Wednesday, 21 August 2013

St Pius X

Today is the feast of Pope Saint Pius X. What are your feelings about this popular saint?  Lillian

Pius X's feast day was assigned in 1955 to September 3rd. It remained thus for fifteen years. In the 1960 calendar the rank was changed to Third-Class Feast, and in the General Roman Calendar since 1969 it became that of Memorial and the feast day is obligatorily celebrated on August 21st (today). Traditionalists, however, like myself celebrate the feast of Pius X - for whom I have great affection - on September 3rd.

Pius X (2 June 1835 – 20 August 1914) rejected modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox theology. He was the first pope since Pius V (1566 – 1572) to be canonised. The silver altar at my private retreat (see below) contains relics (ex ossibus) of St Pius X.

In 1913, Pius X suffered a heart attack, and subsequently lived in the shadow of poor health. In 1914, the Pope fell ill on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (15 August), an illness from which he would not recover. His condition was worsened by the events leading to the outbreak of World War I (1914–1918), which reportedly sent the 79-year-old Pope into a state of melancholy. He died on 20 August 1914 of a heart attack. Following his death, Pius X was buried in a simple and unadorned tomb in the crypt below St Peter's Basilica. Papal physicians had been in the habit of removing organs to aid the embalming process. Pius X expressly prohibited this in his burial and successive popes have continued this tradition. Although Pius X's canonisation took place in 1954, the events leading up to it began immediately with his death.

Pius X's feast day was assigned in 1955 to September 3rd, to be celebrated as a Double. It remained thus for fifteen years. In the 1960 calendar (incorporated in the 1962 Roman Missal of Pope John XXIII, whose continued use as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is authorised under the conditions indicated in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum) the rank was changed to Third Class Feast. The rank in the General Roman Calendar since 1969 is that of Memorial and the feast day is obligatorily celebrated on August 21st, closer to the day of his death (August 20th, impeded by the feast day of St Bernard).

Devotion to Pius X between the two world wars remained high. On 14 February 1923, in honour of the twentieth anniversary of his accession to the papacy, the first moves toward his canonisation began with the formal appointment of those who would carry out his cause. The event was marked by the erecting of a monument in his memory in St Peter's Basilica. On 19 August 1939, Pope Pius XII (1939–1958) delivered a tribute to Pius X at Castel Gandolfo. On 12 February 1943, a further development of Pius X's cause was achieved, when he was declared to have displayed heroic virtues, gaining therefore the title Venerable.

On 19 May 1944, Pius X's coffin was exhumed and was taken to the Chapel of the Holy Crucifix in St. Peter's Basilica for the canonical examination. Upon opening the coffin, the examiners found the body of Pius X remarkably well preserved, despite the fact that he had died thirty years before and had made wishes not to be embalmed. According to Jerome Dai-Gal, "all of the body" of Pius X "was in an excellent state of conservation." After the examination and the end of the apostolic process towards Pius X's cause, Pius XII bestowed the title of Venerable Servant of God upon Pius X. His body was exposed for forty-five days, before being placed back in his tomb.

Pius X lying in state, 21–22 August 1914.

The process towards beatification then began, and thus investigations by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (SCR) into miracles performed by intercessory work of Pius X subsequently took place. The SCR would eventually recognise two miracles. The first involved Sr. Marie-Françoise Deperras, a nun who had bone cancer and was cured on 7 December 1928 during a novena in which a relic of Pius X was placed on her chest. The second involved Sr Benedetta De Maria, who had cancer, and in a novena started in 1938, she eventually touched a relic statue of Pius X and was cured.

Pope Pius XII officially approved the two miracles on 11 February 1951, and on 4 March 1951. Pius XII, in his De Tuto, declared that the Church could continue in the beatification of the Venerable Pope Pius X. His beatification took place on 3 June 1951 at St Peter's before 23 cardinals, hundreds of bishops and archbishops, and a crowd of 100,000 faithful. During his beatification decree, Pius XII referred to Pius X as "Pope of the Eucharist," in honour of Pius X's expansion of the rite to children.

The tomb of Saint Pius X.
Following his beatification, on 17 February 1952, Pius X's body was transferred from its tomb to the Vatican basilica and placed under the altar of the chapel of the Presentation. The pontiff's body lies within a glass and bronze-work sarcophagus for the faithful to view.
On 29 May 1954, less than three years after his beatification, Pius X was canonised, following the SCR's recognition of two more miracles. The first involved Francesco Belsami, an attorney from Naples who had a fatal pulmonary abscess, who was cured upon placing a picture of Pope Pius X upon his chest. The second miracle involved Sr Maria Ludovica Scorcia, a nun who was afflicted with a serious neurotropic virus, and who, upon several novenas, was entirely cured. The canonisation Mass was presided over by Pope Pius XII before a crowd of approximately 800,000 of the faithful and church officials at St Peter's Basilica. Pius X became the first pope to be canonised since Pius V being canonised in 1712.


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