.  He was popular there; he had managed to expand the hospital and retore the broken down and aged church through his own funding.  He did not shrink from the sick during a cholera outbreak in northern Italy in the early 1870's.  He was then named canon of the cathedral and chancellor of Treviso, while at the same time holding the position of rector of the Treviso seminary--which he turned into a public education possibility. In 1879, following the death of the Bishop of Treviso in 1878, he was elected to fill the temporary duties left vacant in the office until a new Bishop could be named.  He then returned to his teaching at the seminary.  On the 10th of November, he was appointed bishop of Mantua; and was consecrated 6 days later in Rome by Lucido Cardinal Parocchi.  In 1891 he was appointed to the position of assistant at the pontifical throne--an honorary position.  He required a papal dispensation from then Pope Leo XIII, as he lacked a doctorate.  On the 12th of June 1893, Leo XIII made him a cardinal, becoming Cardinal-Priest of San Bernardo alle Terme.  This was done in an open public ceremony and a fair amount of pomp and circumstance.  Three days later, however, the Pope also privately named him Patriarch of Venice.  This was publicized two days later.  This caused a bit of stir, as the nation of Italy was by then in flux away from the Holy Roman Empire, of which the Roman Curia sided with at the time--so political uncertainty entered into the act.  However, after many such seats became so numerously vacant, Sarto was allowed to assume the position.  In the position he found it expedient and wise to avoid politics, preferring to work on strengthening parochial banks and concentrate on social good works.  When Leo died in 1903, the conclaves that followed was anything but smooth--but eventually Sarto was voted in and he eventually accepted becoming Pope Pius X.  In doing so, he become the last pontiff not to have gained a doctorate.  In many ways, his papacy was the opposite of his predecessor--he has been considered and called "anti-modern" and undid many of the teaching put in place by Leo.  As usual, for any historical figures is great note, follow links for more information, especially in this case in regard to his papal rule.  As I noted in my post on him, Pope Leo became the very first Pope ever to appear on film.  Obviously Pius X was the second.  He appeared in three newsreel films (that we know of), the first of which was Pio X in Vaticano in 1907.  The second came 5 years later with Sua Santitá Pio X e le grandi feste cattoliche a Roma (1913).  The last came after his death, and was the only film to be produced of him outside of Italy:  His Holiness, the Late Pope Pius X, and the Vatican was released in the US in 1914.  In 1913, he suffered a heart attack that he never fully recovered from.  In 1914 he fell ill during the Feast of the Assumption Of Mary on the 15 August 1914--the nature of the illness was not disclosed.  He died 5 days later of another heart attack (20 August 1914).  He was 79.  He was buried in a tomb under St. Peter's Basilica in what was originally a simple and completely unadorned sarcophagus--he was subsequently moved to a more elaborate tomb.  

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