St. Pius X: Restorer of the Church

August 28, 2014
Source: District of the USA

Some extracts from the excellent biography about Pope St. Pius X.

St. Pius X: Restorer of the Church is an excellent biography! You can get a sense of the quality of Yves Chiron's extensive research into the life of St. Pius X from the extracts offered on AP's Blog, of which we provide a few here.

Extracts from Pope St. Pius X: Restorer of the Church

At the Padua seminary

In 1850 Giuseppe entered the Padua seminary. There was nothing unexpected about this. For a long time young Sarto had shown himself to be a pious boy, attracted by the Church. Every evening, in Riese, he went to the church to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We have already spoken of his devotion, since childhood, to the Madonna delle Cendrole. At Castefranco, when he was staying with the Finazzi family, he had improvised a little altar in a corner of his room and he played at celebrating Mass using items made for him by Signora Finazzi. He was full of admiration for the Riese priests, Don Fusarini and Don Jacuzzi.


He was 15 on arriving at the seminary. Before beginning clerical studies properly so called, he had to complete his general school education at the Collegio Tornacense Campion which was lodged in the seminary building. As required by the Council of Trent, the pupils of the ecclesiastical colleges, “so that they should be more easily formed in ecclesiastical discipline, shall immediately and henceforth wear the tonsure and the clerical habit.” So, on September 19, 1850, Giuseppe received the ecclesiastical habit in the church of Riese from the hands of Don Fusarini, the parish priest. From now on he was an abatino, a young abbe. His mother told Giuseppe’s brother and sisters henceforth to speak to him with the formal form of address as a sign of respect for the priest he would one day become. On November 13, accompanied by his father, Giuseppe traveled to Padua. He would stay there for eight years, only coming to Riese for the summer holidays.


The young priest's debut

Don Sarto arrived in Tombolo on Saturday evening, and the next day he celebrated his first Mass and gave his first sermon there. Before beginning the Gospel of the day, he addressed his parishioners and asked them to be “indulgent” and “patient” with him; at the same time he expressed his determination to “take care” of their souls and to teach them the way which leads to Paradise.

On November 29 Don Sarto began his priestly ministry. The parish priest, Don Antonio Costantini, had been appointed to Tombolo the year before. He was only 14 years older than his curate, but his health would be soon in rapid decline. He was a good theologian, an expert in casuistics, and he was also very well versed in Gregorian chant. Under his direction Don Sarto continued his priestly formation; he was given advice about how to preach: in the morning, when the church was empty, the parish priest got his curate to go up into the pulpit and listened to him preach, and then gave his comments on his preaching, showing him how to be simple and clear, and encouraging him to overcome his fear of speaking in public.


Don Sarto, a devoted curate, an eloquent preacher, also showed himself to be a priest of an immense charity. There are innumerable incidents, reported in abundance in the process for his beatification. Anyone who came to knock on his door could count on being helped, rarely with money—for the curate had little of it—but most often with some gift in kind. The curate would give anything he had: linen, a measure of cereals or a piece of meat (even if it was already cooking in the pot!). And when he really had nothing, he would put his few precious objects in the pawnshop in Castelfranco or Cittadella. So it was that a silver table-setting, given to him by parents whose children he had taught, was sent to the pawnshop and recovered several times, together with a little silver clock he had been given by someone else.

To everyone, the curate of Tombolo was not “Don Sarto” but, more affectionately, “Don Beppi.” The young priest was too well aware of the social necessities to think that individual charity was sufficient. When he became Bishop of Mantua and then Patriarch of Venice, and subsequently Pope, he was very active in encouraging and organizing various social projects for the protection and improvement of the most needy. As curate of Tombolo he started a modest work, but one of great usefulness: with the help of the village schoolmaster, he began an evening course for the illiterate, both children and adults.