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Title: Pope Pius the Tenth
Author: Forbes, F. A. (Frances Alice), 1869-1936
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pope Pius the Tenth" ***

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[Transcriber's note: First published 1918; second edition 1919; third
edition 1924; fourth edition entitled _Pope Saint Pius the Tenth_,
unchanged in content except for anonymous postscript referring to
canonization of Pope Pius X (omitted here), 1954]






















In the village of Riese in the Venetian plains was born on the 2nd of
June, 1835, a child who was destined to leave his mark on the world's

Giuseppe[*] Melchior Sarto was the eldest of the eight surviving
children of Giovanni Battista Sarto, the municipal messenger and
postman of Riese, and his wife Margherita. They were poor people, and
it was difficult sometimes to make both ends meet. The daily fare was
hard and scanty, and the future pope was clothed, as an Italian
biographer puts it, "as God willed." But both Giovanni Battista and
his wife came of a hard-working, God-fearing stock, who could endure
manfully and suffer patiently, and who taught their children to do
the same.

[*] Joseph, Beppo, Beppino, Bepi and Beppe are all diminutives of the
same name. "Sarto" is the English "Taylor."

Little Bepi was remarkable both for his intelligence and for his
restless activity. The village schoolmaster, who at once singled him
out as a pupil worth cultivating, was, we are told, not infrequently
obliged to use means more persuasive than agreeable to calm his
vivacity. Indeed, the seraphic element in Bepi seems to have been
considerably leavened by that of the human boy. "That little rascal!"
exclaimed an old inhabitant of Riese when he heard of Cardinal
Sarto's elevation to the papacy, "Many a cherry of mine has found its
way down his throat!"

It was not long before Bepi had mastered the rudiments of reading and
writing, which were all that the village school could offer. He
became an efficient server at Mass, and such was his influence over
his companions that at the age of ten he was appointed leader of the
somewhat unruly band of acolytes who served in the village church.
The young master of ceremonies proved himself perfectly equal to the
occasion. There was such a serene good temper and such a merry wit
behind the somewhat drastic methods of Bepi that his authority was
irresistible and unquestioned.

To most boys who serve daily at the altar the thought of the priestly
life will sooner or later suggest itself; to some it comes as an
overwhelming call. Giuseppe's vocation seems to have grown up with
him, to have been, from his earliest years, the very centre of his
life. About half a mile beyond Riese stands a chapel dedicated to the
Blessed Virgin, containing a statue known as the Madonna delle
Cendrole. Here young Bepi loved to come and pray, pouring out his
joys and sorrows at the feet of the Mother of Christ, and perhaps she
was the first confidant of his desire to consecrate his life to God.
Certainly this sanctuary was especially dear to him in after-life, as
one round which clung the happiest memories of his childhood.

At twelve years old the boy made his first communion. Did he think
the time was long in coming, and was it the memory of the desire of
his own childish heart that moved him in after years to shorten the
time of waiting for the children of the Catholic world?

Anything that tended to the knowledge of God seemed to have an
irresistible fascination for Bepi. Never was he known to miss the
classes where the parish priest, Don Tito Fusarini, and his curate,
Don Luigi Orazio, taught Christian doctrine to the children of the
parish. So quick was his intelligence and so remarkable his aptitude
that Don Luigi, who at the time was teaching Latin to his own younger
brother, took Bepi also as pupil. The boy's progress soon convinced
his tutor that he had the makings of a scholar, and the two priests
determined to prepare him for the grammar school at Castelfranco.

Distant about four miles from Riese, Castelfranco, with its medieval
and romantic atmosphere, its ancient fortress and picturesquely
crowded market-place, is not the least attractive of the old Venetian
cities. Here, in 1447, was born Giorgione, and here, in the beautiful
old cathedral, is to be seen one of his most famous Madonnas. On
either side of the Virgin Mother, seated on a throne with the Divine
Child in her arms, stand St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Liberalis,
the patron saint of Treviso, a young knight in armour. Many a time
must the boy Giuseppe have slipped into the quiet cathedral to pray
before the Madonna. Did he ask for the strength of the warrior and
the humility of the friar, to be loving like the Christ and pure like
His Mother? Those who knew him in after-life could bear witness that
these gifts were his.

Day after day, in all weathers, the boy tramped the four miles into
Castelfranco, his shoes slung over his shoulder, and a piece of bread
or a lump of polenta in his pocket. In the fourth and last year of
Giuseppe's school life he was joined by his brother Angelo, and as
the financial affairs of their father had slightly improved, the two
brothers were promoted to a rather ramshackle donkey-cart.

The day's work was far from over when the lads came home from school.
There was plenty to be done in the house and outside it. Both the cow
and the donkey must be attended to; there was work in the garden and
work in the fields. It was Bepi's delight to help his mother in the
care of the house, and to look after his baby brothers and sisters,
that she might have a little sorely needed rest. His merry nature and
thoughtful unselfishness made him a general favourite, while the
younger members of the family looked up to him almost as much as to
their parents.

From the beginning of his first year at Castelfranco Giuseppe Sarto
had shown himself a hard-working and brilliant pupil, qualities which
do not always go together, At the end of his fourth year, in the
examinations held at the diocesan seminary of Treviso, he came out
first in every subject. The two priests of Riese were justly proud of
their scholar, and dreamed of great things in the future. Education,
however, costs money; and the Sarto family were not only poor, but
had eight children to provide for. That Bepi had a vocation to the
priesthood was evident to everyone who had had to do with him. The
next step was obviously the seminary; but who was to pay the
expenses? The stipend of an Italian parish priest leaves no margin
for such undertakings. Don Tito Fusarini therefore went to Canon
Casagrande, prefect of studies at the seminary, who had examined the
boys of Castelfranco; he would surely interest himself in the
brilliant youngster who had passed with honour in every subject.

Now it happened that the patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Jacopo Monico,
was himself the son of a peasant, and a child of that very village of
Riese. Distinguished no less for his love of letters than for his
zeal for religion, it belonged to him to name the few students who
were entitled to a free scholarship at the seminary of Padua. That
his heart would be touched at the thought of his young fellow
townsman, like himself a child of the people, and unable to continue
his priestly education for lack of means, was a likely surmise. Don
Tito applied to Canon Casagrande, begging him to plead Giuseppe's
cause with the patriarch, a request which met with a prompt and
hearty assent.

At Riese all was suspense and hope. The postman was a man of firm
faith, whose trust in God had never failed him; Margherita prayed
unceasingly. As to Bepi his whole future lay in the balance; the
dearest hopes of his heart depended on the patriarch's answer. At
last the letter arrived. Canon Casagrande announced to Don Fusarini
that Giuseppe Sarto had been proposed and accepted as a student at
the seminary of Padua, and that the patriarch had himself written to
the bishop of the diocese recommending young Sarto to his care.

Giuseppe's joy was not unmixed with sorrow at the thought of leaving
for the first time the humble village home with all its dear
associations. In the dusk of an early November morning the
fifteen-year-old boy packed his few belongings into the country cart,
in those days the only means of conveyance for the poor, and, bravely
choking back the tears that could hardly be repressed, bade farewell
to his family.

If the medieval charm of Castelfranco had influenced the young
student so profoundly, there was enough and to spare in the city of
Padua to satisfy his love of beauty. Famous throughout the world is
the basilica of Il Santo, built in the thirteenth century, and
dedicated in honour of the great St. Antony. Sculptures by Donatello,
bas-reliefs by Lombardi and pictures by Mantegna, Veronese and Giotto
adorn its walls. The cathedral, partly destroyed in the twelfth
century, was rebuilt by Michelangelo. The university, founded in the
thirteenth century, and counting among its students such men as
Vittorino da Feltre, the great educator, and Giovanni da Ravenna, the
friend of Petrarch, was famous throughout the Middle Ages for its
schools of medicine and of law.

The seminary, founded in 1577 and greatly enlarged a century later,
boasts a handsome church and a noble library rich in precious
manuscripts. It was probably the first library that Bepi had seen,
certainly the first of which he had had the freedom, and one can
imagine the delight of the young student as he wandered through its
lofty halls, and realized that its treasures were henceforward part
of the endowment of the new life that was now his.

The intelligence and cheery good-humour of Giuseppe, joined to the
charm of manner that seems to have been his from childhood, soon made
him a general favourite both with boys and masters. "His mind is
quick," wrote one of the latter to Don Pietro Jacuzzi, who had
succeeded Don Orazio as curate of Riese and was a firm friend of
Bepi's, "his will strong and mature, his industry remarkable." The
somewhat strict discipline of the seminary presented no difficulties
to a boy who had all his life been accustomed to self-denial; a
willing and intelligent submission to authority was indeed a
characteristic of Giuseppe Sarto throughout his life. "In order to
command," he was to say hereafter as pope, "it is necessary to have
learned to obey."

At the end of his first year at Padua, Giuseppe was first in all his
classes. The home-coming to Riese was an unclouded joy, both to the
young seminarist and to his family. The holidays were spent in the
company of the friends of his childhood in the country that he loved.
To Don Jacuzzi and Don Fusarini he was as a beloved son, and much of
his time was spent either at the presbytery or in long rambles with
the good curate. Neither could studies be altogether neglected,
although it was holiday time; and the autumn days passed quickly

Back again at Padua, Giuseppe set to work vigorously, without a
presentiment of the sorrow that was so soon to overcloud his
happiness. In the month of May his father died after a few days'
illness, leaving his wife and large family in very straitened
circumstances. The thought of the struggle which his mother was
waging against poverty lay like a weight upon Giuseppe's heart. He
was the eldest of the family and would have come to her assistance,
but not for worlds would the good Margherita have allowed her son to
give up his priestly career. She was full of courage, and the other
boys were growing up; they would soon be able to help to support the
family. A second grief followed upon the first. Don Tito Fusarini,
who had been like a second father to Bepi, and whose failing health
had caused him for some time past to rely more and more upon the
devotedness of his curate, was at last obliged to give up his work at

Don Pietro Jacuzzi, who succeeded him as rector, had been, from the
day of his arrival in the village, Giuseppe's firm friend and chief
adviser in all his boyish difficulties. The lad looked up to him as
the model of everything that a priest should be, and corresponded
with him continually from Padua. To him he owed the love and the
knowledge of music that was to prove so valuable in after years, for
had he not assisted at the transformation that had taken place in the
village choir under the able tuition of Don Pietro? He had been
witness, too, of the rector's unselfish and untiring devotion to his
priestly duties which had won him the love and reverence of his
parishioners; but within a year Giuseppe was to lose this second
friend also. Don Pietro was transferred to Vascon, to the grief of
the people of Riese.

When Giuseppe came home for the autumn holidays in 1853 the fullness
of his loss became clear to him; Riese was hardly Riese without Don
Tito and Don Pietro. The new parish priest, whose somewhat morose
character formed a striking contrast to the genial kindliness of his
two predecessors, was not popular. He did not like sick calls in the
night, and told his parishioners so plainly from the pulpit. But
sickness and death have a knack of not considering the convenience of
the parish priest, or indeed of anybody else; and of this the
inhabitants of Riese were fully aware.

By his very position as a church student Giuseppe was bound to be on
friendly terms with the presbytery. On the other hand, mixing as he
did with the people of the place, he could not avoid hearing some
severe criticisms of their pastor. While forced to admit to himself
that the methods of the new arrival were a little singular, the boy's
loyal and upright nature forbade him to discuss matters with his
friends. In this difficult and awkward position the lad of seventeen
showed a tact and discernment which would have been admirable in a
man of experience, "These holidays have been perfectly miserable," he
wrote to Don Jacuzzi, who had learnt from other correspondents how
things were going on; "I shut myself up in the house as much as I can
and try when visiting the members of my family to keep off dangerous

    "No greater grief than to remember days
     Of joy when sorrow is at hand,"

he quotes, for he knew his Dante well. "Even the singing has gone
down. I long for my little room at the seminary and the quiet life of

In 1856 Giuseppe distinguished himself more than ever, He had now
only two years more to spend at the seminary. His brilliant successes
as a student left him modest and humble as before, whilst his cheery
kindliness and sympathy made him a powerful influence for good
amongst his young companions. Such was the trust reposed in him by
his superiors that he had for long been prefect of discipline in the
general study room. "My masters call me '_Giubilato_'," he wrote to
Don Pietro. "I wish I could do more to show my gratitude for their
kindness." Nevertheless he greatly appreciated the private room
allotted to him during his last two years at Padua. "Here I read and
work," he wrote to the same dear friend, "and prepare myself for the
life of solitude and study that will be mine as a priest." His
favourite studies were the Bible and the Fathers of the Church. The
pastoral letters and papal encyclicals of later years bear witness to
the fact that this predilection lasted throughout his life.

His knowledge and love of music had obtained for him the direction of
the seminary choir. "I have worked so hard at the music for the feast
of St. Aloysius," he wrote in the June of 1857, "that I am fairly
dried up."

On the 27th of February of the same year he was ordained subdeacon in
the cathedral of Treviso, and on the feast of the Sacred Heart went
to Riese to preach. "Last Sunday I went to Riese to give a little
discourse on the Sacred Heart," he writes to Don Pietro. He does not
mention that the little discourse was so striking and so eloquent
that the enthusiasm of the congregation knew no bounds.

At the end of August, 1858, Giuseppe Sarto's seminary life was over.
As he was only twenty-three, and the canonical age for ordination is
twenty-four, the Bishop of Treviso wrote to Rome to obtain a
dispensation. The young cleric had finished his last year as he had
finished his first, with honours in every subject. The record of his
triumphal progress is still to be seen in the books of the seminary
of Padua, the professors united in praising the qualities of his
character no less than those of his intellect. In September the
dispensation arrived, and with it the day so long desired, when
Giuseppe Sarto was to be for ever consecrated to the service of God.
The Bishop of Treviso was then at Castelfranco, and it was here that
the ordination was to take place.

An autumn mist lay like a veil over the familiar landscape as the
young man drove along the road which led from Riese to Castelfranco.
The horse trotted swiftly, yet the way had never seemed so long. How
often had he tramped it in the old days through dust and mud and
snow, barefoot to save the shoes that were such a heavy item of
expense in the Sarto family. And it was the thought of the day which
at last had dawned, a day that seemed then so far away and so
impossible, which had been the inspiration and the strength of that
life of hardships, making everything easy to bear. The supreme
happiness that now possessed him blotted out all the past. The first
glimpse of the ivied walls of Castelfranco made his heart beat almost
to suffocation. "To-day I shall be a priest," was the one thought
that possessed him; and when, a little later, he knelt at the altar
of the cathedral where he had so often prayed as a child, to receive
the sacred laying-on of hands, it seemed to him as if earth had
nothing more to give.

On the following day the newly-made priest sang his first Mass in the
parish church of Riese. Who shall describe the joy of his mother as
that beloved voice, clear and resonant as it remained even to old
age, yet tremulous with the joy and fear of the moment, pronounced
the words of the great Mystery? The Mass ended, the congregation
flocked to kiss the hands of the young priest whom they had known and
loved from childhood--hands that had touched to-day for the first
time the Body of the Lord. To say that it was a feast day in Riese
but feebly expresses the general jubilation.

A few days later Don Giuseppe received a letter announcing his
destination. The Bishop of Treviso had appointed him curate to Don
Antonio Costantini, the parish priest of Tombolo.



The village of Tombolo, in the province of Padua and the diocese of
Treviso, is surrounded by hilly and well-wooded country, watered by
the tributary streams of the Brenta. The parish church, St. Andrew's,
stands in the centre of the little township. Tombolo boasts of no
commercial industries; it is a pastoral country, and the greater part
of the population is occupied in dairy farming and the rearing of
cattle. The people have clearly marked characteristics; strong and
robust in build, hardened to sun, rain, and wind, rough-voiced and
somewhat ungentle in manner, they have, nevertheless, good hearts and
are in their own way religious.

But the Tombolani have one vice--or had when Don Giuseppe became;
their curate. They swore systematically and profusely at everything,
at each other, and at the world at large. "No offence is intended to
Almighty God," they explained ingenuously to the horrified young
priest. "He certainly understands. Just go to market, and try to sell
your beasts and your grain with a 'please' and a 'thank you,' and you
will see what you will get!"

There may have been some truth in this; and intention, no doubt, goes
a long way; but the argument did not satisfy Don Giuseppe. For the
moment he dropped the subject, but he had not done with it.

The rector of the parish, Don Antonio Costantini, was habitually
ailing. Devoted to his people and wholly desirous to do them good,
his ill-health was a constant impediment. He had many tastes in
common with his curate, notably the love of music and of biblical and
patristic studies. He soon learnt to look upon Don Giuseppe as a son,
and highly appreciated his good qualities.

"They have sent me a young man as curate," he wrote to a friend,
"with orders to form him to the duties of a parish priest. I assure
you it is likely to be the other way about. He is so zealous, so full
of common sense and other precious gifts that I could find much to
learn from him. Some day he will wear the mitre--of that I am
certain--and afterwards? Who knows?"

The good rector nevertheless did his best to fulfil his commission.
"Don Bepi," he would say to his young curate, "I did not quite like
this or that in your last sermon." When the church was empty he would
make Don Bepi go into the pulpit and preach, criticizing and
commenting the while both on matter and method; comments well worth
having, for Don Antonio was a man of wide learning and an excellent
theologian. Meanwhile Don Bepi, whose sermons were already becoming
famous throughout the countryside for their zeal and eloquence, would
listen humbly and promise to try to do better.

The income of the young curate was next to nothing, for Tombolo was a
very poor parish; but he had not been used to luxury. He had planned
his priestly life before his ordination, and was busy carrying out
the scheme. To study deeply in order to fit himself more fully for
preaching; to do as much good as was possible in the confessional and
in the pulpit; to help his people both materially and morally, to
visit the sick, to succour the poor and to instruct the
ignorant--such was the programme, and with all the vigour of his soul
he threw himself into the work.

The widowed niece of Don Antonio who kept house for her uncle used to
see a light burning in the window of Don Giuseppe's poor lodging the
last thing at night and the first thing in the morning.

"Do you never go to bed, Don Bepi?" she asked at breakfast one day,
for the curate took his meals at the rectory.

Don Bepi laughed. "I study a good deal," he replied. He confessed
later that he slept for four hours, and found it quite sufficient for
his needs.

"He was as thin as a rake," said the good lady when pressed in
after-life for reminiscences, "for he scarcely ate enough to keep
body and soul together, and was never off his feet."

In the morning he would often ring the church bell for Mass, in order
not to disturb the sacristan. Then he would go to fetch Don Antonio,
having prepared for him all that was needed. Sometimes he would find
his chief unwell and unable to rise.

"What is the matter?" he would ask in his cheery way--"another bad

"I am afraid I cannot get up," would be the plaintive answer.

"Don't try to; stay quiet, and do not worry yourself I will see to
everything," the cheery voice would continue.

"But you have already one sermon to preach to-day, my Bepi."

"What of that? I will preach two."

During the days of sickness Don Giuseppe, as well as doing double
duty, would himself nurse the poor invalid. How he managed it was
known to himself alone.

He had not forgotten--there was no chance of forgetting--the
deplorable language of his parishioners. The curate mixed with them
as much as he could, making friends especially with the young men and
the boys. He interested himself in their work and in their play,
treating them with such a spirit of friendly comradeship that they
would crowd to talk to him whenever he appeared. One day some of them
lamented that they could neither read nor write.

"Let us start a night school," proposed Don Bepi, "and I will teach

"It would be too difficult," objected another; "some of us know a
little, some less, and others nothing at all."

"What of that?" replied the priest. "We will have two classes-those
who know something, and those who know nothing. We will get the
schoolmaster to take the upper class, and I will teach the alphabet."

"Why shouldn't he teach the alphabet?" protested a loyal admirer of
Don Giuseppe.

Bepi laughed. "The alphabet is hard work," he answered, "I had rather
keep it."

"But we can't take up your time like that for nothing," declared
another. "What can we do for you in return?"

"Stop swearing," answered Bepi promptly, "and I shall then be more
than repaid."

The school of singing made rapid progress in his hands. Don Antonio,
who, like his curate, was an ardent lover of Gregorian music, warmly
seconded all his efforts. The somewhat unmelodious, if extremely
powerful, vocalization of the village choir became quiet and
prayerful under his tuition. If one of the acolytes showed signs of a
vocation to the priesthood, Don Giuseppe would teach him privately
until he knew enough to go up for examination at the diocesan

On one point Don Antonio and his curate could never agree. Everything
that could be saved out of Don Giuseppe's tiny income went straight
to the poor. They knew it, and when he went to preach in a
neighbouring village would lie in wait for him as he returned with
his modest fee in his pocket. It sometimes happened that when he
reached home not a penny would be left, and Don Antonio would

"It is not fair to your mother, Bepi," he would say; "you should
think of her."

"God will provide for my mother," was the answer; "these poor souls
were in greater need than she."

Invitations to preach in other parishes became more frequent. What he
said was always simple, but it was full of teaching and went straight
to the heart. The young priest had, moreover, a natural eloquence and
a sonorous and beautiful voice. It was so evident that he spoke from
the fullness of a soul on fire with the love of God that his
enthusiasm was catching, and his sermons bore fruit. It happened on
one occasion that a priest who had been invited to preach on a
feast-day in the neighbouring village of Galliera was prevented at
the last moment from coming. There was consternation at the
presbytery. What was to be done?

"Leave it to me," said Don Carlo Carminati, curate of Galliera and a
friend of Don Giuseppe; "I promise you it will be all right," and
jumping into the presbytery pony-cart he took the road to Tombolo.

It was a Sunday afternoon and the hour of the children's catechism
class. Don Giuseppe was at the church door, about to enter.

"Stop, stop," cried Don Carlo, "I want to speak to you." Don Giuseppe

"You must come and preach at Galliera," said Don Carlo; "our preacher
has fallen through."

"What are you thinking of?" exclaimed Don Giuseppe. "I cannot
improvise in the pulpit!" and he turned once more to go into the

"You have got to come, your rector says so, and there is not a minute
to lose," replied his friend; and, laying hold of the still
expostulating Don Giuseppe, he packed him into the pony-cart, bowed
to Don Antonio who stood smiling at the scene, and whipped up his
steed. Arrived at Galliera, Don Carlo conducted his victim to an
empty room, provided him with pencil and paper and left him. An hour
later, having been set at liberty by his triumphant fellow-curate,
Don Giuseppe vested and entered the church. The sermon that followed
was so eloquent and so appropriate to the occasion that what had
threatened to be a calamity became a cause for rejoicing. "Did not I
tell you?" exclaimed Don Carlo.

Don Giuseppe's energy was boundless, and to him no labour was amiss.
"Work," he used to say, "is man's chief duty on earth." When the
presbytery cook fell ill, he both nursed him and took his place; for
in his eyes any kind of work was a thing to draw men nearer to the
Christ who was "poor and in labours from His youth."

Whether it was preaching, teaching, playing with the village
children, visiting the sick, helping the dying, hearing confessions,
catechizing the young or studying theology, it was all the same to
him--work for the Master, and as such ennobling and honourable.

So the time passed, until Don Giuseppe had been eight years at
Tombolo. Much as Don Antonio loved and appreciated his curate, or
rather because of this very love and appreciation, it distressed him
to think that his talents should have no wider sphere than a little
country parish. He spoke of this one day to one of the canons of
Treviso. The two curates of Galliera who were present joined
enthusiastically in the praise of their friend. The canon became

"Do you think he could preach in the cathedral of Padua for the feast
of St. Antony?" he asked after a moment of reflection.

"Most certainly, Monsignor," was the answer.

"Well," continued the canon, "if you will be responsible for his
accepting, I will see to it that he is asked."

The feast-day sermon was naturally a topic of much interest in Padua.
"Who is to preach?" was the question on everybody's lips on the
morning of the great day.

"Don Giuseppe Sarto, a young priest who is curate of Tombolo," was
the reply.

Now it was customary on the feast of St. Antony to ask a preacher of
some distinction to occupy the cathedral pulpit.

"The curate of Tombolo!" was the apprehensive comment. "Oh dear! A
country curate from an out-of-the-way village!" The cathedral was
crowded for the high Mass. When the slight young figure of Don
Giuseppe mounted the pulpit stairs there was a gasp of astonishment,
which gave place to an expectant silence.

"His intelligence and culture were no less remarkable than his
eloquence," wrote one of the congregation to a friend. "His imagery
was beautiful, his style perfect." The sermon lasted over an hour,
and no one thought it too long.

In the May of 1867 Don Giuseppe was appointed rector of Salzano. A
wail of lamentation arose from the little parish where he had worked
so faithfully for nearly ten years. "He was our father, our brother,
our friend, and our comfort," cried the Tombolani. In the heart of
Don Antonio grief for his loss contended with joy at the thought that
the merits of his beloved Don Bepi had been recognized at last.

Salzano is a small country town in the province of Venetia. It has a
handsome church with a graceful campanile and a somewhat imposing
presbytery. The country is fertile, and the people, who are wholly
given to agriculture, are quiet, steady and hard-working. The new
rector arrived on a Saturday evening in July. At Mass the next
morning, in spite of the heat, the church was crowded, for the
inhabitants of the neighbouring villages had assembled in force to
hear the sermon of the newly appointed _parroco_.

The result was a delightful surprise. "What was the bishop thinking
of," they asked one another when Mass was over, "to leave a man like
that buried all these years at a place like Tombolo?"

As for Don Giuseppe, he set to work at once to visit his people. His
frank simplicity, his understanding sympathy and zeal for their
welfare gained their hearts at once. As at Tombolo, he gave special
attention to the instruction of children; and, not content with this,
inaugurated classes in Christian doctrine for the adults. "Most of
the evil in the world," he would often say, "comes from a want of the
knowledge of God and of His truth."

In spite of the large parish and the handsome rectory, Don Giuseppe's
habits were as frugal as ever. There was more to give to the poor,
that was all. His sister Rosina kept house for him.

"Bepi," she said one day, "there is nothing for dinner."

"Not even a couple of eggs?"

A couple of eggs there were, and on these they dined.

But there was always a welcome at the rectory and a share of anything
that was going for any old friend who dropped in. Don Carlo came one
evening for a visit, and found Don Giuseppe in the kitchen playing
games with some little children. They were sent home with a promise
that the game should be continued on another occasion, and Don Carlo
was pressed to stay. The next morning he was accosted by Rosina.

"Don Carlo, you are an old friend, and a very kind one," she began
hesitatingly; "there is a man coming to-morrow who sells shirting."

"Really?" answered Don Carlo, rather at a loss to connect the

"Yesterday my brother got a little money," continued Rosina, "and he
has hardly a shirt to his back. Now if you were to try to persuade
him to buy some shirting, I think he perhaps would do it. Will you do
your best?"

Don Carlo promised, and took the first opportunity of broaching the

"Nonsense, nonsense," was the answer, "there is no necessity at all,"
and the plea was cut short.

But Don Carlo was not so easily beaten; he knew the sunny nature of
his friend, and determined to have recourse to strategy. On the
arrival of the pedlar, he examined his materials, selected what he
considered suitable, and set to work, after the manner of his
country, to bargain. Having agreed on what he considered a fair
price, he ordered the required length to be cut off, and turned to
Don Giuseppe who had been innocently watching the transaction. "So
many yards at such and such a price," he declared. "Pay up, Don

The rector was disgusted; but there was nothing to be done but to
obey. The bargain had been made and the shirting cut off. "Even _you_
come here and plot to betray me," he complained.

As for Rosina, her delight knew no bounds. "God bless the day you
came, Don Carlo," she said, meeting him outside the door. "If you had
not been here to-day, to-morrow there would have been neither money
nor linen!"

Salzano was a large parish, and the rector had to keep a conveyance.
It was not much to look at, but it did hard service, being at the
disposal of everybody who appealed to the well-known charity of its
owner. The horse came home one day with both knees badly damaged.

"I am very sorry," pleaded the borrower, "an accident . . . ."

Don Giuseppe swallowed hard. "Never mind, never mind," he said; "it
is all right."

One day--there had been a bad harvest that year, and there was much
poverty in the parish--the rector asked a friend who was in easy
circumstances to sell the horse for him. "You have so many relations
with money," he pleaded.

The horse having been disposed of, it was then suggested that the
same friend might also sell the carriage.

"I don't think I shall succeed," he remarked doubtfully, "for you
must allow that it is not in the best condition." His fears were too
true; no purchaser was found, and the carriage remained in the
presbytery stable at the disposal of anyone who possessed a horse
without a vehicle.

In 1873 there was a serious outbreak of cholera. The people of
Salzano knew little of hygiene and less of sanitation; it was hard to
make them take the most necessary precautions. Don Giuseppe was
everything at once: doctor, nurse and sanitary inspector, as well as
parish priest. Not only were there the sick and the dying to be
tended, but the living to be heartened and consoled. "If it had not
been for our dear Don Giuseppe," said an old man in later days, "I
should have died of fear and sorrow during those dreadful times."
Some of the people took it into their heads that the medicines and
remedies ordered by the doctor were intended to put them quickly out
of their pain, and would not take them unless they were administered
by the priest's own hand.

For fear of infection, the dead had to be buried by night, and no one
was allowed to attend the funeral. Anxious lest in the fear and the
haste of the moment due honour should not be paid to these victims of
the epidemic, Don Giuseppe was always there to see that all was done
as it should be. Not only did he say the prayers and carry out the
rites prescribed by the Church, but would take his place as coffin
bearer, and even helped to dig the graves. Sorrow at the heartrending
scenes he had to witness, added to these incessant labours by night
and by day, would have ruined a less robust constitution than his. It
is small wonder that Don Carlo Carminati, coming to visit him soon
afterwards, was horrified at his appearance.

"You are ill!" he exclaimed.

"You think so?" was the quiet answer.

"He _is_ ill," interposed Rosina vehemently, "but what can you
expect? He is everybody's servant, he never spares himself. He has
not only given away the food from his own mouth, but his night's
rest. Look at him, nothing but skin and bone!"

"Your sister is right, you are doing too much. Remember that the
pitcher can go to the well once too often; and when it is quite worn
out, it will break."

"You are becoming quite an orator," commented Don Giuseppe with a

Don Carlo was a man of action. He wrote to Don Antonio Costantini
telling him that their dear Giuseppe was killing himself, and begging
him to give a hint to the diocesan authorities. The hint was duly
conveyed and duly taken. The bishop wrote to the rector of Salzano,
ordering him to take more care of himself; but this was an art which
Don Giuseppe had never studied, and he did not know how to begin. He
continued to devote himself body and soul to his flock, leaving
himself to the care of God.

With Don Giuseppe the service of Christ in His poor went hand in hand
with the service of Christ at the altar. During his ministry at
Salzano the parish church was greatly improved and beautified. He got
together a choir of young men and boys and taught them to sing the
stately Gregorian music that he loved for its devout and prayerful
spirit. Even those who knew the stark poverty of the rector's private
life did not always understand how the means could be obtained to
carry out the plans he had at heart.

"But how will you get the money?" they would sometimes ask.

"God will provide," was the quiet answer, given with the serene faith
characteristic of the strong.



In the early spring of the year 1875 the chancellor of the diocese of
Treviso was removed to Fossalunga. A canon's stall was also vacant,
while the seminary was in need of a spiritual director. It was the
general opinion that if these three offices could be held by one
holy, wise and purposeful man, it would be an excellent thing for all
parties concerned.

"I have it!" said Bishop Zinelli, "Don Giuseppe Sarto is the very man
we need."

No sooner said than done. The rector of Salzano was named chancellor
and residential canon of the cathedral of Treviso, and appointed
spiritual director of the seminary. The bishop had not forgotten the
warnings of Don Giuseppe's friends. By this arrangement the newly
appointed canon would reside at the seminary, where the care of his
health would not be left entirely in his own hands. He would,
moreover, preside at the professors' table, and therefore would be
unable to indulge his tendency to starve so as to feed the poor.

The news was received with mixed feelings by the people of Salzano.
Joy that their beloved father should receive such a mark of honour
struggled hard with their grief at losing him. It comforted them a
little, they said, to think that his precious gifts, instead of being
spent on Salzano alone, would now find full scope in a diocese that
counted two hundred and ten parishes.

It was not until the autumn of the same year that Don Giuseppe bade
farewell to his sorrowing parishioners, and, taking possession of his
stall, sang the first vespers of Advent Sunday in the cathedral of
Treviso. Like all the other professors of the seminary, Canon Sarto
had three small rooms set apart for his use. From the windows he
could look across the neatly-kept garden to where the quiet waters of
the Sile, flowing by the ivy-coloured walls, widened out into little
lakes amongst the thickets of poplar and plane trees that lay beyond.

The rector of the seminary was Don Giuseppe's old friend Pietro
Jacuzzi, and there were in the college 160 lay students and 54
aspirants to the priesthood. "I well remember Monsignor Sarto's first
instruction," said one of the latter in after years. "'You are
expecting to find in me,' he began, 'a man of profound learning and
of wide experience in spiritual matters, a master in asceticism and
doctrine. You will be disappointed, for I am none of these things. I
am only a poor country parish-priest. But I am here by God's
will--therefore you must bear with me.' I have forgotten the
instruction," added the narrator, "but the preamble I shall never

A regular course of instruction and meditation was begun at once, and
immediately won the attention of the students. The lucid simplicity
with which Monsignor Sarto spoke carried the minds of his hearers
straight into the heart of the truth which they were considering. The
students were never tired, never puzzled, his conferences being
eminently practical and within the grasp of his audience. His aim was
to inculcate real solid piety which would endure throughout the
troubles and temptations of life. It is not everybody who has the art
of appealing to the young: it was one in which Monsignor Sarto
excelled. Even in his familiar talks, full of merriment and sympathy,
there was always something helpful and uplifting. Personal
cleanliness, not as a rule the most prominent characteristic of
southern nations, was a thing on which he laid particular stress.
Gentle and kind as he was to all weakness and suffering, he could be
stern enough when it was necessary, and his reproofs were seldom
forgotten. If any of the students fell sick, he would nurse them with
a mother's tenderness; and to those of the seminarists who were the
sons of poor parents he gave material as well as moral help.

It happened that one of these students was in great distress by
reason of a family difficulty. His father, a poor working man, was in
urgent need of a few pounds, and there was no means of obtaining the
sum. He confided his trouble to one of his companions, who asked him
why he did not go to Monsignor Sarto and tell him all about it. The
advice was taken, and he knocked at the familiar door. Monsignor
Sarto was seated at his table reading. "What can I do for you?" he
asked kindly.

The young man, who found it difficult to put his trouble into words,
stammered out the whole story, Monsignor Sarto listening with
compassion. "I am so sorry," he said when the tale was ended, "but I
have only a few lire, nothing like the sum you require." The poor
student broke down completely, for his last hope was gone.

"Come, come; cheer up!" cried the good canon, greatly distressed;
"come to me to-morrow, and if I cannot give you all, I may be able to
give you part of the money."

Next morning the seminarist returned.

"Well?" said Monsignor Sarto.

"Well?" answered the student nervously.

"Do you really think," continued the canon, "that I can manufacture
banknotes?" Then, seeing the young man's distress, he added hastily:
"Come come, my son, I was only joking, I have got the money," and,
opening a little drawer, he took out the required sum.

"You will soon be a priest," he continued, "and when you can do so
without inconvenience, you must give it back to me, for you see I
have had to borrow it myself."

The winters were sometimes bitterly cold at Treviso, and the house
was unwarmed. The needy students would often find warm clothing
provided for them by the same charitable hand. A tradesman of Treviso
certified that he received many orders from Monsignor Sarto for warm
cloaks, with strict injunction to keep the matter secret. That the
canon had seldom more than a few lire in his possession was not

It was a labour of love to him to prepare the little boys for their
first communion. The vice-rector begged that this task might be left
to those of the staff who had more time to spare.

"It is my duty," was the answer. "Am I not their spiritual father?"

In order to obtain the necessary time Monsignor Sarto deprived
himself of the evening walk which was his only recreation after a day
of hard work; and, assembling his lively little band of neophytes in
the church, he would hold them spellbound.

His kindness and quick sympathy made him as popular with the staff.
Laying aside the cares of his office together with the big bundle of
papers that accompanied him everywhere, he set himself to make the
time spent in the refectory as refreshing for the minds as it was for
the bodies of his colleagues. The amusing stories told by him and the
interesting discussions he set afoot were long remembered, as was his
sly teasing of certain professors. These were not the moments, he
held, for discussing serious questions; anyone who mentioned the word
logic, for instance, was obliged to make amends by telling an
interesting or useful story. When Monsignor Sarto's place was empty,
everything fell flat.

He still kept up his old habit of working during part of the night.
His neighbour in the seminary would often hear him moving in his room
long after everyone else had retired to rest. "Go to bed, Monsignor,"
he would sometimes call out. "He works ill who works too long."

"Quite true, quite true, Don Francesco," would come the answer; "put
that into practice. Go to bed and sleep well." It was past midnight
before Monsignor Sarto's light went out, and he was up again by four

In 1879 Bishop Zinelli died, and Monsignor Sarto was elected vicar
capitular to administer the diocese while the see remained vacant. He
announced his nomination in characteristic words.

"Called by the votes of my colleagues to administer the diocese of
Treviso in place of him who for so many years has ruled it with such
wisdom, prudence and zeal, I must frankly confess that I have
accepted this heavy burden, not only because I feel assured that they
will help me in my task, but because I know the spirit of the clergy.
That you will earnestly co-operate with me in upholding the most
precious prerogatives of the priesthood I have no doubt. I ask you,
therefore, to remember the words of the Apostle: 'Walk carefully,
that our ministry be not blamed'; let our actions be such that our
enemies shall find nothing in us worthy of reproach. You are full of
zeal for souls: seek to win them rather by love than by fear. The
supreme wish of our Lord for His own was that they should love one
another, and this wish found its fulfilment in apostolic times, when
the Christians were one heart and one soul in Christ. A priest's life
is a continual warfare against evil, which cannot fail to raise up
powerful enemies. In order that they may not prevail against us, let
us be united in charity amongst ourselves; thus we shall be
invincible and strong as a rock."

Monsignor Sarto administered the diocese for less than a year, but in
this short time he accomplished much. Although still spiritual
director of the seminary, he preached oftener in public, his sermons
invariably rousing enthusiasm. In the February of 1880 he was
relieved of this office on the nomination as bishop of Monsignor
Callegari, who was to find in his chancellor a devoted and faithful
friend. The new bishop, however, was destined to remain but a short
time at Treviso. In 1882 he was promoted to Padua, Monsignor
Apollonio succeeding him at Treviso.

In September, 1884, Monsignor Apollonio, who had been making the
pastoral visit of his diocese, returned home rather unexpectedly, and
Monsignor Sarto was not a little surprised at being summoned somewhat
mysteriously to the bishop's private oratory. "Let us kneel before
the Blessed Sacrament," said Monsignor Apollonio gravely, "and pray
about a matter which concerns us both intimately." Still more
astonished, Monsignor Sarto knelt, and the two prelates prayed for a
moment in silence. Then the bishop rose, and, handing a letter to his
companion, bade him read it. Thus did Monsignor Sarto learn his
nomination to the bishopric of Mantua.

The strong man who all his life long had welcomed hardship and
suffering with a cheery smile, wept like a child. He was, he
declared, utterly incapable, quite unworthy of such a trust. The
bishop, who knew better, but whose heart was touched at the sight of
his friend's distress, comforted him as best he could. "It is God's
will," he said; "trust in His help." Convinced, however, in his own
mind that Pope Leo XIII was wholly mistaken in his judgment of him,
Monsignor Sarto wrote to Rome to profess his incapacity and
worthlessness. His arguments were not accepted.

Early in November, amidst enthusiastic demonstrations, the
bishop-elect set out for Rome. At Padua he met with a fresh ovation,
Monsignor Callegari himself came to the station to greet his old
friend and to wish him well. On the evening of the 8th he was
received by Pope Leo, and left his presence consoled and full of
courage as to the future. Consecrated on the 16th, he remained in
Rome for ten days longer, returning on the 29th to Treviso, where he
was to remain for some months before entering on his episcopal charge.

It was during this time that he went one day, accompanied by a
friend, to visit a Venetian city. In the railway carriage were two
gentlemen, who, while conversing on local subjects, touched on the
election of the new bishop of Mantua. They wondered what kind of a
man Monsignor Sarto was; not very intelligent, they feared, nor very
gifted. The bishop-elect, with a sign to his companion to keep quiet,
joined in the conversation, endorsing most heartily everything that
they said in his own disparagement. He then proceeded to contrast the
poor picture he had painted of himself with the qualities that were
necessary for an ideal bishop, and this with such ability and
discernment that his two hearers were greatly impressed. Monsignor
Sarto was the first to leave the carriage.

"Who is that delightful priest?" asked the gentlemen of his
companion, who was preparing to follow.

The latter made a low bow. "Monsignor Sarto, Bishop-elect of Mantua,"
he answered with elaborate irony.

He spent Holy Week and Easter that year with his mother and sisters
at Riese. It was a double festival for his family and the friends of
his childhood who crowded round him. Back again at Treviso, where he
had spent so many happy days, he had not the courage to face a public
farewell. "Read them this letter at dinner," he said to the rector of
the seminary; "tell them I keep them all in my heart, and that they
must pray for me." Then, slipping unnoticed out of the house, he went
to the carriage ordered to wait for him at a little distance, and so
set out for Mantua.

At the station a large crowd had gathered to receive him, priests,
people, representatives of the noble families of the place, and of
the divers associations of town and country. Outside the bishop's
house, in the great square of St. Peter, a multitude of townspeople
were awaiting his arrival. "We want to see our bishop," they cried
tumultuously, and their desire was immediately satisfied. Stepping
out into the balcony which overlooked the square, their new pastor
greeted them with warm affection and gave them his blessing.

Mantua, say the Italians, has always been a fighting city, and in
1885 it was still true to its reputation. Of Etruscan origin, and the
birthplace of Virgil and Sordello, throughout the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries its see had been usually held by members of the
famous family of Gonzaga. The task which lay before the new bishop
was no easy one. There were divisions between clergy and people; the
seminary was almost empty of students; many parishes were without a
priest; no synod had been held within the memory of man. The spirit
in which Monsignor Sarto took up his new work showed itself in his
first pastoral letter to his flock.

"I shall spare myself neither care nor labour nor watchfulness for
the salvation of souls. My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the
weakest by His divine help; I can do all in Him who strengtheneth me!
His power is infinite, and if I lean on Him it will be mine; His
wisdom is infinite, and if I look to Him for counsel I shall not be
deceived; His goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed on Him
I shall not be abandoned. Hope unites me to God and Him to me.
Although I know I am not sufficient for the burden, my strength is in
Him. For the salvation of others I must bear weariness, face dangers,
suffer offences, confront storms, fight against evil. He is my hope."

His first care was the seminary, and in a little more than a year he
was able to write to a friend: "I have a hundred and forty-seven
boarders, young men with healthy appetites who can digest anything
and everything."

The scarcity of priests in the country villages was indeed
disastrous. The bishop lost no time in convoking a synod. "If people
do not hear of God, of the sacraments, and of eternal life," he said
to the priests assembled, "they will soon lose every good feeling,
both civil and social. No difficulty is insurmountable; nothing is
impossible to those who will and those who love." The difficulty that
at that moment seemed most insurmountable was the want of money. The
hundred and forty-seven young men required feeding, and the seminary
was poor. The bishop sold the few fields at Riese that were all he
possessed to meet the immediate need, and others, stirred by his zeal
and eloquence, came forward to help him.

A thorough visitation of the diocese enabled Monsignor Sarto to
understand its needs more fully. He liked to hear both sides of every
question, and asked everyone to be perfectly frank with him in
discussing both good and evil. "Joy shared is joy doubled," he would
say, "and grief imparted becomes easier to bear." An old man who came
one day was received with such kindness that, concluding he had to do
with the bishop's secretary, he talked to him at great length about a
little personal affair. "Can I believe you?" he asked wistfully, as
the kind priest assured him that all would be right.

"What!" was the answer, "can you not trust your bishop?"

In order that the pastoral visitation might be no burden on the
country priests, whose life was a continual struggle with poverty, he
ordered that no preparations whatever were to be made for his
reception. Nothing extra was to be provided; he would share with them
what they had. Instead of a demonstration at the station, he begged
that the people might gather in the churches for Mass and communion.
"That is the greatest honour they can do me," he said; "that will be
my greatest reward. I desire no useless pomp, but the salvation of

One of his first acts was to write to the mayor of the city to ask
his assistance, thus holding out the right hand of fellowship to the
civil authority, and enlisting it in his behalf. "Your new bishop,"
ran the letter, "poor in everything else, but rich in love for his
flock, has no other object than to work for the salvation of souls
and to form among you one family of friends and brothers." The
question of church and state, then a thorny one in Italy, had not of
late years found a happy solution in Mantua. This gracious act of the
new bishop was the first step towards a better understanding. He
interested himself much in social questions; and it was through his
efforts that the first Italian social congress was held at Piacenza
in 1890. He understood the power of the press, and started a
flourishing paper called the _Citizen of Mantua_.

As at Tombolo, at Salzano, and at Treviso, so at Mantua was the
teaching of Christian doctrine one of the bishop's first cares.
Schools and confraternities were established everywhere throughout
the diocese, and on his pastoral visits he would catechize the
children himself to see that they were properly instructed in the
faith. Parents who would not allow their children to attend were
threatened with severe penalties; on this subject the bishop, so
gentle towards sorrow and suffering, was stern and inflexible. The
children's souls were at stake, he said, and he would not see their
birthright withheld from them. He insisted that church music should
be decorous and religious, and that the Gregorian chant should be
used when possible.

The bishop's day was a strenuous one. At five he celebrated Mass in
his private chapel, and, his thanksgiving ended, went straight to his
confessional in the cathedral. After breakfast of black coffee and a
mouthful of bread, he began the oft-interrupted day's work, for he
would have no set hours for receiving visits. Those who wanted him
were admitted at any hour, and received with the most genial
kindness. "No matter with what faces they go in," it was said of his
visitors, "they always come out smiling--that is, unless they have
done something dreadful." On these occasions Bishop Sarto could
scorch the offender with words of fire, but at the first sign of
repentance he was ready to forgive, to lift up the sinner and set him
on the right road. Towards evening he would take a walk in the town,
speaking familiarly to all he met. At nine he said the rosary with
his household, after which he worked or studied till midnight.

St. Anselm of Lucca, friend of Gregory VII, and, like him, inspired
with holy zeal for the reform of the clergy, is the patron saint of
Mantua. In 1886 his centenary was celebrated with great splendour in
the cathedral where he lies buried. Nor did the tercentenary of St.
Aloysius Gonzaga, whose family was one of Mantua's olden glories,
pass without special honour. A stirring address was given by the
bishop himself to the young men, of whom St. Aloysius was the special

"Religion has no fear of science," said Monsignor Sarto, attacking
one of the most popular fallacies of the day; "Christianity does not
tremble before discussion, but before ignorance. Tertullian
proclaimed as much to the emperors of Rome. 'One thing,' he said,
'our faith demands: not to be condemned before it be known,' and it
is this that I ask of you, young men, not to condemn religion before
you have studied it." Pilgrimages were inaugurated to the birthplace
of the saint at Castiglione; a mission was preached to the boys and
young men of the district; processions were held. The celebration of
the festival did a great deal of good in the diocese, impressing as
it did upon the people the fact that the best way to honour their
saints was by following in their footsteps.

In 1887 the sacerdotal jubilee of Pope Leo XIII was celebrated
throughout the world. The words in which the Bishop of Mantua
announced the approaching celebration to his flock found an echo in
every Catholic heart. "The moment has come," he said, "to prove to
the great Vicar of Christ our unchanging affection and fidelity. For
us Leo XIII is the guardian of the Holy Scriptures, the interpreter
of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, the supreme dispenser of the
treasures of the Church, the head of the Catholic religion, the chief
shepherd of souls, the infallible teacher, the secure guide, who
directs us on our way through a world wrapped in darkness and the
shadow of death. All the strength of the Church is in the pope; all
the foundations of our faith are based on the successor of Peter.
Those who wish her ill assault the papacy in every possible way; they
cut themselves adrift from the Church, and try their best to make the
pope an object of hatred and contempt. The more they endeavour to
weaken our faith and our attachment to the head of the Church, the
more closely let us draw to him through the public testimony of our
faith, our obedience and our veneration."

The fame of the zeal and piety of the Bishop of Mantua soon spread
beyond the bounds of his own diocese. His conspicuous merit and
ability had not escaped the vigilant eye of Leo XIII, who had marked
him out for higher dignity still. "If the Mantuans do not love their
new bishop," he had said on the appointment of Monsignor Sarto, "they
will love no one."

But the Mantuans were not so hard of heart, and the quarrelsome city,
in the hands of one who, like his Master, was meek and humble of
heart, had become a city of peace.



In the consistory of June 12, 1893, Pope Leo XIII named Bishop Sarto
cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, and three days later appointed him
archbishop and patriarch of Venice.[*] On June 7 the bishop had set
out for Rome, and on the 15th, in the presence of representatives
from Venice, Treviso, Mantua and Riese, he received the cardinal's
hat, with the title of San Bernardo alle Terme. The wisdom and
modesty of the new cardinal, added to his charm of manner, won him
many friends during his stay in Rome. For sixteen months Cardinal
Sarto was unable to take possession of his see; for the Italian
government, having claimed the right to nominate the patriarch,
refused to sanction his appointment; and the municipality of Venice,
which was largely anti-clerical, was only too glad of a pretext to
show hostility to the Church.

[*] Patriarch is an honorary title. The only real patriarch in the
Western Church is the pope himself.

The cardinal's first visit after his return from Rome was to his
mother at Riese. At one of the stations on the way thither he was met
by a deputation of his old friends the Tombolani, headed by their
parish priest. Quite forgetting in their joy the respect due to a
prince of the Church, the simple peasants rushed at their old curate,
shouting vociferously, "Don Giuseppe! Don Giuseppe!" The cardinal,
pleased with their enthusiasm, laughed and greeted his old friends
with much affection.

All the bells were ringing in Riese as he entered it; all the people,
young and old, were there to meet him and to escort him, the centre
of a laughing, weeping, shouting crowd, to the church. Everyone was
at Benediction, and when old friends had been greeted and good wishes
given and received, the greatest joy of all was still to come--the
meeting in the little home of his childhood, where Margherita had her
son at last to herself. Next morning the cardinal preached to the
people, thanking them for their welcome, and speaking of all the
precious memories that centred for him round the altar where he had
made his first communion and offered his first Mass. The day was
spent in receiving visits; there was a kind word of greeting for new
friends, and a still kinder word of remembrance for the old.

Early next day, having vested in his scarlet _cappa magna_, Cardinal
Sarto went to his mother's room and, standing beside her bed, showed
himself in all the glory of the "sacred purple." Margherita wept with
joy; but there were tears of sorrow before night. It was the last day
at Riese, and although neither of them knew it, that parting kiss was
to be the last on this side of the grave. The old mother clung to her
son with a passionate tenderness as he clasped her frail figure in
his arms. She was eighty years old, and at that age partings are
hard. A few months later the sorrowful news of her death reached the
cardinal, now back at Mantua and busy with his episcopal duties. The
joy of the last meeting and the grief of the last parting had been
too much for the old mother's heart.

In September 1894 the government gave way at last, and the
_exequatur_ or confirmation of the papal bull arrived. A few weeks
later Cardinal Sarto pontificated for the last time in the cathedral
of Mantua, and, bidding a loving farewell to the diocese where he had
laboured so long and so strenuously, set out for Venice.

For years a government hostile to religion had waged relentless war
on the Church in Italy. Laws had been passed forbidding religious
teaching in the schools; charitable works had been "laicized": in
other words, the goods of religious fraternities and charitable
societies had been confiscated by the state, the revenues of
bishoprics had been refused to prelates appointed by the pope, and
rights of patronage had been claimed by the government over many
sees. The result was soon to be seen in a growing materialism in all
ranks of society.

"God is driven out of politics by this theory of the separation of
church and state," wrote the new patriarch in his first letter to his
flock. "He is driven out of learning by systematized doubt; from art
by the degrading influence of realism; from law by a morality which
is guided by the senses alone; from the schools by the abolition of
religious instruction; from Christian marriage, which they want to
deprive of the grace of the sacrament; from the cottage of the poor
peasant, who disdains the help of Him who alone can make his hard
life bearable; from the palaces of the rich, who no longer fear the
eternal Judge who will one day ask from them an account of their
stewardship. . . . We must fight this great contemporary error, the
enthronement of man in the place of God. The solution of this, as of
all other problems, lies in the Church and the teaching of the

The Venetian people were determined to show their new pastor that the
representatives of the government were not the representatives of
popular feeling. Amidst the decorations which adorned the town, the
municipal buildings alone remained untouched; amongst the crowds that
gathered to meet the patriarch, the members of the municipality were
conspicuously absent. The people resolved on an ovation the like of
which had never before been seen. As the patriarch entered the launch
that had been sent to receive him, the bells of all the towers in the
City of the Sea rang out a joyous welcome; from every balcony and
bridge came bursts of cheering, while a closely packed and
enthusiastic crowd occupied every available space along the route. At
the prow of the launch stood Cardinal Sarto in all the splendour of
scarlet robes, a noble manly figure, full of dignity and sweetness,
blessing the crowd with the winning smile that was characteristic of

On the following morning in St. Mark's, having listened to the
congratulatory speeches addressed to him, the cardinal turned to the
people, and in the breathless silence that followed, his clear voice
rang out to the farthest recesses of the cathedral.

"I should be ashamed," he said, "to be the object of such honour, did
I not know that it is offered, not to my poor person, but to Jesus
Christ, whose representative I am and in whose name I come among you.
You wish to show that you see in me your bishop, your father, and
your patriarch, and I am bound to love you in return. When Jesus
Christ gave to St. Peter the charge of His sheep and of His lambs, He
asked him three times for the assurance of his love, thus giving him
to understand that love is the greatest necessity for a shepherd of
souls. From this moment I gather you all into my heart; I love you
with a strong and supernatural love, desiring but the good of your
souls. For you are all my family--priests, citizens, great and small,
rich and poor. My heart and my love are yours, and from you I ask
nothing but the same love in return. My only desire is that you
should say of me, 'Our patriarch is a man of upright intention, who
holds high the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ, who seeks only to
defend the truth and to do good.' And since God has raised me, a son
of the people, to this high dignity, He will certainly give me the
strength and the grace necessary for so great a mission. It is the
duty of a bishop to proclaim God's truth, to interpret it to the
people; and I look upon it as a holy duty to speak frankly in its
defence. I am ready to make any sacrifice for the salvation of souls.
You who have zeal for the things of God, work with me, help me, and
God will give us the grace that is necessary to achieve our ends."

The Venetians were deeply moved; they felt that their new patriarch
was a truly apostolic man, and the impression only gathered strength
as time went on. The doors of his house were always open to anyone,
rich or poor, who wished to speak to the patriarch; the troubles of
the least of his flock were his own. He threw himself with all his
heart into every movement for the bettering of the condition of the
poor, often settling, by his tact and zeal, bitter disputes between
capital and labour. The municipality was, as we have seen,
anti-clerical. He rallied the Catholic forces with such success that
within a year they prevailed. For he knew the way to obtain his ends;
and while throwing into the struggle the whole influence of his
forceful personality, he inaugurated throughout the diocese, before
and during the elections, a regular crusade of prayer. Wherever he
went, peace and reconciliation followed. "Possessed of much sweetness
and charm of manner," wrote one who knew him, "and uniting a certain
stateliness and dignity with a graceful address and a delightful
sense of humour, he preached the gospel of personal culture, putting
cleanliness next to godliness, and good manners next to good morals,
himself setting the example in these things."

As at Mantua and at Treviso, he insisted strongly on religious
instruction for all classes. Ignorance of Christian teaching, he
said, was the great defect of the times, and very many evils sprang
from this alone. Many who were learned in secular sciences were
deplorably ignorant of the truths of their faith. Preachers were apt
to take too much for granted that their congregations were well
instructed, and on this account their sermons bore little fruit.

"There is too much preaching and too little teaching," said the
patriarch; "put aside these flowery and elaborate discourses, and
preach to the people plainly and simply on the eternal truths of
faith and on the teaching of the Gospel. Think of the good of souls
rather than of the impression you are making. The people are
thirsting for truth; give them what they need for their souls'
health, for this is the first duty of a priest."

He insisted on religious instruction for adults as well as children,
but reminded his priests that all these things require study,
preparation and prayer. As nothing pertaining to the dignity of the
priesthood was small in his eyes, he insisted that the clergy should
be tidy in dress and scrupulously clean. He mixed freely with the
people, often stopping to talk to those he met in friendly and
familiar fashion. The Venetians loved him dearly. "There goes our
dear patriarch," they would say, "intent on some good. God bless him
and the mother who bore him." His home life was as simple as ever,
and his charities as great. His two sisters and his niece kept house
for him. His steward had to put him on an allowance, so unmeasured
was his almsgiving, and it was said that the episcopal ring of the
chief pastor of Venice was more than once in pawn.

"Times are changed," said an old friend who was visiting him, as the
cardinal pulled out a gold watch from his pocket. "Do you remember
the silver one which was always going to the pawnbroker at Tombolo?"

The patriarch looked ruefully at the watch. "The person who gave it
me," he said, laughing, "had the unfortunate inspiration to get the
patriarchal arms engraved on the back!"

"I am so sorry to have to send you such a wretched sum," he wrote to
a priest in Mantua who had applied to him for money for some charity;
"I was poor at Mantua, but here I am a perfect beggar. Take what I
send in the same spirit, and forgive me."

The diocesan visitation begun soon after his arrival in Venice was no
small affair, and took several months to accomplish. "We appreciate
greatly the zeal and charity of our patriarch," said the people, "but
we are praying that he may sometimes think a little of himself; for
such men are precious, and we want to keep him as long as we can." As
at Mantua, he begged that there might be as little pomp and ceremony
as possible, and that no extraordinary preparations might be made in
the different parishes for his arrival. With quick intuition he saw
at a glance exactly what was needed in the way of reform or
development, and at the synod which followed showed a perfect
knowledge of the requirements of the archdiocese.

The eucharistic congress in Venice which took place in August, 1898,
was prompted and carried out by the zeal and energy of Patriarch
Sarto, who spared no pains to make it a success. Inaugurated as a
reparation for the many sacrileges offered to Jesus Christ in the
Blessed Sacrament, its aim was to stimulate the faith of the people
and to arouse in them a greater love for this mystery of their faith.
Each parish was to take its part in the celebration, the whole
congress being carefully organized by the cardinal himself. "The
heart of man," he said, "is inconstant in good; it grows cold and
careless if it is not stirred up to action from time to time."
Conferences were held and missions preached in many of the Venetian
churches to prepare the people. The bells of all the city rang out to
announce the beginning of the congress, which opened with a
magnificent procession to St. Mark's. The inaugural address was
preached by Cardinal Svampa, Archbishop of Bologna; and on the
following day the patriarch himself addressed the people.

"Jesus is our king," he said, "and we delight to honour as our king
Him whom the world dishonours and disowns. We, His true subjects,
offer our true homage to Christ the King; the warmth of our love
shall be greater than the coldness of the world. We meet around the
tabernacle where Jesus remains in our midst until the end of time;
there faith springs up anew in our hearts, while the fire of His
charity--the very fire that He came to cast upon the earth--burns
within us. The object of this eucharistic congress is to make
reparation to our Lord Jesus Christ for the insults offered to Him in
the Blessed Sacrament; to pray that His thoughts may be in our minds,
His charity in our institutions, His justice in our laws, His worship
in our religion, His life in our lives."

On the afternoon of the third day the final procession was one of the
most magnificent of all the magnificent pageants ever seen in the
City of the Sea, even in the days when the doge went in solemn state
to wed the Adriatic. Cardinal Svampa carried the monstrance, while
before and after him went cardinals in scarlet, bishops in cope and
mitre, religious orders, the confraternities with their banners and
insignia, hierarchs and priests of the Byzantine and Armenian rites
in their vestments. "Splendid as a dream," wrote one who was present,
"it seemed as if the very Greek saints had stepped out of the mosaics
in the cathedral to be present at the solemn passage of Christ in
their midst."

Cardinal Sarto had not been long at Venice before he determined on a
thorough reform of church music. He summoned Don Lorenzo Perosi, a
young cleric whom he had known at Mantua and a skilled musician.
Music, said the patriarch, was intended to excite the faithful to
devotion and to help them to pray: the music in vogue did neither.
The fearful and wonderful performances of string orchestras, dear to
the hearts of many, were banned, as was the use of drums, trumpets,
tambourines and whistles. No instrument but the organ was to be used
in the churches, and even that was to be subordinate. The words of
the Mass were to be sung to the Gregorian chant with solemnity and
dignity, and by men and boys alone. That the change was not
acceptable in all quarters was hardly to be wondered at. The operatic
efforts of loud-voiced ladies singing the _O Salutaris_ during Mass
to the air of the Serenade from _Faust_, or a Creed that was like the
Brigands' Chorus from an opera, still found many admirers.

Nevertheless, when a Mass of Palestrina was sung under the leadership
of Perosi for the first time in the cathedral of St. Mark, the
Venetians realized the difference. "Enchantingly beautiful," they
said. But it was uphill work, and Don Lorenzo would have lost heart
altogether had it not been for the support and encouragement of his
holy patron.

One of the poorest of the island parishes of Venice was Burano, which
in ancient times had been famous for its point lace. The cardinal,
moved by the misery of its inhabitants, determined to revive the
industry; but only one old woman remained who knew the art. A
benevolent lady, persuaded to interest herself in the work, got the
old woman to teach her, started a school of lace workers, and soon
had six hundred girls in training. Clubs were started for young men
and boys, not only here, but in many other parishes. There was no
difficulty, no misery for which the patriarch did not try to find a
cure. He had the art of giving without offending people whose decent
appearance covered a poverty often more bitter in that it had to be
hidden. He went one day to see a friend who had fallen on evil times,
and who was in dire need of help. "I am so sorry," said the
patriarch, "I have absolutely nothing left, but take this," giving
him an exquisite ivory crucifix which had been given him as a
present; "it is valuable, and will realize a good sum."

Although unflinchingly firm in everything that concerned the faith
and the rights of the Church, the frank courtesy of Patriarch Sarto
and his conciliating spirit kept him always on good terms with the
government. He bade his priests and people respect all lawfully
constituted authority, recognizing that "the powers that be are
ordained of God." "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's,
and unto God the things that are God's," he would often say. When
King Humbert of Italy was assassinated he ordered that a requiem
should be sung for him in St. Mark's; and when the widowed queen came
to Venice for rest and change of air, he visited and consoled her
with the most heartfelt sympathy. "The restoration of society in
Christ is the only cure for all the world's evils," he would
constantly repeat. "No good is good which is not rooted and founded
in Christ." He had the gift of inspiring others and rallying them to
his own charitable schemes, filling them with a fire and energy like
his own.

The 14th of July, 1902, was a day of grief for Venice. The great
campanile of St. Mark's, which had stood for centuries watching over
the glories of the City of the Sea, crumbled and fell in ruins. The
universal lamentations were changed, by order of the patriarch, into
thanksgivings that no one had been injured, and that the cathedral
itself had not suffered. The reconstruction of the campanile was
immediately determined on, and on the 25th of April, 1903, the feast
day of the evangelist and patron saint of Venice, the first stone was
laid. The square of St. Mark was a sea of heads; every window and
balcony was crowded. The Duke of Turin, a prince of the house of
Savoy, was present as the representative of the king, who had
contributed generously to the reconstruction fund. The cardinal stood
opposite him. Church and state were face to face, with the memory of
all that had passed since the beginning of the Italian Revolution
between them. Was conciliation possible? It might have seemed that
day that it was--that in charity and justice lay the solution. The
cardinal's tact and courtesy on this occasion, as on so many others,
put everybody at ease, and his discourse won the admiration of all.

"It is a good and beautiful thing," he said, "for men to ask God's
blessing on their work. The genius of man is at its highest when it
bows before the Light Eternal. I rejoice, therefore, with you, most
noble representatives of Venice, that, as faithful interpreters of
public opinion, you have decided that the rebuilding of our beloved
campanile must be inaugurated with a solemn act of religious worship.
I rejoice that you have shown yourselves worthy sons of your Venetian
forefathers, who, knowing well that 'unless the Lord build the house,
their labour is in vain that build it,' began no enterprise without
asking God's blessing and the protection of His Virgin Mother in
their work." After having shown that all the glory of medieval Venice
sprang from her faith and her religion, he turned to the Duke of
Turin and the other illustrious guests with a word of thanks for
their presence. "A man of personal fascination and splendid
presence," wrote a member of the French government who was there,
"with handsome open face and strong clear-cut features, softened by
eyes in which shines the light of perpetual youth. Nothing proud
about him, nothing obsequious, his manner with the Duke of Turin was
perfect, that of a man who is completely at his ease."

Prince of the Church as he was, he was always ready to fulfil the
duties of a simple parish priest. He would carry holy communion to
the sick, hear confessions, give retreats in the churches of the
diocese, and visit the prisons, the hospitals and the reformatories,
preaching to their inmates and comforting all their sorrows. The
religious orders were amongst the most favoured of his children; he
was always ready to visit them on their feast days, and loved and
esteemed their work. Both saint and sinner found in him a kindly
strength and simple goodness which set them at their ease at once.
The very sight of his face was a welcome; there was no affectation of
piety or austerity which might repel or frighten anyone; no one could
feel stiff or awkward in his presence, all shyness and reserve gave
way before his gentle manner.

An intimate friend of the cardinal, who was staying with him, asked
one day if he might celebrate Mass at an early hour next morning, as
he had to catch a train. "Why not?" was the answer, "I will see that
all is ready for you."

What was the astonishment of the priest when he went to the
cardinal's private chapel at an early hour to find his host himself
preparing for the Mass.

"But who will serve?" asked the celebrant.

"I," answered the cardinal very simply.

"Eminence!" protested his guest, quite aghast at the suggestion.

"What!" he exclaimed, smiling, "do you imagine that a prelate of my
rank does not know how to serve Mass? A fine idea you have of the
princes of the Church!"

He hated ostentation of any kind and would often travel about the
country incognito. He was going one day to the convent of the Sisters
of Charity at Crespano when, feeling sure that at Bassano, where he
had to get out, there would be an ovation, he wrote to a friend
telling him that two Venetian priests going to Crespano who did not
know the country would be glad if a carriage could be sent to meet
them at the station. The train arrived, and the two priests made
their way to a ramshackle little carriage which was standing outside.
The friend, who was waiting to do the honours to the cardinal's
priests, came forward eagerly, and was just about to greet the elder
of the two when he recognized the patriarch. "Your Eminence!" he
stammered, utterly taken aback; but the cardinal, finger on lips in
warning, jumped into the carriage followed by his companion, and
drove away. Little did he guess that the time was close at hand when
his desire to be unnoticed could nevermore be fulfilled, when he who
loved to take the lowest place was to be obliged to take the highest
in the world.



The news of the death of Leo XIII, on July 20, 1903, came as a blow
to the whole Catholic world. The old man of ninety-four, whose
wonderful intelligence had remained unimpaired until the very end of
his life, had guided the bark of Peter with sure and unswerving hand
during the twenty-live years of his pontificate. His blameless life,
his lofty ideas, and his indomitable moral courage have been borne
witness to by men who had small sympathy for the Catholic Church.
"The original attitude of Leo XIII towards the new social forces,"
wrote the _Quarterly Review_, "will make his pontificate a memorable
epoch, not only in the history of the Roman Church, but in that of
all Christian countries. His personal conception of the duties of the
Church towards the labouring classes was catholic in the broadest and
best sense of the term. It was such a conception as befitted the
chief pastor of Christendom." And this was only one side of the
activity of the great statesman and pope who had passed away. "Pray
that God may send to His Church a shepherd after His own heart," said
Cardinal Sarto when he announced to his people at Venice the news of
the pope's death. Little did he think how that prayer was to be
answered. Yet Leo XIII himself not long before his death had said to
an intimate friend, "If the conclave chooses a cardinal not resident
in Rome, it is Cardinal Sarto who will be elected."

The announcement of the death of Leo was sent to all the cardinals
throughout the world, with the intimation that the conclave for the
election of his successor would be held on the 31st of July. It was
not until the 26th that Cardinal Sarto was able to set out. He
laughed at the apprehensions of his sisters that he might not come
back to them. His secretary, Don Giovanni Bressan, was busy putting
together what was necessary for the journey. "Where is Don Giovanni?"
asked the cardinal of his niece Amalia. "Go and tell him that a
journey to Rome is not a journey to America."

"Get the conclave over and come back quickly," said Amalia.

"Sooner or later," replied the Cardinal, "it does not matter. In the
meantime you go to Possagno for a change of air and I will pick you
up on my way back." But the sisters were sad, and refused to be

The whole city turned out to greet the patriarch as the gondola made
its way to the station; from every balcony and bridge good wishes and
farewells followed him. At the station there was a regular ovation,
poor and rich crowded round him to kiss his ring or catch a word from
his lips. With tears in his eyes he thanked them for that
demonstration of affection, and for the love they bore him.

"One more blessing! one more blessing!" pleaded the people, "who
knows if you will ever come back?"

"Alive or dead, I shall come back," was the answer.

The train began to move, and from its window Cardinal Sarto
unknowingly looked his last on his beloved Venice; it was good-bye
for ever.[*] He had written to the Lombard College for rooms, and
there he remained until the opening of the conclave. A Venetian lady
who lived at Rome, having come to see him, expressed a polite wish
that he would be the new pope. Cardinal Sarto laughed. "It is
sufficient honour," he replied, "that God should make use of such as
I to elect the pope."

[*] The story that he had taken a return ticket does not seem to be
true but he planned to return to Venice immediately after the
coronation of the new pope.

A French cardinal (Lecot of Bordeaux) who did not know him spoke to
him one day. "Your Eminence is an Italian archbishop?" he asked.

"I do not speak French," replied Cardinal Sarto, in Latin; "I am the
patriarch of Venice."

"Ah! if you do not speak French," answered his questioner, "you will
not be eligible for the papacy."

"Thank God, no," was the answer; "I am not eligible for the papacy."

"I think the election will be quickly over," said Cardinal Sarto to
an Italian journalist who came to visit him in Rome. "The pope will
probably be elected at the second scrutiny."

"I venture to disagree with your Eminence," was the reply, "and on
these grounds. I hope--for I think it is permissible--for a cardinal
who resides in his diocese. Not that the cardinals of the curia are
wanting in breadth or in experience, but as a rule those prelates who
live in the provinces are in immediate contact with the people. They
have a better chance of seeing things from the inside than those who
occupy an official post in Rome, important and indispensable though
these may be. But of necessity the non-resident cardinals are less
well known in Rome than those of the curia, their candidature must
therefore be slower and the election longer."

The election of a pope is one of the most solemn deeds of the Church,
and is safeguarded by strict regulations. On the death of the pontiff
the Cardinal Chamberlain, as representative of the Sacred College,
assumes charge of the papal household, notifying to all the cardinals
of the Church the death of the pope and the impending election. Every
cardinal has the right to vote in the conclave, but he must be
present in person to do so. Each one may take with him a secretary,
who is generally a priest, and a servant. In the meanwhile a large
portion of the Vatican palace has been walled off and divided into
apartments or cells for the conclavists. Access to it can be had
through one door alone, which is left open until the conclave begins,
when it is closed and barred from without by the Marshal of the
Conclave, and from within by the Cardinal Chamberlain. All
communication with the outside world is then at an end until the
result of the election is announced.

The conclave opens officially (now) not later than eighteen days
after the pope's death. The cardinals assist at Mass and receive holy
communion from the hands of the Cardinal Dean, who solemnly adjures
them to elect as pope him whom they believe to be the most worthy.
They assemble in the Sistine Chapel, where the actual voting takes
place. The stall of each cardinal has a canopy overhead and a small
writing-desk in front. The door is shut and bolted and the voting
begins. Each cardinal having written the name of his candidate on the
paper provided, deposits it in a chalice on the altar, taking as he
does so the required oath: "I call to witness the Lord Christ, who
will be my judge, that I am electing the one whom before God I think
ought to be elected." The ballots are then counted and read aloud,
and if no candidate has received the necessary number of votes, they
are burnt in a little stove together with a handful of damp straw. As
the chimney of this stove extends through a window of the chapel, the
colour of the smoke or _sfumata_ can be clearly seen by those
outside. Not until the election is made are the ballots burnt without
the accompanying straw, when the clear white smoke is the first
notification to the people that the pope is elected. Voting takes
place twice a day, morning and evening, until a majority of
two-thirds of the votes has been attained.

The _veto_ was the alleged right of certain Catholic rulers to object
to the election of a cardinal of whom they do not approve. It was
exercised rarely and has never been formally approved by the Church.
Although Pius IX had forbidden any interference by the secular power
in a papal election, an attempt was made to exercise the _veto_ at
the conclave which resulted in the election of Pius X. At the third
scrutiny, in which Cardinal Rampolla came first with twenty-nine
votes, Cardinal Puzyna, Bishop of Cracow, who had accepted the
mandate of the Austrian government in the name of the Emperor Francis
Joseph, read (it is said after signs of severe embarrassment) a
declaration excluding Cardinal Rampolla, without giving any reason
for the exclusion.

The cardinals protested against the interference, and the votes in
Cardinal Rampolla's favour were found to have increased by one in the
evening scrutiny. But Cardinal Sarto's had been mounting steadily
from the beginning and continued to do so until they reached the
number of fifty.[*]

[*] The opinions of those best qualified to judge seem to agree that
Cardinal Rampolla's failure to be elected was quite uninfluenced by
the Austrian action. Soon after his election Pius X definitively
abolished the exercise of the veto.

At five o'clock on the 31st of July the Cardinals, sixty-three in
all, assembled at the Vatican. At nightfall the last door was closed
and bricked up; the conclave had begun. At the first scrutiny
Cardinal Rampolla had twenty-four votes, Cardinal Gotti seven, and
Cardinal Sarto five. There was nothing alarming in this; but when, at
the second scrutiny, the votes in favour of the Patriarch of Venice
had doubled, and at the third doubled again, it was another matter,
and his anguish was obvious to all. With trembling voice and tears in
his eyes, he spoke to the Cardinals, begging them to give up all
thought of him. "I am unworthy, I am not qualified," he pleaded,
"forget me."

"It was that very adjuration, his grief, his profound humility and
wisdom," said Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, "that made us think of
him all the more; we learnt to know him from his words as we could
never have known him by hearsay." The voting continued. In the
evening of the second day Cardinal Sarto, who at the last scrutiny
had obtained twenty-four votes, on returning to his room found
several of his colleagues who had come to beg him not to refuse the
burden if God should call upon him to bear it. "I was one of those
who went to visit him in his cell in the evening, to try to induce
him to accept," said the American cardinal. "Those who had gone
before had shaken his resistance, so that I almost hoped he would
resign himself to what seemed to be inevitable." On the third day the
votes for Cardinal Sarto went on increasing, until on the morning of
the fourth day fifty out of the sixty-two were in his favour, eight
more than the forty-two required for a valid election.

They asked him if he would accept, but he had already accepted in his
heart after a most grievous inward struggle. "I accept," he said,
with tears.

"What name will you take?" they asked him. "I will be called Pius,"
he replied.

Pale and trembling, he was clothed in the white cassock, the ring was
placed on his finger, and he was led to the throne to receive the
obedience of the cardinals. When at last the pope returned to his
cell he remained for long in prayer before the crucifix. The faithful
servant who had come with him from Venice begged him several times in
vain to take some food. At last he rose, and, turning to his
secretary, Monsignor Bressan, with something of his old serenity:
"Come," he said, "it is the will of God."

Immediately after his election, when leaving the balcony from which
he had given his first blessing inside St. Peter's, Pius X expressed
his wish to go and visit Cardinal Herrero y Espinosa, Archbishop of
Valencia, an old man eighty years of age who was lying sick in his
cell. He had been taken ill a few days before and had received the
last sacraments. The pope blessed and prayed over him. Three days
later the man for whom the doctors had declared there was little hope
was well enough to get up. He returned soon after to Spain, cured, as
he himself always declared, by the prayer of Pius X.

The news of the election was received with joy in Italy. Outside of
that country Pius X was little known. "What kind of a pope will he
be?" was the question on many lips. The world had not long to wait
for the answer. Two months had scarcely passed before his first
encyclical letter rang through the Catholic world.

"It matters not to tell with what tears and earnest prayers we sought
to avoid this appalling burden of the pontifical office," he begins.
"We could not be other than disturbed at being appointed the
successor of one who, after having most wisely ruled the Church for
well-nigh six-and-twenty years, showed such power of genius and so
shone with virtue that even adversaries were constrained to admire

Going straight to the heart of the world's unrest, the pope lays bare
the cause of the disease--"the falling away from and forsaking God,
than which there is nothing more nearly allied to perdition. As,
borne up by God's might, we set our hand to the work of withstanding
this great evil, we proclaim that in bearing the pontifical office
this is our one purpose, 'to restore all things in Christ, so that
Christ may be all in all'." Beautiful words, which embody the
teaching and the work of a lifetime spent in God's service. No empty
ideal either, but the one that Giuseppe Sarto had set steadfastly
before himself from the very day of his consecration to the
priesthood, to which he had devoted himself strenuously ever since.

He foresaw the hostile judgments that were to be expected from
certain quarters on every action of the head of the Catholic Church.
"There will be some, assuredly, who, measuring divine things by those
that are human, will study our mind to wrest it to earthly ends and
the aims of parties. To cut off this vain hope of theirs, we affirm
in all truth that in human society we desire to be nothing, and by
the help of God we will be nothing, but the minister of God whose
authority we bear. God's cause is our cause, to which we are
determined to devote all our strength and life itself Therefore, if
any ask of us a token to show forth the purpose of our mind, we shall
ever give this one alone--'to restore all things in Christ'."

"To this, therefore," he continues later, speaking of the evils that
follow on the forsaking of God, "must we direct all our efforts, to
bring the race of men under the dominion of Christ; when once this is
done, it will have already returned to God Himself. How many are
there," he laments, "that hate Christ and abhor the Church and the
Gospel through ignorance rather than perversity, of whom you may
rightly say that 'they blaspheme whatever things they know not'; and
this is to be found not only in the common people, but among the
cultured and even those who enjoy no mean learning. It cannot be
agreed that faith is quenched by the growth of science: it is more
truly quenched by want of knowledge." Speaking of those who are
hostile to the Church, "Why may we not hope," he says, "that the fire
of Christian charity will dissipate the darkness, and bring them 'the
light and peace of God'? Charity is never wearied by waiting."

"A 'shepherd of souls' was the verdict of the Catholic world on
reading the encyclical. 'Gentle and strong' was the judgement of a
well-known American bishop. But there was another side to the
character of the pope which later on became evident. 'Pius X,' wrote
one who had known him intimately at Venice, 'is a man of keen
intelligence, and of great culture, thoroughly well up in the
philosophy, literature, and social movements of the times'." But
first and foremost a shepherd of souls. The world was right in its

One of the first actions of the new pope was to order the
distribution of four thousand pounds amongst the poor of Rome, and
half that amount amongst the poor of Venice. "Is it not rather a
large sum?" suggested the almoner respectfully, "considering the
actual state of things?"

"Where is your trust in God's Providence?" asked Pius, and the money
was given.

He could no longer go to his beloved poor, but word was given that
they should come to him. Sunday after Sunday they were gathered,
parish by parish, in the courts of the Vatican to hear from the lips
of the pope himself a simple sermon on the gospel of the day. "Love
God, and lead good Christian lives," such was the burden of his
teaching; but there was more teaching still in the warm welcome that
awaited them, in the tender charity that shone forth in every word
and movement. "Sweet Christ on earth," was what St. Catherine of
Siena loved to call the successor of St. Peter. Surely the name must
have often come to the lips of those whose privilege it was to be
much in the presence of Pius X.



With a firm and sure hand the new pope had traced out the programme
of his pontificate--the restoring of all things in Christ. It was not
the first time he had used these words. We have already seen how as
parish priest, bishop and patriarch they had been ever in his
thoughts as the ideal and the aim of the sacerdotal life. The time
had come when from the chair of Peter he was to set them before the
world as the remedy for all its evils, calling on the faithful
children of the Church to help in the great work.

Not only had he pointed out the evils to be dealt with, but the means
of dealing with them. Earnest prayer, the formation of a learned,
zealous and devout priesthood, religious instruction for the adult as
well as for the child, wise efforts to ameliorate the condition of
the poor and deal with the social question, Christian charity towards
both friends and enemies, the faithful keeping of the commandments of
God, the frequent use of the sacraments--thus was the "restoring of
all things in Christ" to be accomplished.

All his life Pope Pius X had been a strenuous worker. At sixty-eight
he was still a hale and vigorous man. He rose early, making an hour's
meditation and reciting his Office before saying Mass, which he did
usually at six o'clock. The day's work was carefully planned so that
no time might be lost. A born organizer, the pope soon acquainted
himself thoroughly with all that concerned the administration of the
government of the Church and set on foot several necessary reforms in
the work of the different congregations. Practical, punctual and
exact in all his undertakings, he required that others should be the
same. There was not a question of the day in which his quick
intelligence did not take a lively interest.

"He is a wonderful listener," said a French statesman who had an
audience with him in the early days of his pontificate. "He grasps
the matter under discussion quickly and completely, going straight to
the point, which he sums up in a few precise words. To my mind he
possesses the qualities of a true statesman as much as Leo XIII. He
sees in one comprehensive glance what is possible and what is not.
What struck me still more in him was his calm, steadfast courage.
There is no rashness about him; he will be slow to condemn, but when
he does he will be inflexible. If difficult circumstances arise he
will show himself both a hero and a saint."

Pius X had been brought up in no school of diplomacy, but the same
goal may be reached by different roads. "A man born of the people,"
said another writer, "who has lived among working men, a student of
the Bible and of the Fathers of the Church, of philosophy and
theology--a man rich in experience and knowledge of men and things."

Lovers of church music in all countries had hailed with joy the news
of Cardinal Sarto's election to the papacy. The changes brought about
in Venice had not passed unnoticed in the musical world; a need for
reform was universally felt. "May we not hope that your Holiness will
do for the world what you have already done for Venice?" asked a
French musician. "It shall be done and soon," was the reply, "but it
will be a hard fight. And not the only one," added the pope
thoughtfully, musing on the work that lay before him. Leo XIII had
more than once urged on the faithful the study of the traditional
music of the Church. He had even sent to Venice for Don Lorenzo
Perosi to take charge of the music of the Sistine Chapel; but the
Italians clung to their operatic effects, and the results had not
been notable.

On the 22nd of November, 1903, the _motu proprio_[*] on sacred music
laid down definite rules on the matter. "Nothing should have place in
the church that is unworthy of the house of prayer and the majesty of
God," said the pope. "Sacred music contributes to the fitness and
splendour of the ecclesiastical rites, and since its principal office
is to clothe with suitable melody the liturgical text proposed for
the understanding of the faithful, its proper aim is to add greater
efficacy to the words, in order that through it the people may be the
more easily moved to devotion and better disposed for the fruits of
grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries. It
must be holy, it must be true art, it must be universal; and since
these qualities are to be found in the highest degree in the
Gregorian chant . . . the more closely the composition of church
music approaches . . . to the Gregorian form, the more sacred and
liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that
supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple."

[*] A _motu proprio_ is a document drawn up by the pope on his own

The _motu proprio_, however, did not exclude the use of modern music,
provided that it was suitable to be associated with the liturgy; but
theatrical music was not to be tolerated. Rules were laid down to
guarantee the dignity and solemnity of church offices; paid singers,
especially women, were not to be employed in the choir; bands and
orchestral accompaniments were forbidden. Bishops were to institute
special commissions of persons skilled in sacred music, to see that
the rules were carried out. Schools of sacred song were to be
established in those seminaries where they did not already exist, and
in town and country parishes. From his personal experiences at
Tombolo, Salzano, Treviso and Mantua, Pius X knew that this was
perfectly practicable.

In the letter to Cardinal Respighi, cardinal-vicar of Rome, written a
few weeks later, the pope laments once more that the beautiful
musical tradition of the classical Roman school had almost totally
disappeared. "For the devout psalmody of the clergy," he writes,
alluding to the singing of Vespers, in which the people also used to
join, "there have been substituted interminable musical compositions
on the words of the Psalms, all of them modelled on theatrical works,
and most of them of such poor quality that they would not be
tolerated for a moment even in second-rate concerts. Gregorian
chant," he continues, "as it was handed down by the Fathers and is
found in the codices of the various churches, is noble, quiet, easy
to learn, and of a beauty so fresh and full of surprises that
wherever it has been introduced it has never failed to excite real
enthusiasm in the youthful singers."

The motu proprio was received with joy by many, and with
consternation by those who believed that operatic music was an
attraction to the multitude. "We are going to have good music in
church," observed Pius X to Don Perosi. "The pope has not been slow
in carrying his words into effect," said a writer in the
_Ecclesiastical Review_. "May he live long, this lover of the
sanctuary and of the beauty of holiness; and may his kindly face
soften those hard hearts that can still bring themselves to sing
_bravura_, not to say _buffo_, boldly before the Blessed Sacrament,
with fearsome shriekings, tremblings and trills."

Some hearts were not softened. Pius had spoken the truth when he
said, "The pleasure of a depraved taste rises in hostility to sacred
music; for it cannot be denied that profane music, so easy of
comprehension and so specially full of rhythm, finds favour in
proportion to the want of a true and good musical education among
those who listen to it."

That reform was necessary in England may be shown by the impression
made on a serious outsider by the music in use in some of our
Catholic churches. "You have Miss A. singing duets with Miss B. to
the words, 'Domine Fili Jesu Christe' as if they were singing 'O that
we two were maying,' or 'There's Life in the Old Horse yet,' and to
music which would disgrace a tenth-rate writer of music-hall songs.
Or if it be a male choir, you hear thunderous basses without a note
in tune, and emasculated tenors . . . engaged over worrying the most
solemn words of the Creed as though they were prize dogs, and the
Creed a pack of rats."

It was not that the pope cared for nothing but classical church music
and Gregorian chant. He was a lover of all good music, whether sacred
or secular. But he considered that operatic music, however beautiful,
was unsuited to the sanctuary. It is possible to admire the pictures
of Watteau, without desiring to see them used as altar-pieces.

In his first encyclical Pius had already touched on the question of
Catholic social action. In his _motu proprio_ of December 1903 he
spoke still more definitely on the subject. Born and brought up in
the midst of the people, he could thoroughly understand their needs.
He foresaw also the dangers of rash and imprudent action which might
rely too strongly on popular effort and influence. It was not the
movement towards social reform itself which stood in need of being
checked, but the extravagances of some over-enthusiastic reformers.

"Christian democracy," he declared, "must have for its basis the
principles of Catholic faith and morals, and must be free of
political parties." His great predecessor Leo XIII, having luminously
traced the rules of Christian popular action in his famous
encyclicals (continued Pius), his own desire was that those prudent
rules should be exactly and fully observed. He had therefore decided
to collect them in an abridged form that they might be for all
Catholics a constant rule of conduct. After having laid down man's
right to the use and permanent ownership of property, he passed on to
the obligations of justice between masters and men, and the utility
of aid societies and trades unions. Christian democracy, he
maintained, had for its special aim the solution of the difficulties
between labour and capital, but in order to do this effectually it
must be based on the principles of the Catholic faith and morality;
it must not be made use of for party purposes; it must be a
beneficent activity for the people founded on the natural law and the
precepts of the Gospel. Catholic writers, when upholding the cause of
the people and the poor, were to beware of using language calculated
to inspire ill-feeling between classes. Here, as in other matters,
obedience to the laws of God and of the Church was to be the means to
the solution of the many difficulties which existed. "Godliness is
profitable to all things," he had said in his first encyclical, "and
when this is whole and vigorous, in very truth the people shall sit
in the beauty of peace."

In 1905 an apostolic letter to the Italian bishops defined still more
clearly the lines of Catholic social action. "Such," he says, "is the
power of the truth and morality taught by Jesus Christ, that even the
material well-being of individuals, of the family and of human
society receive support and protection." The civilization of the
world is Christian civilization; the more frankly Christian, the more
frankly true, the more lasting and the more productive of good fruit;
the more it withdraws from the Christian ideal, so much the feebler
does it become, to the great detriment of society. The Church has
been throughout the ages the guardian and protector of Christian
civilization. "What prosperity and happiness, what peace and concord,
what respectful submission to authority, what excellent government
would be established and maintained in the world if the perfect ideal
of Christian civilization could be everywhere realized. But given the
constant warfare of flesh with spirit, of darkness with light, of
Satan with God, so great a good in its full measure can scarcely be
hoped for. Yet this is no reason for losing courage. The Church goes
fearlessly on, and while extending the Kingdom of God in places where
it has not yet been preached, she strives by every means to repair
the losses inflicted on the Kingdom already acquired." Once more the
only means that can achieve the desired end are clearly pointed out:
"To reinstate Jesus Christ in the family, the school and society; to
re-establish the principle that human authority represents that of
God; to take closely to heart the interests of the people, especially
those of industrial and agricultural workers, to endeavour to make
laws conformable to justice, to amend or suppress those which are not
so . . . to defend and support the rights of God in everything, and
the no less sacred rights of the Church."

"What can I do for the Church?" asked a lady of Pius X at a private

"Teach the catechism," was the prompt and perhaps rather unexpected

"It is manifestly impossible," said the pope, "to re-establish all
the institutions found useful in former times; instruments must be
suited to the work intended. There must be unity, co-operation in
working, suitable methods adapted to the times. In all Catholic
social work there must be submission to ecclesiastical authority.
Let everyone, therefore, strive to ameliorate . . . the economic
condition of the people, supporting and promoting institutions which
conduce to this end . . . and let all our beloved sons who are
devoting themselves to Catholic action listen again to the words
which spring so spontaneously from our heart. Amid the bitter sorrows
which daily surround us, we will say, with the apostle St. Paul, if
there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort comes to us from
your charity . . . fulfil ye our joy, that you being of one mind . . .
agreeing in sentiment, with humility and due submission, not seeking
your own convenience but the common good, and imprinting on your
hearts the mind which was in Christ Jesus our Saviour. Let Him be the
beginning of all your undertakings. 'All whatsoever you do in word or
in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,' let
Him be the end of your every work; 'for of Him, and by Him, and in
Him, are all things; to Him be glory for ever. Amen.'"

During the whole life of Pius X the Bible had been his favourite
study. Every encyclical he issued bears witness to his intimate
knowledge and love of both the Old Testament and the New. The words
in which he insistently recommended the careful and loving study of
Holy Writ to priests and people would greatly astonish those of our
separated brethren who persist in believing that the Catholic Church
forbids the reading of the Bible by her children. When receiving
representatives of the Society of St. Jerome for the diffusion of the
Holy Scriptures, he spoke with the greatest praise of the splendid
work of this most deserving institution, which in the space of
fifteen months had been able to give out more than 200,000 copies of
the gospels: to those Catholic theologians who were engaged in
historical studies and biblical research he always gave the warmest
encouragement. "The Catholic faith has nothing to fear from
knowledge, but much from ignorance," was a truth that he more than
once averred.

The pope, who in his youth had entered keenly into all the games and
sports of the seminary life, was a strong believer in schemes for the
physical development of youth. "I bless with all my heart your games
and amusements," he said on the occasion of a display in the Vatican
gardens by athletic clubs. "I approve of your gymnastics, your cycle,
boat, and foot races, your mountain climbing and the rest, for these
pastimes will keep you from the idleness which is the mother of every
vice; and because friendly contests will be for you the symbol of
emulation in the practice of virtue . . . . Be strong to keep and
defend your faith when so many are losing it; be strong to remain
devoted sons of the Church when so many are rebelling against her . . .
be strong to conquer the obstacles which you will meet in the practice
of the Catholic religion, for your own merit and for the good of your

To the pilgrimages that flocked from all parts of the world to do him
homage, Pius X addressed like words of sympathy and encouragement. "I
bless you all, great and small, rich and poor," he said to a band of
peasants from Moravia--"the good that they may remain good; those who
have strayed from the right path, that they may come back to it;
parents that they may bring up their children well; children that
they may honour the white hairs of their parents and the country that
has nourished them."

"Tell the rich to be generous in almsgiving," he said on another
occasion; "tell the poor to be proud of being chosen as the living
representatives of Christ on earth. Bid them neither envy nor hate
others, but have resignation and patience."

It was to those of his own province that a special tenderness was
revealed. "If I could tell you all that is in my heart," he said one
day to a pilgrimage from Treviso, "when night comes on I should be
still speaking." It was hard for him to believe that he would never
see his beloved Venice again. Walking one day in the Vatican gardens
with a friend, he heard in the distance a shrill whistle. "Hark!" he
said, wistfully, "perhaps that is the train for Venice!" But much as
he loved his own people there was no thought either in his mind or in
theirs that honours might come to them through his position. "Thank
God, we are all able to support ourselves," said one of his sisters
soon after his election, "we need trouble him for nothing. Poor
dear," she added compassionately, "he has all the poor people in the
world to think of now." They had their own places in the pope's
private chapel, and on gala days at St. Peter's. That was their only
privilege, and it was all that they asked.

It was said of the new pope that his usual expression was one of
overwhelming sadness, and to those who only saw him in public this
might have seemed to be true. His humble spirit hated pomp and
display, and the burden of his huge responsibility lay heavy on his
soul. When borne through the crowd in the _sedia gestatoria_ he
seemed more than ever conscious of the weight of the cross laid upon
him by his divine Master. "His face amid the scene of triumph spoke
of the vanity of all earthly glory. He had ever the look of one who
is weighed down by the sins and the sorrows of mankind--a look
befitting the vicar of Him of whom we speak as the Man of Sorrows,"
wrote Wilfrid Ward. In St. Peter's he would allow no outbreak of the
applause which had become customary at papal services. "It is not
fitting that the servant should be applauded in his Master's house,"
he said sternly as he gave the order. So it was in silence that he
passed thenceforward amongst his people--but a silence tense and
trembling with an emotion that would occasionally break out in spite
of all attempts at restraint.

But those who knew him intimately had another tale to tell. The
genial and merry spirit that had been his of old, though overshadowed
at first by the burden he had to bear, was by no means dead. He had
the art of making himself all things to all men; he could be gay and
merry with the young, wonderfully tender and gentle with those in
sorrow or suffering. "He had the greatest heart," said one who knew
him well, "of any man alive."



The separation of church and state had long been the deliberate aim
of the irreligious French government. During the pontificate of Leo
XIII the following resolution had been put and carried at an assembly
of freemasons: "It is the strict duty of a freemason, if he is a
member of parliament, to vote for the suppression of the Budget des
Cultes, for the suppression of the French embassy at the Vatican, and
on all occasions to declare himself in favour of the separation of
church and state without abandoning the right of the state to police
the church."

The Waldeck-Rousseau ministry had already brought France to the verge
of a breach with Rome. By means of a concession on the part of the
pope the difficulty had been bridged over, but all the efforts of
M. Combes were directed towards making the separation inevitable.
There was one difficulty in the way--how to make it appear that Rome
was to blame. "To denounce the concordat just now," he said in a
speech delivered in the Senate in March, 1903, "without having
sufficiently prepared men's minds for it, without having clearly
proved that the Catholic clergy themselves are provoking it and
rendering it inevitable, would be bad policy on the part of the
government, by reason of the resentment which might be caused in the
country. I do not say that the connection between church and state
will not some day be severed; I do not even say that that day is not
near. I merely say that the day has not yet come."

The way was paved by a series of provocations designed to cast the
responsibility and odium on the pope. Pretexts for a quarrel were
soon found in the circumstances of the visit of M. Loubet to Rome; in
the discussions which arose with regard to the nomination of bishops,
and in Rome's treatment of the bishops of Dijon and Laval. The
Vatican White Book sufficiently indicated the long-suffering patience
of the pope with regard to these questions.

There were Catholic critics who thought that Pius X was slow in
vindicating the rights of the Church. "God," said he, speaking to a
Frenchman on this subject, "could have sent us the Redeemer
immediately after the Fall. And He made the world wait thousands of
years! . . . . Yet they expect a poor priest, the vicar of that
Christ so long desired, to pronounce without reflection grave and
irrevocable words. For the moment I am passive--passive in the hands
of Him who sustains me, and in whose name--when the time comes--I
shall speak."

On the 10th of February, 1905, the Chambre declared that the
"attitude of the Vatican" had rendered the separation of church and
state inevitable. "An historic lie," as M. Ribot, a Protestant member
of the Chambre, trenchantly described the statement.

The Law of Separation of the Churches and the State, passed by the
French government in 1905, completely dissociated the state from the
appointment of bishops and parish priests, but, lest this might seem
to be an unalloyed blessing, it must be added that it also suppressed
the annual revenue of the Church, amounting to 42 million francs. The
departments and communes were forbidden to vote appropriations for
public worship. Life pensions equivalent to three quarters of the
former salary were granted to priests who were not less than sixty
years of age at the passing of the law, and life pensions equivalent
to half of the former salary to those under forty-five. As a matter
of fact, the state became the richer by eight million francs. The use
of Catholic buildings was to be regulated by the _Associations
Cultuelles_. Without any reference to the Holy See it was decided by
the government that these associations for religious worship should
be formed in each diocese and parish to administer church property.
Several articles in the law regarding the constitution of these
_Associations Cultuelles_ left to the Council of State--a purely lay
authority--the settlement of any dispute that might arise. In other
words it lay with the Council of State to pronounce on the orthodoxy
of any association and its conformity with the rules of public

There was a good deal of discussion in ecclesiastical circles as to
whether the "Associations" could be formed. Pius in his encyclical
"Gravissimo," August 1906, decided the question. He had examined the
law, he declared, to see if it were at all possible to carry on under
its provisions the work of religion in France while safeguarding the
sacred principles on which the Church was constituted. After
consultation with the episcopate he had sorrowfully to declare that
no such arrangement was possible. The question at issue was whether
the associations for worship could be tolerated. His answer was that
"with reference to these associations as the law establishes them, we
decree that it is absolutely impossible for them to be formed without
a violation of the sacred rights pertaining to the very life of the
Church." As to any other "legal and canonical" associations which
might preserve the Catholics of France from the difficulties by which
they were threatened, there was no hope of them while the law
remained as it was. "We declare that it is not permissible to try any
other kind of association as long as it is not established in a sure
and legal manner that the divine constitution of the Church, the
immutable rights of the Roman Pontiff and of the bishops, as well as
their authority over the necessary property of the Church, and
particularly over sacred edifices, shall be irrevocably placed in the
said associations in full security."

"God's law alone is of importance," said Pius at a private interview.
"We are no diplomatist, but our mission is to defend it. One truth is
at stake: was the Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ or not?
Since it was, nothing can induce us to give up its constitutions, its
rights or its liberty." "Let it be clearly understood," said he on
another occasion, "we do not ask the members of your government to go
to Mass--although we regret that they do not. All we ask, since they
pride themselves on recognizing nothing but facts, is that they
should not ignore one very considerable fact--the existence of the
Catholic Church, its constitution, and its head, which we at present
happen to be."

There were not wanting critics who spoke regretfully of the
wholesale sacrifice of church property. "They speak too much of the
goods of the Church and too little of her good," said the pope.
"Tell them that history repeats itself. Ages ago on a high mountain
two powers stood face to face. 'All this will I give thee,' said the
one, offering the kingdoms of the earth and their riches, 'if thou
wilt fall down and worship me.' The other refused--and is refusing
still . . . ."

The reply of the French government was the appropriation of all that
was left of the property of the Church in France. The law of January
1907 permitted religious worship in the churches purely on sufferance
and without any legal title. This looked like a concession, but it
had its uses. The simple citizen still saw the priest in the church;
Mass was still said there. "All of which proves," said the government
to the unthinking public, "that the Church is in nowise persecuted;
if she is not as prosperous as of old, she has only the pope to

The separation of church and state was the signal for open war on the
Church. Law after law was passed, making it more and more difficult
for the priest to minister to the people. He was forbidden to enter a
hospital unless his presence had been formally asked for by a
patient. He was forced to serve his time in the army in the hope that
his vocation might be ruined. He was forced to pay a rent for his
presbytery, although he was often poorer than the poorest of his
parishioners. Many of the beautiful old churches of France fell
gradually into ruin, or were used for other purposes than worship--
the more degrading the purpose the better.

The principle which underlay the attitude of Rome in the matter was
clear and consistent. The state having proclaimed its indifference,
not to say hostility, to religion, having ignored the constitution of
the Church and suppressed all means of negotiating with the pope,
claimed the right to legislate for Catholics, to control their
organization, to limit their material resources, and to decide their
differences. The men who made the law had openly declared that their
purpose was to decatholicize France. "In making his decision, has not
the pope appealed from the French parliament to the French people?"
was a thoughtful question asked at the time.

"The apparent apathy of most French Catholics, the energy and cunning
of their adversaries," said the same writer, "deceived the world into
believing that a little faction had the strength of a whole people
behind it . . . ."

The pope's refusal to accept the bishops proposed by the French
government had left many sees vacant. In February 1906, immediately
after the break with the government, Pius X himself consecrated
fourteen French bishops in St. Peter's. It was the act of a great and
apostolic statesman. "I have not called you to joy," said the pope,
"but to the Cross," and bearing the cross on their breasts they went
forth, without stipend, without government protection, intervention
or recognition. They went as simply apostolic men--to gain souls to
God--and the result of their labours is manifest.

"Destroy the Church in France, and dechristianization will follow,"
cried her enemies. "A short period of separation," said an orator at
the general assembly of the Grand Orient in September 1904, "will
complete the ruin of dogma, and the ruin of Church." What really

"Our bishops, priests, and people," wrote George Fonsegrive in 1913,
"are absolutely devoted to Rome and obedient to the pope. After the
passing of the Separation Law all the orders of the pope were
immediately executed. At one word from him our bishops and priests
gave up their palaces and their presbyteries and abandoned all their
goods. Nowhere else has there been such docility and such unanimity.
Our Church is truly and absolutely Roman; therefore every attack on
its members attaches them more strongly to the source and centre of
their life. Religious life is everywhere increasing in depth and in
intensity . . . . The human mind has found the limits of science, and
has felt that they are narrow and hard; all men of culture recognize
to-day that our whole life is, as it were, wrapped in mystery. Faith
is no longer looked upon as a suspect but as a friend. Those who have
it not are seeking it, and those who have found it treasure it. Even
those who despair of finding it respect it. And all, or nearly all,
recognize that truth can only be where she declares herself, where
she is supplied with all she needs to make her accessible to man,
that is to say, in Catholicism, and finally in Rome."



At the beginning of the nineteenth century the last remnants of
Jansenism were still influencing Catholic teaching in many countries
of Europe. This most insidious of heresies, preached by men of
austere life and veiled by the plea of reverence for holy things, was
a danger to the lax and to the scrupulous alike. It laid down as
conditions for approaching the sacraments dispositions of soul which
for the greater part of mankind were wholly unattainable; it
presented God as the Jehovah of the Old Testament, terrible and
awe-inspiring, rather than as the Christ of the New, tender and
compassionate to sinners. "I tell you," said St. Vincent de Paul to
one of his priests, "that this new error of Jansenism is one of the
most dangerous that has ever troubled the Church."

Perhaps the most fatal effect of Jansenist teaching was that it drove
the sinner from the sources of grace and the weak from the sources of
spiritual strength. Frequent communion, which had been the custom in
apostolic times and which had been always upheld in the teaching of
the Church, was to the Jansenist a tempting of Providence. In vain
did Catholic teachers explain to the people that the Council of Trent
"exhorts, asks and beseeches the faithful to believe and venerate
these sacred mysteries . . . with such constancy and firmness of
faith . . . that they may be able frequently to receive the
supersubstantial bread." Nothing, it was answered, had been laid down
as to the necessary dispositions for receiving communion; and how
were they to know that they had them? Theologians were divided on the
subject, some teaching that very perfect dispositions were required,
whilst others maintained that a state of grace and a right intention
were sufficient. Another controversy had arisen as to the meaning of
the term "frequent communion," some holding that weekly communion
came under this heading, others that it did not. Appeals were made
from time to time to Rome to decide the question, that the minds of
the faithful might be at rest.

In the first encyclical of Pius X where he sets forth as the purpose
of his pontificate the restoring of all things in Christ, the
frequent use of the sacraments is mentioned as one of the four great
means to this end. We have already seen how, when visiting his
diocese as bishop, he bade the people make no preparations for his
coming save attending Mass and receiving holy communion, declaring
that this would be the best welcome they could give him. On the 20th
of December, 1906, the Decree concerning Frequent and Daily Communion
put an end to all further controversy.

"The primary purpose of the holy Eucharist is not that the honour and
reverence due to our Lord may be safeguarded," says the decree, "not
that the sacrament may serve as a reward of virtue, but that the
faithful, being united to God by holy communion, may thence derive
strength to resist sinful desires, to cleanse themselves from daily
faults, and to avoid those serious sins to which human frailty is
liable." "Frequent and daily communion, as a thing most earnestly
desired by Christ our Lord and by the Catholic Church," runs the
first clause of the decree, "should be open to all the faithful of
whatever rank and condition of life, so that no one who is in the
state of grace, and who approaches the holy table with a right and
devout intention, can be hindered therefrom."

Having defined a right intention as a purpose of pleasing God, of
being more closely united with Him by charity, and of seeking this
divine remedy for one's weaknesses and defects, the decree goes on to
affirm that, although freedom from venial sin is to be desired, it is
sufficient that the communicant be free from mortal sin, provided he
has a firm purpose of avoiding sin for the future. Preparation and
thanksgiving are to be according to the strength, circumstances and
duties of the individual. All priests and confessors are to exhort
the faithful frequently and zealously to "this devout and saving

There was no mistaking this. "The Divine Redeemer of mankind," wrote
a priest of the London Oratory, "is to be just as accessible to the
struggling beginner whose feet have been ensnared in the meshes of
sin, and who is struggling bravely against temptation, as He is to
the man or woman who has been purified by many years of painful
effort, but who is ever liable to fall. He is needed by the austere
religious living in solitude in her cell . . . . He is needed by the
poor dweller in the crowded slums who has so much to contend
against--squalor, misery, drink, vice in various forms, and the
depressing influences of grinding poverty. Children have need of Him
that they may be formed to habits of virtue; youths have need of Him
that they may obtain mastery over their passions; maidens have need
of Him that they may preserve their innocence untarnished; grown-up
men and women have need of Him that they may advance in virtue and
carry out faithfully the duties of their state of life; there are
none who can afford to neglect the great source of spiritual
strength, none who can do without Him."

Rome had spoken, but to many people the news seemed almost too good
to be true, and to others so surprising and "new" as to be unwelcome.
The old idea that frequent communion was only for holy people was
hard to eradicate. Jansenist bugbears about the preparation required
and the responsibility incurred frightened the timid. Much insistence
was necessary before the objection "I am not good enough" was found
to be worthless, but when it was finally done away with the fruits
were at once apparent.

"What a wonderful change there would be," Monsignor de Ségur had
written some forty years earlier, "if frequent communion could be
established in our colleges and schools! Experience shows the
influence of communion on a young man's daily life. There is no vice
that the regular use of the sacraments will not uproot, no moral
resurrection beyond its power to effect." That dream was now on its
way to realization. "Confessions," said a Jesuit who was giving a
retreat to the students of a large public school, "are child's play
now to what they used to be. In the old days they took two or three
days--now nearly all the boys are daily communicants, and the
confessions of the whole college take little more time than an hour."

"Yes," said a young working-girl to a Sacred Heart nun, "I go every
day. I cannot stay till the end of Mass, because I have to get to my
work. But there are several of us who are all daily communicants, who
take the same train to business, and we get into the same carriage
and make our thanksgiving on the way. And we love to think that in
that train, full of people who seldom think of God, there is one
carriage where He is being adored and worshipped. And we find it such
a help in the day's work."

And not girls only. The author will never forget a very early morning
Mass in a big London church. The church was full of working men in
their working clothes. The procession to the altar seemed never
ending, communion was still being given after the Mass was finished.
They had come for help and comfort in their daily toil to One who on
this earth had been a working man like themselves, One who is "rich
unto all that call on Him," and they had learnt the strength of that

Was it not the "man in the street" for whom our Saviour came? Were
not the crowds who followed Him mostly composed of "men in the
street"? And did He not choose from their ranks the Apostles who were
to carry His message throughout the world? "In these days," says the
decree, "when religion and the Catholic faith are attacked on all
sides, and true love of God and genuine piety are lacking in so many
places, it is doubly necessary that the faithful should be
strengthened, and the love of God kindled in their hearts by this
saving practice of daily communion."

"Holy communion is the shortest and surest way to Heaven," said Pius
X to the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. "There are others,
innocence, for instance, but that is for little children; penance,
but we are afraid of it; generous endurance of the trials of life,
but when they come we weep and ask to be spared. Once for all,
beloved children, the surest, easiest, shortest way is by the
Eucharist. It is so easy to approach the holy table, and there we
taste the joys of Paradise."

A second decree was published in answer to questions regarding the
frequent communion of children who had only recently made their first
communion, and of the infirm who were suffering from some chronic
illness. The answer given was that frequent or daily communion was
for young children as well as for their elders, since it was highly
desirable that their innocence and goodness should be shielded by so
powerful a protection. As for the sick, every facility was to be
granted them to receive communion as often as possible. This was
followed four years later by a decree which fixed the age of first
communion at about the seventh year, the time at which the child
begins to use its reason. In some cases it might be earlier; in some
it would have to be later; this would depend on the intelligence of
the individual child. The pope went straight to the root of the

"The pages of the Gospel witness to the very great affection shown by
Christ to little children when He was on earth," he begins. "It was
His delight to be in their company; He was wont to lay His hands upon
them, to embrace them, to bless them. And He was indignant at their
being turned away by His disciples, whom He rebuked in these grave
words: 'Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them
not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven'." After having pointed out
that in the earliest days of the Church holy communion was given even
to babies, and that if later for good cause the age of reason or of
discretion was fixed as the time for first communion, this did not
presuppose that a fuller knowledge was required for the reception of
the holy Eucharist than for the sacrament of penance. The decree went
on to deplore the postponement of first communion until twelve,
thirteen or fourteen years of age, according to local customs. "Even
if this ensures a fuller understanding of the sacred mysteries, a
careful sacramental confession and a longer and more diligent
preparation," it continues, "the gain in no wise balances the loss.
The innocence of childhood, deprived of this most powerful
protection, is soon lost; bad habits have time to grow and become
strong. The little ones, being in the happy condition of their first
candour and innocence, stand in great need of that mystical food, on
account of the many snares and dangers of the present time." "As soon
as children begin to have a certain use of reason, so as to be able
to conceive devotion to this Sacrament," says St. Thomas Aquinas,
"then may it be given to them."

In order that the above-mentioned abuses should be entirely removed
and that "children from their tenderest years should cling to Jesus
Christ, live His life, and find protection from the dangers of
corruption", regulations concerning their first communion were laid
down and ordered to be observed in every part of the world.

The decree caused a certain commotion in some Catholic countries.
Once more the remnants of Jansenist teaching arose to frighten the
faithful. Would a child of seven understand the reverence due to the
Sacrament? was the question anxiously asked--children of that age are
so thoughtless. The objection had already been answered by Monsignor
de Ségur: "To communicate well, it suffices to receive the Saviour
with a good will. This is found just as much in children as in
adults. The child loves Jesus Christ; it wishes to have Him; why,
then, not give Him to the child? Thoughtlessness is no obstacle to
holy communion, unless it is wilful. Children are thoughtless--yes,
but they are good and affectionate; and because of their need of
love, we must give their love its true food."

Another objection, and one that seemed more plausible, was that
sometimes a late first communion tended to preserve children from
much that was evil; for this reason it was often delayed as long as
possible, an apparent safeguard which the new decree threatened to do
away with altogether. Experience has long since proved that here
again the good obtained far outbalances the bad.

As for the argument that such little children cannot understand what
they are doing, those who have the task of preparing them for their
first communion have a different tale to tell. "I have found it much
easier," writes one who has had much experience, "to prepare little
children than those who are older--the preparation is so much more
objective than subjective. It is more a realization of how lovable,
how desirable, how loving our Lord is, than a preoccupation of how
they can make themselves worthy--or less unworthy--to receive
Him. . . . The actual first communion appears to the little ones as
the very loving embrace of a much-loved Father; to the older ones it
is more a welcome to a loved and honoured guest, with--if I may so
put it--the preoccupations of a hostess."

The pope delighted in the letters he received from many little first
communicants thanking him for their joy at being admitted to the holy
table; he loved children dearly and they returned his affection,
crowding round him, speaking to him without the slightest fear or
shyness, and giving him their confidence at once. He loved to give
them communion with his own hands; there was an affinity between the
white-souled pontiff and the white-souled children who knelt at his
feet--the innocence that had fought and conquered and the innocence
that was as yet untried. All the little first communicants of Rome,
gentle or simple, were invited to the Vatican. He would give them a
short instruction suited to their understanding, ending with the hope
that their last communion would be as fervent and loving as the
first. Then he would talk to them, and they to him, simply and
without any ceremony. Unconventional sometimes were the appellations
by which they called him. "Yes, Pope," would be the answer to a
question. But the very little ones, seeing the gracious white figure
bending over them and looking up into the gentle holy face of him
that spoke, would sometimes answer softly, "Yes, Jesus."

An Englishwoman who had a private audience with the pope brought her
little boy of four to receive his blessing. While she was talking the
child stood at a little distance looking on; but presently he crept
up to the pope, put his hands on his knees and looked up into his
face. "How old is he?" asked Pius, stroking the little head.

"He is four," answered the mother, "and in two or three years I hope
he will make his first communion."

The pope looked earnestly into the child's clear eyes. "Whom do you
receive in holy communion?" he asked.

"Jesus Christ," was the prompt answer.

"And who is Jesus Christ?"

"Jesus Christ is God," replied the boy, no less quickly.

"Bring him to me to-morrow," said Pius, turning to the mother, "and I
will give him holy communion myself."

François Laval describes the impression made on the children of a
pilgrimage of 400 first communicants who went from France to thank
Pius X in 1912. "As soon as they had returned from Rome," he says, "I
went to see some little friends of mine to question them. There was
no need, they talked without stopping of all they had seen.
Everything had been wonderful, but most wonderful of all--wonderful
enough almost to blot out the memory of everything else--had been the
pope. They had not been a bit shy with him, they explained--it was
impossible, he was so kind. 'The tears were in his eyes--but lots of
us were crying too,' nearly all who could get near enough to speak to
him were begging him for graces. 'Cure my sister, Holy Father;
convert my father; I want to be a priest . . . and I a missionary!'
It must have been rather like that when the people came to Jesus in

"It seems to me," added the writer, "that in these days, when so many
people are trying to enforce obedience, and failing signally in the
attempt, that there is only one man in the world who is really master
of the minds and hearts of others--an old man clothed in white
garments . . . ."



In July 1907 the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office issued the
decree "Lamentabili," which condemned sixty-five distinctive
Modernist doctrines. Two months later appeared the encyclical
"Pascendi," denouncing under the name of "Modernism" a group of
errors which struck at the very roots of the Christian faith.

These events marked the breaking of a storm that had been threatening
for some time, of which the condemnation of certain books of the Abbé
Loisy, and other incidents, had been the warning rumblings. Loisy's
condemnation let loose an outburst in the rationalist, anti-clerical
and Modernist press. "The old shadowy images of Rome gagging her
progressive men will be revived with added venom to poison the mind
of the public," prophesied a writer in the _Ecclesiastical Review_,
and the prophecy was certainly fulfilled. In vain did the Abbé
Monchamp point out, after close analysis of Loisy's book, the
impossibility of escaping a conclusion which places the writer in
direct opposition to the authoritative teaching of the Church. The
authoritative teaching of the Church was to the minds of many a much
less important thing than the retaining of a few intelligent men
within her fold. Yet even among those outside of the Church there
were men who saw more clearly. "From the paternal standpoint of the
Church of Rome," wrote Professor Sanday, "it seems to me, if I may
say so, that the authorities have acted wisely. It is not an
insuperable barrier placed in the way of future progress, but the
intimation of a need for caution."

The storm of abuse which had arisen at the condemnation of Loisy,
which had been increased by the publication of the decree
"Lamentabili," reached its climax at the appearance of the encyclical
"Pascendi," which tore the veil from Modernism and exposed its errors
with ruthless precision. Modernism, like Jansenism, had made up its
mind to remain in the Church and to mould her teaching to its will;
and now it was only one more of the many heresies that had fallen on
the rock of the promise and been broken in the falling. The pope and
Cardinal Merry del Val, who as secretary of state had the honour of
sharing in all the attacks that were levelled at his illustrious
chief, were denounced as intolerant fanatics. The one idea of Pius X,
cried the Modernists, was to repress by violent means every
indication of originality of thought and independence of judgement
within the Church; he had attempted to stifle a movement with which
some of the best thinkers of the age were in sympathy. He was a "good
country priest," perhaps; but utterly incapable of dealing with the
questions which were at issue. "The Modernist movement had quickened
a thousand dim dreams of reunion into enthusiastic hopes," wrote
Father Tyrrell, the leader of Modernism in England, "when lo! Pius X
comes forward with a stone in one hand and a scorpion in the other."

To many Christians the encyclical "Pascendi" revealed a danger that
they themselves had never suspected; and the account of the Modernist
doctrines which it so lucidly gave was for them a lesson more
eloquent than any censure. It was no empty accusation, much less a
travesty, as the Modernists themselves allowed, that masterly
analysis of a system which claimed the right to substitute itself for
the Catholic conception of a teaching authority established by Jesus
Christ. "Yes or no, do you believe in the divine authority of the
Church?" asked Cardinal Mercier. "Do you accept outwardly and in the
sincerity of your heart what she commands in the name of Christ? Do
you consent to obey her? If so, she offers you her sacraments and
undertakes to guide you safely into the harbour of salvation. If not,
then you deliberately sever the tie that unites you to her, and break
the bond consecrated by her grace. Before God and your conscience you
no longer belong to her; don't remain in obstinate hypocrisy a
pretended member of her fold. You cannot honestly pass yourself off
as one of her sons; and as she cannot be a party to hypocrisy and
sacrilege, she bids you, if you force her to it, to leave her ranks.
. . . The Modernism condemned by the pope is the negation of the
Church's teaching."

What _is_ Modernism? is a question that has been often asked. It is
not easy to put the matter in a nutshell, and various answers have
been given. For a complete analysis of Modernism we must go to the
encyclical itself. After condemning Modernism as "a meeting-ground of
all heresies," the pope denounced in it a group of errors which
included: the separation of an "historical" from a "religious"
Christ; the reversal of the Incarnation by the denial of the entering
of the Divine into the temporal sphere; the reducing of faith to a
matter of feeling; the reducing of religious authority from its
apostolic basis to a sort of "chairmanship," and the throwing over of
the Bible and revelation in favour of a personal inward
enlightenment. The encyclical proceeded to deal with the subject in
three parts, First came the analysis of Modernist teaching, with
agnosticism as the basis of its philosophy and immanence as its
positive side, thus placing the explanation of religion in man alone,
and lifting conscience to the same level as revelation. Faith and
science to the Modernist are separate, the latter being supreme, and
religious dogmas are not only inadequate but must be changeable to be
adapted to living needs. Everything must be subject to evolution, and
these principles were being applied to the deformation of history and
of apologetics.

In the second part Modernism was traced to its causes. "The proximate
cause," said the pope, "is without any doubt an error of the mind.
The remoter causes are two: curiosity and pride. Curiosity, unless
wisely held in check, is of itself sufficient to account for all
errors. But far more effective in darkening the mind and leading it
into error is pride, which, as it were, dwells in Modernism as in its
own house. Through pride the Modernists have overestimated
themselves. They are puffed up with a vainglory which lets them see
themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge, and makes them say,
'We are not as the rest of men'; which leads them, lest they should
seem as other men, to embrace and to devise novelties of the most
absurd kind. It is pride which . . . causes them to demand a
compromise between authority and liberty. It is owing to their pride
that they seek to be the reformers of others while they forget to
reform themselves."

"If from moral causes we pass to the intellectual, the first and most
powerful is ignorance. These very men who pose as teachers of the
Church, who speak so highly of modern philosophy and show such
contempt for Scholasticism, have embraced the one with its false
glamour precisely because their ignorance of the other has left them
without the means of recognizing the confusion of their ideas and of
refuting sophistry. Their system, full of so many errors, has been
born of the union between faith and false philosophy." "Modernism is
inclined to pantheism by its doctrine of divine immanence--i.e., of
the intimate presence of God within us," continues the pope. "Does
God declare Himself distinct from us? If so, then the position of
Modernism must not be opposed to that of Catholicism, nor exterior
revelation be rejected. But if God declares Himself not distinct from
us, the position of Modernism becomes openly pantheistic."

In the third part are set forth the remedies for the evil, amongst
which are the study of scholastic philosophy in seminaries and by
clerics at the universities; ceaseless activity and watchfulness on
the part of the bishops by a diocesan censorship of books, and the
tendering of an oath to clergy and professors by which they were to
bind themselves to reject the errors denounced in the encyclical and

The danger was indeed a serious one. The Modernists had put
themselves forward as the champions of science, led to the
conclusions they defended by anxiety for scientific truth. Their
movement from the point of view of many marked a religious reaction
against the materialism and positivism which had failed so signally
to satisfy longings of the human soul. It was a reaction in the right
direction which had taken the wrong road, which threatened to land
its votaries in a deeper ditch than that from which they had set out.
There was therefore an attractive side to its teaching, especially
for the young.

The storm raged hotly for a while round the pontiff who had spoken so
fearlessly; but a deep thanksgiving was in the hearts of those who
could see the issues at stake. "In his dealings with France," wrote
one of these, "the Holy Father saved, so to speak, the body of the
Church, but now he has saved her soul." "The pope has spoken,
Modernism has ceased to be," wrote Paul Bourget a year or two later.
"Five years ago," wrote Monsignor R. H. Benson on the death of Pius
X, "it was proclaimed that by his action thought was once more thrown
back into the fetters from which it was shaking itself loose, and
that Rome henceforward must be considered as finally out of the
struggle; that once more she had feared to face the light, and held
back or cast out those of her children who honestly desired it. And
now there is practically not a Christian anywhere--a Christian, that
is to say, in the historic sense of the word, who believes that
Christ's mission lay in the revelation which He promulgated, and not
merely in the impulse which His coming gave to spiritual aspiration--
there is not a Christian in this sense, however far his sympathies
may be from the Catholic interpretation of the contents of that
revelation, who does not acknowledge that Pius stood firm where their
religious leaders faltered or temporized; and that Rome, under his
leadership, placed herself on the side of plain Gospel truth, of the
authority of Holy Scripture and of the divinity of Christ."



A personal friend of Pius X was speaking to him one day with
indignation of the abuse levelled at him by a Modernist writer. The
pope's answer was as characteristic as the smile that accompanied it.
"Come," he said, "did he not allow that after all I was a good
priest? Now, of all praise, that is the only one I have ever valued."

"A man who hid a boundless ambition under a pretence of humility,"
wrote another opponent. And in one sense most certainly Pius X was a
man of ambition, an ambition that had taken shape within him as he
knelt before the altar of the cathedral of Castelfranco to receive
the priesthood with all that it entailed. Study, prayer, labour,
self-denial and unlimited self-devotion; charity, poverty and
loyal-hearted obedience--all these were part of that ambition--the
ambition to be a good and fervent priest, to walk in the footsteps of
his Master. It had been his guiding star through life; he had
sacrificed everything to it; and in a certain sense it was true that
this ambition, realized most perfectly in his holy life, had placed
him against his will on the chair of Peter.

A noble and worthy priesthood, according to his first encyclical, was
to be one of the means towards that restoring of all things in Christ
"which was to heal the wounds of the world." "The priest is the
representative of Christ on earth," he said on one occasion to the
students of the French College in Rome; "he must think the thoughts
of Christ and speak His words. He must be tender as Christ was
tender, pure and holy like his Lord; he must shine like a star in the
world." This was not easy, he acknowledged; it needed a long
preparation of study, of self-discipline and of prayer. The spiritual
weapons must be well tempered for the combat, for the fight would be
hard and long. "A holy priest makes holy people," he said on another
occasion; "a priest who is not holy is not only useless but harmful
to the world."

And it was not only the cultivation of virtue on which he insisted,
but the cultivation of the mind also. The man who all his life had
curtailed his hours of sleep in order to study, had done it to
perfect his priesthood, to fit himself to cope with the dangers that
were abroad, to be armed at every point against error. Although his
enemies were never tired of asserting that he was ignorant and
unlettered, and he himself was quite ready to let the world believe
it, his knowledge and the extent of his learning could not be
concealed. Those who came in contact with him and his personal work
could not be otherwise than impressed with his depth of thought, the
extent of his reading, his literary and classical training, and his
strong grasp of philosophy and theology. His wide and far-reaching
appreciation of men and things in different countries all over the
world was astonishing in a man who had not travelled, as many
statesmen often remarked after conversing with him. He read French
perfectly, although he felt shy at attempting to speak it. He was an
excellent accountant. The delicacy and nobility of his dealings with
others were unequalled.

"In order that Christ may be formed in the faithful," said Pius in
his first encyclical, "He must first be formed in the priest," and
with this end in view he set himself to the task which lay before
him. The first six years of his pontificate were chiefly spent in
work which concerned the priesthood and sacerdotal institutions.
Uniform rules of study, discipline and ecclesiastical education were
given to all the seminaries of Italy, which were to be inspected
carefully from time to time by apostolic men, who had at heart the
perfection of the priesthood. Small seminaries in dioceses incapable
of supporting them on these lines were suppressed. Bishops were
exhorted to further the work by all the means in their power; care
was to be taken in the selection of candidates for the priesthood,
who, after a thorough training in the seminary, were to be wisely
directed in the first exercise of their ministry, safeguarded against
the errors of the day, and encouraged to keep up their studies
without detriment to their active work. The Academy of St. Thomas in
Rome and the Catholic Institute of Paris won special praise for the
excellence and thoroughness of their teaching. Special regulations
were laid down for the examination of those about to be ordained. The
study of Holy Scripture was to be pursued in the seminaries during
the four years of the theological course, while especially gifted
students were to be set apart for more advanced studies. On those who
were already, or about to be ordained, the pope enjoined constant and
fervent prayer, daily meditation on the eternal truths, the attentive
reading of good books, especially of the Bible, and diligent
examination of conscience. The priest was to stand forth as an
example to all by the integrity of his life, his deference and
obedience to legitimate authority, his patient charity with all men.
It was not by a bitter zeal that they would gain souls to God; they
must reprove, entreat, rebuke, but in all patience; their charity
must be patient and kind with all men, even with those who were their
open enemies. "Such an example," said Pius X, "will have far more
power to move hearts and to gain them than words or dissertations,
however sublime." "The renewal of the priesthood," wrote the pope a
little before the celebration of his sacerdotal jubilee in 1908,
"will be the finest and most acceptable gift that the clergy can
offer to us."

The gift that he himself bestowed on the priesthood on this fiftieth
anniversary of his ordination was the wonderful Exhortation to the
Catholic Clergy, published on August 4th, 1908. Every word of it was
his own, embodying the wisdom and experience of a lifetime spent in
God's service. The exhortation set before the clergy of the world the
model of "the man of God"--the perfect parish priest. Its fervent and
eloquent appeal to the clergy to show themselves worthy of their high
calling, by being truly the "salt of the earth and the light of the
world," is followed by a clear and practical exposition of the means
necessary to attain this great end. His ministry must be in deed as
well as in word. He must remember that he is not only the servant but
the friend of Christ, who has chosen him that he may go and bring
forth much fruit. And as friendship consists in unity of mind and
will, it is the first duty of a priest to study the mind and will of
his Master, so as to conform himself in all things to them. Stress is
laid on the necessity of cultivating the "passive" virtues--those
which perfect the character of the man himself--as well as the more
active ones which are called forth by contact with other people. The
exhortation, written for priests, by one who was a model of all
priestly virtues, and given from the chair of the Apostle, is a
perfect rule of life for every priest who aspires to holiness.

Once more he recommended, as he had so often done before, preaching
to the people plain and simple gospel truths rather than flowery and
rhetorical sermons. Once more, but this time as head on earth of the
Universal Church, he insisted on the necessity of clear and simple
instruction in Christian doctrine to adults and children alike, again
reiterating his conviction that the growth of unbelief was largely
due to ignorance of what Christ's teaching was.

"It is in a time of sore stress and difficulty," he writes in his
encyclical of 1905 on this subject, "that the mysterious counsel of
divine Providence has raised up our littleness to bear the office of
chief shepherd over the whole flock of Christ . . . . It is a common
complaint . . . that in this age there are very many Christian people
who live in utter ignorance of those things, the knowledge whereof is
necessary for their eternal salvation . . . we do not only mean the
masses and those in the lower walks of life . . . but those who,
though not without talent and culture, abound in the wisdom of the
world, and are utterly reckless and foolish in matters of religion.
. . . They hardly ever think of the supreme Maker and Ruler of all
things, or of the wisdom of the Christian faith . . . they in no wise
understand the malice and foulness of sin . . . a great many . . .
fall into endless evil through ignorance of those mysteries of faith
which those who would be counted among the elect must needs know and

"The erring will of man has need of a guide who shall show it the way
. . . this guide is the mind. But if the mind itself be lacking true
light . . . it will be a case of the blind leading the blind, and
both will fall into the ditch . . . . Only the teaching of Jesus
Christ makes us understand the true and wondrous dignity of man . . .
and is it not the teaching of Jesus Christ again that inspires in
proud man the lowliness of mind which is the origin of all true
glory? From it we learn the prudence of the spirit whereby we may
shun the prudence of the flesh, the justice whereby we may give to
everyone his due, the fortitude whereby we are made ready to endure
all things and may suffer with gladness for the sake of God and
eternal happiness; and the temperance by which we may love poverty
itself for the kingdom of God, and may even glory in the Cross,
despising the shame . . . . Since then such dire evils flow from
ignorance of religion and . . . the necessity of religious
instruction is so great, because no one can hope to fulfil the duties
of a Christian without knowing them, it remains to ask whose duty it
is to destroy this deadly ignorance in people's minds and to teach
them this necessary knowledge."

The answer is obvious--that duty falls on the priesthood, and this
the pope clearly points out. "There is nothing nearer or dearer than
this to the heart of Jesus Christ," he continues, "who said of
Himself through the lips of Isaias, 'to preach the Gospel to the poor
He hath sent me'."

Having laid down in urgent words the duty of the shepherds to feed
the flock committed to their care, the pope expounds the mission of
the catechist, and its power for good. He quotes the words of St.
Gregory the Great on the Apostles of Christ. "They took supreme care
to preach to the ignorant things easy and intelligible, not sublime
and arduous," ending with the saying of St. Peter, "as every man hath
received grace, ministering the same one to another, as good stewards
of the manifold grace of God."

To Pius X the Divine Office had always been a work of predilection.
It is said that as a child he had often seen Cardinal Monico with his
Breviary in his hands, and had wondered vaguely what beautiful
stories there could be in the book that so engrossed his attention.
And when in later days he opened it for the first time himself his
childish dreams found their fulfilment. For the Breviary is the story
of the Church and her saints, and the whole Psalter enwraps it like a
glory. It was to the treasures of that great book that he went all
his life for his morning meditation until he knew it as one knows the
heart of a friend. And loving it with the love of a true friend, and
seeing faults amidst its beauties, he would let it also share in "the
restoring of all things in Christ." For over four hundred years a
redistribution of the Psalter throughout the week had been sighed
for, but every scheme had failed. Pius appointed a commission to deal
with this problem, giving certain general lines on which to base the
reform, and in a few years the new Breviary was issued. The
rearrangement secured the recitation of the whole Psalter once a
week, the length of the office on Sundays and ferias was reduced,
while the complexities of the calendar were simplified.

"No one can fail," wrote the pope, "to be stirred by those numerous
passages of the Psalms which proclaim so loudly the immense majesty
of God, His omnipotence, His unutterable justice, His goodness and
clemency . . . . Who can fail to be inspired . . . by those
thanksgivings for God's benefits, by those lowly and trustful prayers
for benefits desired, by those cries of the penitent soul deploring
its sins? Who is not kindled with love for the picture of Christ the
Redeemer so lovingly shadowed forth, whose voice Augustine heard in
all the Psalms, praising or mourning, rejoicing in hope or longing
for accomplishment? With good reason was provision made in past ages
by decrees of the Roman pontiffs, canons of councils, and monastic
laws that both sections of the clergy should chant or recite the
whole Psalter every week." The pope spoke of the many pleas that had
reached him that the old custom might be restored, and of the work
that had been done to this effect, which was but a prelude to a
further emendation of the Breviary and the Missal.

The reform of the Roman Curia was another undertaking, which did much
to simplify the government of the Church. The various Roman
Congregations were founded by Sixtus V to study questions submitted
to the decision of the pope and to deal with any legal questions that
might arise; and as persons of experience and mature judgement alone
should deal with these matters, various committees were formed, each
of which attended to its own particular branch of business. But the
organization of the different congregations needed to be adapted to
the requirements of the present day. Pius X, with the practical
spirit which distinguished all his undertakings, completely
remodelled the curia, fixing the number of congregations at thirteen,
and defining clearly the work of each. The constitution "Sapienti
consilio" on this matter instituted also many other important reforms
in the tribunals and offices of the curia.

The purchase of the Palazzo Mariscotti, assigned to the Cardinal
Vicar of Rome, enabled Pius X to carry out another long-cherished
plan, for the thorough reform of his own diocese, inadequate in its
organization to the needs of the present day. Want of space, which
had been the chief difficulty in the way of reorganization, having
been thus supplied for, the necessary reforms were at once set on
foot. In many other important matters the needs of modern times
called for the simplification and amendment of methods that had
become obsolete. The reform and codification of canon law was another
laborious work carried on by the pope for eleven years, and brought
to a conclusion under his successor Benedict XV.

With affectionate interest the pope watched the progress of
Catholicism in England. "If there is any Church in the whole
Christian world," he wrote in January 1912, on the occasion of the
founding of the two new ecclesiastical provinces of Birmingham and
Liverpool, "which merits the special care and forethought of the
Apostolic See, it is certainly the Church of the English, which,
happily founded among the Britons by St. Eleutherius[*] and still
more happily established through apostolic men by Gregory the Great,
was subsequently made famous by the numbers of its children
distinguished by the holiness of their lives or by the martyr's death
courageously suffered for Christ."

[*] History scholars seem now agreed that the story of a mission sent
to Britain by Pope St. Eleutherius in the later second century rests
on a misunderstanding. Christianity was certainly introduced into
Britain during the Roman occupation, but the circumstances are not

"It is with the greatest pleasure that I greet you, my dear children
of Great Britain," he said at an audience given to four hundred
English pilgrims presented to him by Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of
Westminster, "worthy descendants of your Catholic forefathers who
during ten centuries remained constantly faithful to the Church and
the Holy See, and who by the purity of their faith and by personal
holiness gave many saints to God. And although through the blind
passion of an unworthy king your country fell into schism, the Faith
is still alive in her midst, for are you not the children of those
valiant Christians . . . who gave their lives for the truth, and won
for Great Britain her title of the Island of Saints?"

The beatification of Joan of Arc in April 1909 was one more token of
the pope's love of another country that had given so much for God,
and the presence in Rome of forty thousand of her children was a
further proof of her true spirit. And when, borne in the _sedia
gestatoria_ through the crowd, the Holy Father, leaning forward,
lifted the fold of the French flag that had been lowered at his
passage and reverently kissed it, the enthusiasm knew no bounds. That
flag had stood for much that was not noble; the memory of its origin
was still in the minds of many. But by that kiss it was consecrated
for ever.

Monsignor Blanc, a Marist missionary in Oceania, wrote thus to his
clergy after an audience with Pius X: "My attention was completely
captivated by his expression and his eyes. I could not tell you what
the room was like nor what the Holy Father wore; I could see nothing
but those eyes, and the light of them I shall never forget. He made
me sit beside him, and I spoke of our people, our natives, the
country that I love. If the life of the missionary is sometimes hard,
let us remember that the pope has said 'the missions are my great
consolation.' He was full of interest in all I had to tell him of
your work, your zeal and your devotedness. I spoke of our schools and
he was delighted. 'Tell them to devote themselves there without
counting the cost,' he said: 'it is the most important thing of all."
With touching graciousness and cordiality he gave his blessing to
you, to our people, to all for whom I asked it."

"You cannot go near him without loving him," said another priest,
"his kindness and sweetness are irresistible." Father Boevey Crawley,
a South American priest and an ardent apostle of devotion to the
Sacred Heart of Jesus, went to Rome to obtain the pope's blessing on
his mission. His story was a strange one. Attacked while quite young
by a serious form of heart disease, he was sent to Paris to consult a
specialist. The American doctors had told him that he had but a few
months to live; the Paris specialist confirmed their verdict. Father
Crawley had an overwhelming devotion to the Sacred Heart and to St.
Margaret Mary. He went straight to Paray-le-Monial to ask through her
intercession the grace of a holy death. Scarcely had he knelt in the
chapel when he felt himself shaken from head to foot. He was cured.
That night while kneeling in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament he
received a divine intimation that he was to go forth and conquer the
world, family by family, to love the Sacred Heart. To preach love was
henceforward to be his mission, for what is devotion to the Sacred
Heart but love of the love of Christ? The conversion of his father,
who was a Protestant, was the first fruit of his apostolate.

Kneeling at the pope's feet, he told him the story of his life,
asking permission to begin the work to which he was called. Pius
listened with the deepest interest. Then, "No, my son," he said, "I
do not give you permission."

Father Crawley looked up at him in consternation; the pope's eyes
were shining, and there was a little smile lurking in the corners of
his mouth. "But, Holy Father . . ." pleaded the priest.

"No," repeated the pope, "I do not give you permission."--"I do not
give you permission," he said again. "I _order_ you to do it. You
hear? I am the pope, and I command it. It is a splendid work; let
your whole life be consecrated to it."

"He had the greatest heart that it was possible for a human being to
have," was said of Pius X, not once but many times. Even for
treachery he had no condemnation. A betrayal of trust which had
affected him deeply came to his knowledge after the death of the
culprit. Folding his hands he prayed silently for the departed soul.
"He is dead," he said gently, "may he rest in peace." He met with a
sad smile an indignant accusation of treachery against one who was
still living, an accusation which could not be denied. "Traitor is a
hard word," he said, "let us say that he is a man of many skins--like
an onion . . . ."

One more picture drawn from life. A young priest, tortured by doubts,
knelt shaken with sobs at the pope's feet. The white figure bent
compassionately over the kneeling man, the strong and gentle hands of
the Holy Father held the head of the suppliant closely to his heart.
"Faith, faith, faith," repeated the ringing voice over and over
again. "Faith, my son, must be your place of refuge."



As a young parish priest at Salzano, Giuseppe Sarto during the
cholera epidemic of 1873 had been the stay and comfort of his people.
Consoling the grief-stricken, nursing the sick, burying the dead,
utterly regardless of his own safety, his one thought had been for
his suffering parishioners. This compassion for every kind of pain or
sorrow was characteristic of him throughout his life. Not without
reason was it said that he had "the greatest heart of any man alive."
The very sight of suffering moved him to tears; there was no trouble
of body or soul that failed to awaken his sympathy.

While patriarch of Venice he was walking one day through one of the
poorest quarters of the city when suddenly from a house at the end of
a mean street arose the piercing cries of a child who was being
cruelly beaten by its mother. The cardinal strode down the street and
pulled the bell vigorously. A window opened overhead and from it
appeared the head of a. woman, a regular virago, crimson with fury
"Stop beating that child at once!" was the indignant mandate. The
woman, astounded at seeing the patriarch standing on her doorstep,
shut the window in confusion. For some time there was no more beating.

Anything like tyranny roused his instant indignation. When reports
too circumstantial to be doubted reached him about the condition of
certain Indian tribes in South America and of the atrocious treatment
to which they were forced to submit, the bishops of the country were
exhorted to do their utmost to put an end to what was nothing less
than a cruel slavery. "Every day I receive fresh news of the
persecution in Asia Minor and in Macedonia," he said one day
sorrowfully at a private audience. "How many poor Christians are
massacred! What cowardice and what barbarity are shown by this
Sultan, who trembles with fright and begs that he may not be put to
death, who is always whining 'I have never done anyone any harm!' He
had in his palace a secret room in which he himself killed his
victims, where only a week ago he put a young girl to death!" These
were some of the sorrows that wrung the heart of him "who bore the
care of all the churches."

All the calamities that befell the world awakened his sympathy,
earthquakes, floods, fires, railway accidents . . . . The sufferers
were comforted not only with kind words but with material help. Even
the papers least favourable to the Church noticed his personal
fatherly interest in the joys and sorrows of his people. His appeal
to the charity of Catholics on the occasion of the Calabrian
earthquake in 1908, which in a few moments totally destroyed Messina,
Reggio, Sille and the surrounding villages, burying more than 100,000
people in the ruins, met with a magnificent response. The sum of 7
million francs which was generously offered served to supply the
immediate needs of the survivors, who in many cases were left totally

But it was not only to make others give that Pius exerted himself; he
gave himself to the utmost of his power. The day after the Messina
disaster he sent people to investigate and report, to search out the
victims most urgently in need of help and care and to bring them to
Rome. Trainloads of sufferers arrived daily and were taken to the
papal hospice of Santa Marta, the pope making himself responsible for
over five hundred orphans. His Christlike compassion, his grand
initiative and masterly organization of relief won a burst of praise
in which even the anti-clerical syndic of Rome joined, while the
nations of Europe expressed their admiration. "This pope, of whom it
was said that his sole policy was the Gospel and the Creed, and his
sole diplomacy the Ten Commandments, fired the imagination of the
world by his apostolic fearlessness, his humility, his simplicity and
single-minded faith."

"Who that has seen him," wrote Monsignor Benson, "can ever forget the
extraordinary impression of his face and bearing, the kindness of his
eyes, the quick sympathy of his voice, the overwhelming fatherliness
that enabled him to bear not only his own supreme sorrows, but all
the personal sorrow which his children laid on him in such
abundance?" An irresistible impulse seemed to drive the suffering to
seek his presence and to ask his prayers, and they seldom failed to
find the help that they sought.

Perhaps it was his ardent desire to help and comfort pain of any
kind, united with personal holiness and fervent prayer, that made the
touch of his hand or even his blessing so strangely efficacious for
healing. The wonderful graces obtained through the prayers and the
touch of _Il santo_ were the talk of Rome; men and women who had seen
the marvels with their own eyes bore witness to the facts.

Rumours of what was happening came to the ears of Catholics in other
countries, and a young girl in England who had been reading the Acts
of the Apostles was seized with a great desire to go to Rome. Her
head and neck were covered with running sores which would not heal.
The shadow of St. Peter falling on the sick, she said, had cured
them; the shadow of his successor would cure her. Her mother took her
to Rome, where both were present at a public audience. The pope
passed slowly through the crowd, speaking a few words here and there
as he went. To the kneeling girl he said nothing, but as he blessed
her she felt that she was cured; and indeed, when on their return to
the hotel her mother removed the bandages she found that the sores
were completely healed.

More remarkable still because more public was the case of two
Florentine nuns, both suffering from an incurable disease. They made
the journey to Rome with great difficulty, and admitted to a private
audience, they begged the pope to cure them. "Why do you want to be
cured?" he asked.

"That we may work for God's glory," was the answer.

The pope laid his hands upon their heads and blessed them. "Have
confidence," he said, "you will get well and will do much work for
God's glory," and at the same moment they were restored to health.
Pius bade them keep silence as to what had happened, but the facts
spoke for themselves. At their entrance, the two nuns had hardly had
strength to drag themselves along; at their exit they walked like
strong and healthy women. Their cab driver, an unimaginative man of
sturdy common sense, refused to take them back to their convent.
"No," he said, "I will take back the two I brought or their dead

"But we are the two you brought," they insisted.

"No," repeated the vetturino, "the two I brought were half dead; you
are not in the least like them."

At another public audience was a man who carried his little son,
paralysed from birth and unable to stand. "Give him to me," said
Pius; and taking the child on his knee, he began to talk to another
group of pilgrims. A few minutes later the child slipped down from
the pope's knee and began to run about the room.

That the touch of a holy man, or the garments he has worn, or even
his shadow falling on the sick should have power to cure them, is
vouched for by Holy Scripture.[*] "Perhaps so," say some, "but the
age of miracles has passed." The age of miracles has not passed, nor
will it ever while there is faith on the earth; for faith, as Jesus
Christ Himself said, alone makes miracles possible. At Nazareth even
His almighty power could not work them, because of the unbelief of
the people. Where the age of faith has passed, the age of miracles
has passed with it, but in the Church of Christ they both endure.

[*] Acts v 15 and vi 12; Matt. xiii 58.

More marvellous still than the graces obtained by the touch of Pius X
were those obtained--sometimes at a great distance--by his blessing
and his prayers.

In one of the convents of the Sacred Heart in Ireland was a young nun
suffering from disease of the hip-bone. For eight months she had not
put her left foot to the ground, as any weight on it caused acute
pain. The disease was making rapid progress. In the October of 1912
the superioress of the convent, having heard of a cure obtained
through the prayers and blessing of the Holy Father, determined to
have recourse to him. She told a little girl of six, the daughter of
the convent carpenter, to write to the pope, asking him to bless the
dear Mother who was ill, and to pray for her. During the night of the
29th October the sick nun suddenly realized that the pain had
entirely left the injured hip--so entirely that she was able to turn
and lie on it. The next morning she sat up in bed and asked to be
allowed to try to walk. She got up, made her bed and walked to the
church, where she knelt for some time in prayer. It was then that she
was told of the letter to the pope. "I did not know what had
happened," she said, "all that I knew was that the pain was gone and
that I could walk."

A railway worker had a boy of two who lay dangerously ill of
meningitis. The doctor, who had given up all hope, asked the priest
to break the news to the young parents, who at once cried out, "We
will write to the pope! We used to go to confession to him at Mantua
when we were children; bishop as he was, he used to hear the
confessions of the poor." A letter was written and posted, and Pius
wrote with his own hand several lines in reply, bidding the young
couple pray and hope. On the following day the child had completely

These are only a few of the many graces obtained in the same way. The
cure of a Redemptoristine nun in the acute stages of cancer by the
application of a piece of stuff that had been worn by Pius X was
borne witness to by Cardinal Vives y Tuto. The sudden return to life
and speech of Don Rafael Merry del Val, father of the Cardinal
Secretary of State, at the prayer of his wife who, when death was
declared imminent, tried the same remedy; a French woman dying of
heart disease, who denied the very existence of God, was not only
healed by the pope's blessing, but reconciled to the Church and was
henceforward a fervent Catholic: these are only a few more of the
marvels wrought. Pope Pius did his best to hush the matter up. "I
have nothing to do with it," he continually exclaimed; "it is the
power of the keys."

"I hear that you are a _santo_ and work miracles," said a lady one
day, with more enthusiasm than tact.

"You have made a mistake in a consonant," replied the pope, laughing,
"it is a 'Sarto' that I am." No less witty was his reply to a man who
came to solicit a cardinal's hat for one of his friends. "But I
cannot give your friend a cardinal's hat," said the Holy Father. "I
am not a hatter, only a tailor" (_sarto_).

The Portuguese revolution in 1911 was a fresh heartbreak to the pope,
for the Portuguese Republic was bitterly anti-Catholic and
anti-clerical. The first action of its representatives was to expel
the religious orders and to confiscate their buildings and
belongings. This was done in the most brutal manner, nuns being
driven off to prison after their convents had been looted and some of
the inhabitants put to death. Many died of the privations endured,
while others testified to the humanity of their gaolers by going mad.
Religious instruction of any kind was prohibited in the government
schools; priests were arrested and imprisoned; the Bishop of Oporto
was driven from his diocese. The separation law of church and state
fell more heavily on the Church in Portugal than even that of France,
and its object was the elimination of the Christian faith from
Portuguese society.

These things fell heavily on the heart of the Father of Christendom,
who sorrowed with his sorrowing children, He protested against the
injustice in his encyclical "Jamdudum in Lusitania," in which he set
forth and condemned the oppressive measures of the republic. A
touching letter of thanks expressed the gratitude of the persecuted
clergy of Portugal for the pope's courageous protest. That some of
the harshest features of the law seemed in a fair way to be relaxed
during the years that followed was some small consolation to him.

In the spring of 1913 the health of the pope gave cause for anxiety,
an attack of influenza which had greatly weakened him being followed
by a relapse, with symptoms of bronchitis. From every part of the
world came assurances of prayers and sympathy, while in Rome the
anxiety felt by all lay like a weight on the city. But he made a
quick recovery. He was not a good patient, and his doctors had the
greatest difficulty in keeping him quiet. No sooner was he
convalescent than he accused them of being tyrants, whose only idea
was to make him waste the time that belonged to the Church. Over and
over again they would find that in their absence he had disobeyed
orders and received somebody or settled an urgent piece of business.

"Just think of our responsibility before the world!" said Dr. Amici
one day to his recalcitrant patient. "Just think of mine before God,"
was the energetic answer, "if I do not take care of His Church!" They
began to talk to him seriously, trying to make him promise to do as
he was told. "Come, come," said he with his irresistible smile,
"don't be cross; surely it is my interest to get well quite as much
as it is yours to make me so."

During the winter before this illness Rosa Sarto, the pope's eldest
sister, died. She had been with her brother nearly all his life,
having gone at the age of seventeen to keep house for him when he was
a curate at Tombolo, afterwards accompanying him to Salzano. During
the years when he had been at Treviso and Mantua she had lived with
her mother, until her death, after which she came to Venice with her
two younger sisters and her niece. On Cardinal Sarto's election to
the papacy the little group made their home in Rome in a small
apartment not far from the Vatican, where they led a quiet life of
charity and good works.

Those who went to pray beside the dead woman were equally struck by
the humble surroundings and the peace that prevailed there. A small
room, a common iron bedstead, a sweet, almost transparent old face
framed in a plain white cap, violets scattered here and there over
the body. The funeral took place at the church of St.
Laurence-outside-the-Walls, and all the cardinals in Rome were
present, together with a great crowd eager to do honour to one so
near and dear to the Holy Father. Her brother alone could not be
present. Following in spirit the funeral procession he knelt in his
private oratory praying for the soul of his sister. Telegrams from
every part of the world bore witness to the sympathy felt for the
sorrow of the pope who had made the sorrows of the world his own.
This demonstration of love and interest was a comfort to him in his
grief and touched him deeply.

But a fresh blow was in store in the sufferings of his children in
Mexico. Carranza had headed a revolution against Huerta, the
president of the Mexican Republic, An ex-bandit named Villa, who was
Carranza's chief supporter, soon turned against him and started a
counter-revolution of his own, followed by a systematic persecution
of religion. Many priests were forced to flee the country, ten
bishops crossed into the United States to save their people from a
favourite trick of the insurgents, who would arrest a bishop and,
relying on the people's love of their pastor, then demand an
exorbitant ransom. Horrible outrages followed; priests were shot,
hanged or thrown into prison; churches were converted into barracks,
the sacred vessels were carried off to the bar rooms as cups. The
venerable Archbishop of Durango was compelled to sweep the streets;
religious were shot for refusing to betray the hiding places of their
brethren, while the fate of many of the nuns is not to be described.
Although the revolutionary government set up a press bureau in the
United States to deny these facts and fill the mails with calumnies
against the Church, the truth became gradually known--not in all its
entirety until after the pope's death--but enough to wring the brave
old heart with a fresh pang of anguish . . . .

"The _sedia_ advanced," wrote one who was present about this time at
a service in St. Peter's, "bearing the pope aloft above the heads of
the people. He was in a red cope and a high golden mitre. His face
was sweet and sad; his soul, far away from all this show and
splendour, seemed lost in the contemplation of the distance that
separates the things of earth from the things of Heaven, while his
hand moved from side to side in blessing. The sadness was so deeply
engraved on that pensive face that it seemed as if no smile could
ever lighten it; truly he bore on his shoulders the weight of the
world's grief. Suddenly a movement in the crowd brought the
procession to a halt; the thoughtful face was raised as if the pope
had awakened from his contemplation; he bent forward. A smile of
infinite sweetness and kindness, like a ray of sunshine in a winter
sky, lit up for a moment those sad features, while beneath me I heard
two Italians murmur, 'O Father, dear, dear old Father!'"



At the private consistory held in May 1914, Pius X, alluding to the
consolation which had been afforded him by the celebration of the
sixteenth centenary of the Peace of Constantine the year before,
spoke words which in the light of later events might well have seemed

"During these months," he said, "the Catholic world, while confirming
its own faith, has presented to the suffering human race the Cross of
Christ as the only source of peace. To-day more than ever is that
peace to be desired, when class is set against class, nation against
nation; when interior conflicts by their increasing bitterness not
infrequently end in open hostility. The wisest and most experienced
men are devoting themselves to the betterment of human society,
trying to find some means of putting an end to the terrible massacres
entailed by war, to secure for the world the benefits of lasting
peace. Yet this excellent endeavour will remain almost or wholly
barren if at the same time an attempt is not made to establish in the
hearts of men the laws of justice and charity. The peace or the
strife of civil society and of the state depend less on those who
govern than on the people themselves. When the minds of men are shut
out from divine revelation, no longer restrained by the discipline of
the Christian law, what wonder if many, with blind desire, rush
headlong down the road to ruin, persuaded by leaders who think of
nothing but their own personal interests.

"The Church, made by her divine Founder the guardian of charity and
of truth, is the only power capable of saving the world. Would it not
then be better for the world, not only to allow her freely to fulfil
her mission, but to help her to do so? It is the contrary that
happens; the Church is too often looked upon as the enemy of the
human race, when she is in reality the mother of civilization.

"Yet this need not surprise us; we know that after the example of her
Founder, the Church, whose mission is to do good, is also destined to
bear injustice and contempt. Divine help will never fail her, even in
her darkest moments. Christ Himself has said it, history bears
witness to the fact."

The Catholic world was busy at this time over preparation for the
twenty-fifth national eucharistic congress, which was to be held at
Lourdes from the 22nd to the 26th of July. The pope had appointed
Cardinal Granito di Belmonte as legate to the congress, and his last
pontifical brief was written on this subject. "Never," he wrote, "has
Mary ceased to show that motherly love which till her last breath she
poured forth so fully upon the bride that her divine Son purchased
with His precious blood. It might indeed be said that her sole work
was to care for the Christian people, to lead all minds to the love
of Jesus and zeal in His service. May the divine Author and preserver
of the Church look upon that noble part of His flock, which is
afflicted to-day by so many calamities: may He stimulate the generous
virtue and willingness of the good and, pouring out the fire of His
love, revive the half-dead faith of those who now barely retain the
name of Christian. This, in our fatherly love for the French people,
we most earnestly ask of God through the Immaculate Virgin."

The congress was one of the greatest that has ever been held. Every
country, even the furthest, could boast its representative. Never, it
was said, had men of so many nations been seen together in one place;
the confusion of tongues was like Babel. Clergy and lay folk of every
age, rank and race came flocking from every quarter, all moved by one
impulse--devotion to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

It was scarcely more than three weeks before the opening of this
congress when the news of the murder at Serajevo of the Austrian
Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife came like a thunder-clap upon
the world. Serbia was at once accused by Austria of complicity in the
crime, and a drastic note, to be answered within forty-eight hours,
was presented for her acceptance. Of the policy which caused this
move, and of the powers behind it, this is not the place to speak.

The pope, to whom the text of the Note was officially communicated by
the Austro-Hungarian government, foresaw clearly the catastrophe that
must follow. The papal nuncios received instructions to do all in
their power to avert an international conflict, but it was too late
to prevent the calamity; all efforts were in vain. By midnight on
August 4, the eleventh anniversary of the pope's election, Austria,
Serbia, Russia, Germany, Belgium, France and Great Britain were at

The blow fell crushingly on the pope, whose heart was heavy with the
thought of all the sufferings that war would bring in its train. The
representative of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy asked him in the
emperor's name to bless the armies of the dual empire. "I bless
peace, not war," was the stern reply.[*]

[*] This story is quite in keeping with Pius X's character, but the
evidence for its factual truth is not altogether satisfactory.

The exhortation to the Catholics of the world, published in the
_Osservatore Romano_ of the 2nd of August, was a touching expression
of the Holy Father's sorrow: "While nearly all Europe is being
dragged into the whirlpool of a most deadly war, of whose dangers,
bloodshed and consequences no one can think without grief and alarm,
we too cannot but be anxious and feel our soul rent by the most
bitter grief for the safety and lives of so many citizens and so many
peoples for whose welfare we are supremely solicitous. Amid this
tremendous upheaval and danger we deeply feel and realize that our
fatherly charity and our apostolic ministry demand that we direct
men's minds to Him from whom alone help can come, to Christ, the
Prince of Peace, and man's all-powerful Mediator with God. Therefore
we exhort the Catholics of the whole world to turn confidently to His
throne of grace and mercy; let the clergy lead the way by their
example and by appointing special prayer in their parishes, under the
order of the bishops, that God may be moved to pity, and may remove
as soon as possible the disastrous torch of war and inspire the
rulers of the nations with thoughts of peace and not of affliction."

When the pope appeared to bless the crowds gathered in the Cortile di
San Damaso on the same day, it was noticed that an expression of the
deepest sadness replaced the usual kind smile of welcome. "My poor
children! My poor children!" he exclaimed sorrowfully as despatch
after despatch confirmed the rumours of fresh mobilizations. All
the bishops who visited him during those sad days were urged to start
a crusade of prayer in their dioceses to avert the impending
disaster. Groups of pilgrims were received during the week, but
blessed in silence; no public address was given by the pope: the
awful burden of the world's tragedy weighed too heavily on his heart.
Night and day he prayed and suffered, trying to think of some way of
bringing peace out of the conflict.

The rumour that the pope was ill was spread about on the feast of the
Assumption. As a matter of fact, he was merely feeling indisposed,
and had suspended his usual audiences. His doctor, usually inclined
to be over-careful, and his sisters, always over-anxious, looked on
his illness as of no importance, and evinced not the slightest

On Tuesday, the 17th of August, as the Cardinal Secretary of State,
himself unwell, was unable to go to his usual daily audience, the
pope sent him a message assuring him that he was all right. "_Dica al
Cardinale_," he said, "_che stia bene, perche quando sta male lui, sto
male io_!"[*] His sisters saw him on the Tuesday evening, and went
home after leaving a message for the cardinal that the Holy Father
was doing well, and would be all right in the morning. He had been at
his writing-table as usual, and had received a Franciscan friar, who
left him without any idea that he was ill. During the night of
Wednesday, the 18th, he became very much worse, and at eight o'clock
in the morning was declared to be seriously ill, though the doctor
had not given up all hope. A few hours later it was announced that
the pope was dying.

[*] "Tell the cardinal to get well, for when he is ill I am ill too."

Those of the cardinals who could be present, hastily summoned, knelt
around him, unable to restrain their tears. The pope lay, or rather
sat, propped up with pillows and breathing with difficulty; his
sisters were by his side, a Brother of St. John of God in attendance
as nurse. The last consecutive words he had spoken were to his
confessor; "I resign myself completely," he said, after which his
answers to the prayers grew fainter and fainter until they ceased

"One was not conscious of time and it was all unreal," wrote one who
was present. "Suddenly the deep notes of St. Peter's great bell
boomed out, tolling '_pro pontifice agonizzante_,' and at that signal
Exposition began in all the patriarchal basilicas, with special
prayers. The hot _scirocco_, the buzz from the Piazza San Pietro far
below, whispering prelates and attendants, the boom of the bell--how
strange it all seemed; and behind everything the catastrophe of the
present public situation and war."

So the hours of the afternoon wore on into the night. The pope could
not speak, but he recognized those who approached him, received the
clasp of their hands with an answering pressure, raised his own to
bless them, and from time to time made slowly on his brow and breast
a long sign of the cross. At a little after 1.15 a.m., in deepest
peace and calm, Pius X passed away.

He died as he had lived, quietly and simply; and few strangers, had
they seen the plain, austerely furnished bedroom where he lay,
majestic in death, could have believed that this was the
death-chamber of a pope. Opposite the bed, which was surrounded by
four great candles, stood an altar, where from the small hours of the
morning Mass succeeded Mass; two Noble Guard were on duty beside the
dead pontiff. The grief felt for his loss was deep and universal;
cardinals, prelates, servants, all sorts and conditions of men, wept
openly as they went about their duties. Diplomats expressed in
heartfelt accents to Cardinal Merry del Val their admiration,
veneration and love for the saintly pope who had passed away. "The
whitest soul in this blood-stained tempest-torn world has left us,"
wrote an Italian prelate to a friend. "The Holy Father has died of a
broken heart," said another.

The body of the pope lay in state in the Sala del Trono and
afterwards was carried to St. Peter's, where it was placed in the
chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, raised aloft and visible to the
crowd. A continuous stream of people passed through the basilica,
getting thicker and thicker as the day went on. Pius X had asked that
he might be buried in the crypt of St. Peter's, absolutely forbidding
the embalming of his body. His wish was carried out on the 23rd of

"The will of the Holy Father," said one of the cardinals, "is the
will of a saint." Opening with an invocation of the Blessed Trinity
and an expression of confidence in the mercy of Almighty God, it
continued thus: "I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to
die poor." A sum not exceeding £12 a month was left to his sisters,
and 48s. a month to his valet, while a legacy of £400 was bequeathed
to his nephews and nieces, subject to the approval of the next pope.
The maintenance of 400 orphans, victims of the Messina earthquake of
1908 and undertaken by the Holy Father, was also provided for.

"Pius X has left his mark on the world," wrote Monsignor Benson in
_The Tablet_ of August 29th, "perhaps more than any pontiff of the
last four centuries. That humble cry of sorrow, which, we are told,
broke from him only a few days ago when he deplored his impotence to
check the madness of Europe, indeed witnessed to the great historical
lesson that those who reject the arbitration of Christ's Vicar and
the elementary principles of Christian justice will surely
reap--indeed are already reaping--the bitter fruits of disobedience;
but along other lines he has done more than any predecessor of his
since the days of that great schism to reconcile by love those who
throw over authority; and the secret of it all lies in exactly that
which he would be the last to recognize--namely, the personal
holiness and devotion of his own character . . . .

"It is a wonderful consolation to realize how, for the first time
perhaps for centuries, the Shepherd of the flock has succeeded in
making his voice heard, and a part, at least, of his message
intelligible among the sheep that are not of his fold. Pontiff after
pontiff has spoken that same message, and pontiff after pontiff has
been, without the confines of his own flock, little more than a voice
crying in the wilderness. Now, for the first time, partly no doubt
through the breaking down of obstinate prejudice, but chiefly through
the particular accents of the voice that spoke and the marvellous
personality of the speaker, that message has become audible, and Pius
X has succeeded where diplomacy and even sanctity of another
complexion have failed. Men have recognized the transparent love of
the Pastor where they have been deaf to the definitions of the
Pontiff; they have at any rate paused to listen to the appeals of
their Father, when they have turned away from the authority of the
_Rector mundi_."

Nor was it the Catholic press alone that paid tribute to the holy
life and noble aims of the dead pope. "All men who hold sincere and
personal holiness in honour," said _The Times_, "will join with the
Roman Catholic Church in her mourning for the Pontiff she has lost.
The policy of Pius X has had many critics, not all of them outside
the Church he ruled, but none has ever questioned the transparent
honesty of his convictions or refused admiration for his priestly
virtues. Sprung from the people, he loved and understood them as only
a good parish priest can do. That was the secret of the love which he
won amongst them from the first, and which at Venice made him a great
popular power. Not that he ever courted popularity; he taught them as
one having authority and could insist upon obedience. But the Roman
Church mourns in him something more than a saintly priest and a great
bishop; in him she also deplores a great pope. In the spheres of
church politics his reign has witnessed grievous disasters. It has
seen the separation of church and state in France and in Portugal,
and the whole process of 'dechristianizing' national and social life,
of which that measure was the symbol. Unprejudiced judges cannot
blame a pope for rejecting all compromise with a policy which, on the
admission of its authors, was deliberately aimed at the destruction
of the faith which it was his mission to uphold. Compromise, it has
been said, ought to have been possible, but there are principles
which Rome cannot waive or abate. Pius X conceived that such
principles were jeopardized in all the accommodations with the new
system which were suggested to him. It was no light thing for him to
impose upon the faithful clergy of France and of Portugal a course
which brought to them the loss of their revenues, their homes, and
even of all legal right in their churches. But his decision was to
him not a question of expediency, but of right and wrong. He gave it
in accordance with the dictates of his conscience, and the wonderful
obedience which the priests whom it impoverished have shown to his
commands has filled with a just pride his children throughout the
world . . . . His reform of church music was in the main a return to
the pure and noble manner of the best masters of the sixteenth
century . . . . His zeal for establishing the true text of the
Vulgate--the 'authorized version' of Latin Christianity--illustrates
in yet another field the plain practical nature of his mind . . . .
The sweeping condemnation of 'Modernism' was the most conspicuous act
of his pontificate within the domain of dogma. It was a consequence
of his position and of his character as inevitable as his repudiation
of compromise with the secularism of M. Combe or M. Briand. Few
persons familiar with the elementary doctrines of the Roman Church
could suppose that the tendencies of the new school were compatible
with them. To the downright plain sense of the pope the desperate
efforts of men who had explained away the content of historical
Christianity to present themselves as orthodox Roman Catholics were
simply disingenuous .... The elevation of Giuseppe Sarto to the most
ancient and most venerable throne in Europe is a striking
illustration of the democratic side of the Roman Church to which she
has largely owed her power . . . . The story is not without its
lessons for statesmen and for educationists. The Church did not
attempt universal education, but by her monastic schools, her
bursaries and her seminaries she set up a ladder leading to the most
exalted of all her dignities for the most fit. It was long since a
peasant's son had won the Triple Crown. In this, as in so much
besides, the reign of Pope Pius X was a return to the past."

In the crypt of St. Peter's the then last pope, who was a peasant,
was laid close to the sepulchre of the First, who was a fisherman.
This was the inscription on his tomb:



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