Friday 21 August 2015

August 21st - The Feast of Pope Saint Pius X

Pope Saint Pius X in full Papal dress
PH 59/04P

August 21st is the feast day of Pope Saint Pius X, who led the Church from August 4, 1903 until his death on August 20th, 1914. We have a number of items in the archives associated with Pius X, some of which we are highlighting today.

In an August 1903 letter to Archbishop O'Connor, the Apostolic Delegate to Canada wrote "The Sacred College, directed by the Holy Spirit, has chosen a worthy successor to Leo XIII. The new Pontiff had gained the esteem and love of the Catholics in the diocese which he so wisely ruled for many years. He will, by his great piety and prudence, by his administrative ability and his breadth of view, maintain high, as did his illustrious and venerated predecessor, the prestige of the Church, and gain for her new triumphs."

Pius X appointed both Fergus McEvay and Neil McNeil as Archbishop of Toronto during his time as Pontiff. This kind of announcement was made by papal bull, which is an official document accompanied by a metal seal. The two below are handwritten on parchment.

Papal bull appointing Fergus McEvay Archbishop of Toronto.
April 13, 1908
ME RC91.03

Papal Bull appointing Neil McNeil Archbishop of Toronto.
April 10, 1912

Pius X was originally buried under St. Peter's Basilica, but his tomb was moved inside to the altar of the Presentation Chapel following his 1951 beatification. He is dressed in Papal vestments with silver covering his hands and face

Body of Pius X on display after his beatification in 1951.
PH 59/06P

Devotion to St. Pope Pius X started  shortly after his death and has remained popular. There are a church and a school named after him in Toronto.

A first class relic of Pope Saint Pius X. The relic has a wax seal and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
AF 268

Some fun facts about Pope Saint Pius X:

He was born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto in 1835 to a postman and a seamstress.    
He was Patriarch of Venice from 1893 - 1903.              
He was elected Pope in the last conclave in which a Catholic monarch used his right to veto candidates. Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria vetoed Cardinal Rampolla, Pope Leo XIII's Secretary of State. Pius X later removed this right.         
His Papal motto was Instaurare Omnia in Christo, or To Restore All Things in Christ.

He was responsible for a revision and codification of canon law which was published in 1917.

He valued causes of the poor and the education of children.

He lowered the age of eligibility for first communion from 12 to 7.  

In 1910 he had priests sign an oath against modernism, which was required until 1967. He was supportive of social justice causes, but was against the relativistic intellectual movement which denied that early Church teachings still held true.

His poor health was exacerbated by the outbreak of the First World War, which lead to his death. 

Several miracles were attributed to him, and he was beatified in 1951 and canonized in 1954. 

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