Giuseppe Melchore Sarto was born of humble parents on June 2, 1835, in the small village of Riese near Venice. His father, a village official, and his mother raised Giuseppe in a loving Christian home. It was this home situation which prompted Giuseppe, after his college days in Castelfranco, to enter the seminary in Padua. Giuseppe Sarto was ordained at the age of 23 on September 18, 1858. His first assignment was as curate in the city of Trombolo. After nine years he was transferred to Salzano as pastor, a position he held for eight years. Due to his pastoral and administrative abilities, his bishop named him spiritual director of the diocesan major seminary and chancellor of the archdiocese, a position he held from November, 1875, until his elevation to the episcopacy of Mantua in 1884. After nine years as bishop he was transferred to Venice as the city's patriarch and cardinal. Giuseppe Cardinal Sarto won the hearts of the Venetians through his humble spirit of poverty and his love for the Church, especially in the areas of education, Catholic action and liturgy.
After the death of Leo XIII the conclave of 1903 elected Cardinal Sarto pope despite his own hesitancy to accept the office of Vicar of Christ. The new pope assumed the name Pius X. As Supreme Pontiff, Pius took as his motto the passage from Paul, "To restore all things in Christ, that Christ might be all and in all" (I Cor. 15:28), a goal which was particularly important during that period of the Church's emergence into the modern world.
During his eleven-year pontificate, Pius would confront challenge and inspire many crucial issues facing the Church. Pius X has often been called the "Pope of the Eucharist." His profound devotion to the Blessed Sacrament prompted a universal appeal to all Catholics to a frequent and fervent reception of Holy Communion. He also exhorted catechists to prepare the young for an early, knowledgeable reception of the Eucharist. It was the Holy Father's wish to use the unifying power of the Sacrament of the Altar to indeed "restore all things in Christ."
It was also his love for the liturgy which caused him to be remembered as the pope who began modern liturgical reform. Pius called for a revision of the liturgy and the Church's prayer life. He founded the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music dedicated to keeping alive the valuable treasures of Catholic liturgical music.
Pius was also instrumental in urging sound philosophical and Biblical scholarship warning against the errors of certain philosophical systems of the day and promoting the venerable tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas and Scholasticism. This devotion led him to found the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome which, to this day, is an important source of scholarship.
Pius was to witness the terrible beginnings of World War I. His sorrow over the international conflict added to his ill health, and sheer exhaustion led to his death on August 20, 1914, at the age of 79. He was canonized St. Pius X on May 29, 1954. The universal Church celebrates his holy life and example on August 21. He was the first pope in modern times to be canonized. More about Pope Saint Pius X.
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