Pope Saint Pius X
(2 June 1835 - 20 August 1914)
Ordination: 18 September 1858
by Giovanni Antonio Farina
Consecration: 16 November 1884
by Lucido Maria Parocchi
Created Cardinal: 12 June 1893
by Leo XIII
Feast day: 21 August
3 September (General Roman Calendar 1955–1969)
Beatified: 3 June 1951
Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
by Pius XII
Canonized: 29 May 1954
Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
by Pius XII
Although Pius X's canonisation took place in 1954, the events leading up to it began immediately with his death. A letter of 24 September 1916 by Monsignor Leo, Bishop of Nicotera and Tropea, referred to Pius X as "a great Saint and a great Pope." To accommodate the large number of pilgrims seeking access to his tomb, more than the crypt would hold, "a small metal cross was set into the floor of the basilica," which read Pius Papa X, "so that the faithful might kneel down directly above the tomb". Masses were held near his tomb until 1930.
Devotion to Pius X between the two world wars remained high. On 14 February 1923, in honor of the 20th anniversary of his accession to the papacy, the first moves toward his canonisation began with the formal appointment of those who would carry out his cause. The event was marked by the erecting of a monument in his memory in St. Peter's Basilica. On 19 August 1939, Pope Pius XII (1939–58) delivered a tribute to Pius X at Castel Gandolfo. On 12 February 1943, a further development of Pius X's cause was achieved, when he was declared to have displayed heroic virtues, gaining therefore the title "Venerable".
On 19 May 1944, Pius X's coffin was exhumed and was taken to the Chapel of the Holy Crucifix in St. Peter's Basilica for the canonical examination. Upon opening the coffin, the examiners found the body of Pius X remarkably well preserved, despite the fact that he had died 30 years before and had made wishes not to be embalmed. According to Jerome Dai-Gal, "all of the body" of Pius X "was in an excellent state of conservation".After the examination and the end of the apostolic process towards Pius X's cause, Pius XII bestowed the title of Venerable Servant of God upon Pius X. His body was exposed for 45 days (Rome was liberated by the allies during this time), before being placed back in his tomb.
Pius X during his lying in state, 21–22 August 1914
Following this, the process towards beatification began, and investigations by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (SCR) into miracles performed by intercessory work of Pius X took place. The SCR would eventually recognize two miracles. The first involved Marie-Françoise Deperras, a nun who had bone cancer and was cured on 7 December 1928 during a novena in which a relic of Pius X was placed on her chest. The second involved the nun Benedetta De Maria, who had cancer, and in a novena started in 1938, she eventually touched a relic statue of Pius X and was cured.
Pope Pius XII officially approved the two miracles on 11 February 1951; and on 4 March, Pius XII, in his De Tuto, declared that the church could continue in the beatification of Pius X. His beatification took place on 3 June 1951 at St. Peter's before 23 cardinals, hundreds of bishops and archbishops, and a crowd of 100,000 faithful. During his beatification decree, Pius XII referred to Pius X as "Pope of the Eucharist", in honor of Pius X's expansion of the rite to children.
The tomb of Pope Pius X under the Presentation chapel altar in Saint Peter's Basilica.
Following his beatification, on 17 February 1952, Pius X's body was transferred from its tomb to the Vatican basilica and placed under the altar of the chapel of the Presentation. The pontiff's body lies within a glass and bronze-work sarcophagus for the faithful to see.
On 29 May 1954, less than three years after his beatification, Pius X was canonized, following the SCR's recognition of two more miracles. The first involved Francesco Belsami, an attorney from Naples who had a pulmonary abscess, who was cured upon placing a picture of Pope Pius X upon his chest. The second miracle involved Sr. Maria Ludovica Scorcia, a nun who was afflicted with a serious neurotropic virus, and who, upon several novenas, was entirely cured. The canonization Mass was presided over by Pius XII at Saint Peter's Basilica before a crowd of about 800,000 of the faithful and church officials at St. Peter's Basilica. Pius X became the first pope to be canonized since Pius V in 1712.
His canonization ceremony was taped and recorded by early television news broadcasters, including NBC.
Prayer cards often depict the sanctified pontiff with instruments of Holy Communion. In addition to being celebrated as the "Pope of the Blessed Sacrament", Pius X is also the patron saint of emigrants from Treviso. He is honored in numerous parishes in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Canada, and the United States.
The number of parishes, schools, seminaries and retreat houses named after him in western countries is very large, partly because he was very well known, and his beatification and canonization in the early 1950s was during a period of time following World War II when there was a great deal of new construction in cities and population growth in the era of the baby boom, thus leading to Catholic institutional expansion that correlated with the growing society.
Pius X's feast day was assigned in 1955 to 3 September, to be celebrated as a Double. It remained thus for 15 years. In the 1960 calendar, the rank was changed to Third-Class Feast. The rank in the General Roman Calendar since 1969 is that of Memorial and the feast day is obligatorily celebrated on 21 August, closer to the day of his death (20 August, impeded by the feast day of St Bernard).
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was a big supporter of his canonization, partly because he had ordained the need for its existence in every diocese and because it had received a great deal of episcopal criticism, and it was thought that by canonizing the pope who gave them their mandate, this would help inoculate against this criticism. They initiated a prayer crusade for his canonization that achieved the participation of over two million names.
After the Pope's canonization, another miracle is said to have taken place when a Christian family activist named Clem Lane suffered a major heart attack and was placed in an oxygen tent, where he was given extreme unction. A relic of the Pope was placed over his tent, and he recovered to the great surprise of his doctors. A sister of Loretto at Webster College in St Louis, Missouri, claimed that her priest brother had been cured through the Pope's intercession as well.