Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Centenary of the Death of Pope St. Pius X

August 20 marks the centenary of the death of Pope St. Pius X (reigned 1903-1914). A simple parish priest, who was later elevated to the episcopacy, made a Cardinal, and then Patriarch of Venice, and eventually was elected to the Throne of St. Peter (after the last exercise of the Imperial veto prevented the favorite, Cardinal Mariano Rompolla from being elected), he never forgot his experience as a parish priest. He had a burning love for the Most Holy Eucharist, and it was his desire that children receive the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament early, at the age of reason, that led to the current shape of the Sacraments of Initiation by children in the Western Church -- Baptism, First Holy Communion followed by Confirmation. He was an ardent reformer (his motto, "Omnia Instaurare in Christo" -- "To restore all things in Christ"), with a real love for the liturgy: he promoted Gregorian chant (which was not much in use in his day -- that hasn't changed) as the music native to the Roman Rite, as well as the Breviary, while commissioning a new translation of the Vulgate, a Catechism and the codification of Canon Law (which work was completed by his successor, Benedict XIV in 1917, giving the Church the first ever Code of Canon Law). A staunch defender of true doctrine, he combatted various modern philosophical and intellectual errors, with the encyclicals Lamentabili Sane Exitu (1907) and Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1910), as well as introducing the Oath against Modernism. He dreaded the coming of war to Europe, and died heartbroken a few weeks after it started. He was canonized in 1954, in a ceremony with nearly 800,000 attending, by Pope Pius XII.

[A short online biography of the saintly Pope.]

1954 was also the year in which the Diocese of Atlanta was formed from the 71 northern counties of the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta (the co-Cathedral being added to the Diocese of Savannah in 1936). Thus, Pope St. Pius X was chosen as the co-Patron of the new Diocese, after the Most Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Cathedral being dedicated to Our Blessed Lord, Christ the King). The See was elevated to Metropolitan status in 1962.

My chalice (a gift from my mother, which I acquired at an online churchware site) has a connection to Pope St. Pius X. Inside the base plate are the words, "Offert Par PP Pie X" (in French -- "Offered by Pope Pius X) and his motto, "Omnia Instaurare in Christo." According to the dealer notes, this chalice, made in the Vatican during the reign of Pope Pius IX (his arms are on the node), was a gift to the Cardinal Archbishop of Lyon, by Pope Pius X. I have no real way of verifying this claim, however. Still, it gives me great joy to think that the chalice that has come into my stewardship for the duration of my priesthood in this earthly life, was associated with this saintly Pope.

In 1955, Pope St. Pius X's feast was assigned to September 5, which is when it is celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, as a feast of the IIIrd class. In the reformed calendar, his feast is an obligatory Memorial, celebrated on August 21, the day after his death (August 20 being reserved to St. Bernard, a Doctor of the Church).

Through the intercession of St. Pius X, may we gain a greater love and zeal for the Most Holy Eucharist, a love for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a desire to learn and defend the true faith against errors and heresy, and may be invite the Holy Spirit to make all things new in Christ in our own lives.

UPDATE: I forgot completely to mention the first-class relic of Pope St. Pius X which I acquired in seminary.

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