Feast Day of August 21
Pope St. Pius X (Latin: Pius PP. X) (June 2, 1835—August 20, 1914), born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was the 257th Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, reigning from 1903 to 1914, succeeding Pope Leo XIII (1878–1903). He was the first Pope since Pope Pius V (1566–72) of the Counter-Reformation to be canonized.
Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born June 2, 1835 in Riese, province of Treviso (Veneto), Italy. Giuseppe's childhood was one of poverty, being the son of the village postman. Though poor, his parents valued education, and Giuseppe walked 6 kilometers to school each day.
On September 18, 1858, Giuseppe Sarto was ordained a priest, and became chaplain at Tombolo. In 1867, he was named Archpriest of Salzano. He became popular with the people when he worked to assist the sick during the cholera plague that swept into northern Italy in the early 1870s. In 1875 he was made Canon (or Chancellor) of the Cathedral and Diocese of Treviso, holding offices such as spiritual director, rector of the Treviso seminary, and examiner of the clergy. As Chancellor he made it possible for public school students to receive religious instruction.
After 1880, Sarto taught dogmatic theology and moral theology at the seminary in Treviso. On November 10, 1884, he was raised to the episcopate as Bishop of Mantua. Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal in a secret consistory on June 12, 1893. Three days after this, Cardinal Sarto was publicly named Patriarch of Venice.
On July 20, 1903, Leo XIII died. Cardinal Sarto was elected to be the 257th Bishop of Rome. Sarto took as his Papal name Pius X.
The pontificate of Pius X was noted for its conservative theology and reforms in liturgy and church law. Pius X reformed the Roman Curia, established regional seminaries (closing some smaller ones), and promulgated a new plan of seminary study. He also barred clergy from administering social organizations.
As secular authority challenged that of the papacy, Pius X suspended the Opera dei Congressi, which coordinated the work of Catholic associations in Italy, as well as condemned Le Sillon, a French social movement that tried to reconcile the Church with liberal political views.
In 1913 Pius X suffered a heart attack. He died on 20 August 1914.