Saint Pius X (1835-1914)
Feast: August 21
Patron of first communicants, immigrants
Though he rose to become a bishop, cardinal, and pope, Giuseppe Sarto always remained at heart a simple parish priest. Born into a poor family near Venice, he wrote in his last will and testament, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I die poor." As a priest his extensive pastoral work made him aware of the acute need for religious instruction. After becoming Pope in 1903, he still taught a weekly catechism class to children. He wrote the Catechism of Saint Pius X and worked to establish the CCD in every parish.
His motto “To restore all things in Christ” guided his papacy. He encouraged liturgical reforms, lowered the age for First Communion, and encouraged frequent Communion. Under his leadership the Code of Canon Law was codified in one volume for the first time (it was promulgated by his successor, Benedict XV). Pius reacted strongly to the rise of Modernism, which he saw as a synthesis of all heresies, and condemned its theological errors. Though he is sometimes remembered mainly for his strong anti-Modernism, his legacy includes his emphasis on pastoral work, concern for the poor, and formation of the clergy. He died on the eve of World War I, grieving over the conflict about to explode in Europe.
The great goal of St. Pius X was to restore all things in Christ. That is why the pope put such an emphasis on Holy Communion. Personal union with Jesus through this sacrament can light a fire in our hearts, leading us to give of ourselves to others. Ultimately, love builds up the Church. And as Pius liked to say, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven.”
St. Pius X, intercede for us that the love of Christ may always inflame our hearts and spur us to share that love with others.
© 2017, Daughters of Saint Paul