Museo San Pio X - Salzano -

Life of St. Pius X

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Translation by Nausica Bonaldo

PRIEST OF SALZANO (May 1867- November 1875)

He entered the St. Bartholomew parish of Salzano without celebrations on Saturday, 13th June 1867, in the evening.

His coming wasn’t much appreciated by most of the people and the majors of the place, above all by the public administrator and the blacksmith, used to have parish priests with a big experience and reputation. They often complained about him saying that he was too young (32 years old) for a so important community, with a few references, not very known.

Salzano was a community with 2282 inhabitants, most of them were farmers, almost all family Moisè Vita Jacur’s sharecroppers (1797- 1877), a Jew, who had wide properties.

The biggest care of the new parish priest was the religious teaching to the adults and children.

He created a dialogical catechism with Father Giuseppe Menegazzi (Noale, 1840-Treviso, 1917), his successor to the guidance of the parish from 1876 to 1885. Two books are the proofs of this methodology: Father Francesco Tonolo in 1954 and Father Giuseppe Baldini in 1974 have revalued them; they contain 577 questions and answers[18].

This catechism attracted the Catholics of the neighbouring towns, who abandoned their churches with a lot of complaints of the parish priests and the bishop, who advised them to do the same things Father Giuseppe Sarto did. Father Sarto took care also of the Confraternity of the Christian Doctrine, born in 1723.

He is also known for the admission to the Eucharist for very young children: in fact he changed the age from 12-14, as usual, to 8-9 years old.

Liturgy and holy music were for the young parish priest of Salzano high depth moments and were also linked to each other: he restored the Moscatelli’s eighteenth-century organ, which was enlarged by Callido and Bazzani brothers (9th November 1867), and in winter 1869 he created an evening singing school. His fame in musical framework was good: he was also invited to participate in the first Congress of Italian Catholics, that took place in Venice in 1874 (12th-16th June), bur he didn’t take part[19].

His pastoral activity was directed to Mary of Carmine, honoured with the local name Mary of Roata, he instituted the holy practice of the month of May (1869) that there wasn’t before. He honoured also the Blessed Virgin Mary, and he ordered also an altar-piece in the oratory in the town Castelliviero. He contributed to grow the veneration of St. Antonio from Padova, St. Luigi and St. Valentino with the altar-piece, which was ordered in 1870 to the Venetian painter Pietro Nordio.

The management of the passage from the Austrian domination to that one of Italy, which had already finished the Third Independence War, that transferred the Jacobin and anticlerical legislation of Piedmont into the Venice area, wasn’t very easy.

He claimed his predecessor’s legacy, Father Antonio Bosa (Pagnano, 1804-Salzano, 1867), to his new parish, that changed in the Bosa’s Holy Work, with a particular consideration to the young brides, to boys and their work.

He had to be headmaster of the schools of the town, like many eight-century-Venetian parish priests: he was elected headmaster in 1868 and superintendent in 1869; the female section in the town school was opened, that was closed during the Austrian domination. For the adults he made schools opened during the evening.

He developed the local civil hospital (that was closed because of financial reasons in 1883) and the old people’s home, both founded by Father Antonio Bosa in 1855, after Father Vittorio Allegri’s legacy (Loreggia, Padua, 1791-Padua, 1835), Salzano’s parish priest from 28th April 1791 to 24th October 1825 [20]; he gave them a statute and some rules.

He took care above all of the town harmony, because it had been civilly and administratively divided since the domination of the Republic of Serenissima.

He studied, in particular, the Church Fathers, he practised the ecclesiastical oratory and he continued writing sermons.

To reconstruct his initiatives there is a Register of a private cash: he had at the same time the one official, where he annoted every expenses. In it also the poor incomes are annoted, which consisted in money, wheat, maize, grapes, wood, cockerels, eggs and wine. The worst expense was the payment of the debt contracted by Father Antonio Bosa, who wanted the church to be rebuilt in Neo-classical style: he paid it on 12th December 1873 to the impresario Giuseppe Dal Maschio, from Mirano, (1829-1889), who was Marco Dal Maschio’s son (1793-1870), the man who tried to recover all that he borrowed.

Father Giuseppe Sarto wanted to industrialise the local activity of the silkworm, which had existed maybe since 1600; so Moisè Vita Jacur opened a silk factory on 26th September 1872, which let 200 girls work. The parish priest helped to the manufacture of the plant by undertaking the supply of the necessary gravel “in the hope of providing with the urgent needs of the Poor Church, with the free services of the parishioners [21].

He increased the hours of the adoration of the Christ during the Holy Week, that became 40, and he reorganised the Confraternity of Christ in 1875, in the same year where he became canon of the chapter of Treviso. He wanted to realise, in the same year, Virgin Mary’s daughters’association, but it was realised by his successors.

He made charity: he continued improving the same daily behaviour as he had when he was in Tombolo, because ha gave personal underwear, food cooked by the sisters, wood, wheat and shoes.

He often pawned his parish ring to the Monte di Pietà in Venice, which was given to the parish priests of Salzano by Father Vittorio Allegri in his will on 10th March 1828.

He was generous and impulsive. In 1869 he was tried, but he was acquitted immediately, whereas some parishioners, who helped him, were condemned. Some people, who argued with the parish priest of Salzano on 27th June afternoon, denounced the aggression to the authority, with the intention of involving him. He was grateful to the ones who defended him and were condemned after the trial that happened on 23rd and 24th December 1869 [22].

Other episodes, which had often been cited by the witnesses during the canon cases of Giuseppe Sarto glorification, concern the cholera, which attacked the town of Salzano in 1873 (like in 1836, 1847, 1855). In the parish register of the deads there are the proves of his participation to this drama. The most important moment of his involving emerges after the reading of a young couple’s death certificate, Vittorio Gambaro and Bottacin Giuditta, who were 21 and 20 years old. Vittorio died because of the cholera and his death was registered in the parish certificates. After some hours also his wife died. So the parish priest told his posterity the fact, with a hope message: ”Poor bride. She caught the cholera standing near his husband Gambaro Vittorio, the disease that made her join him. So the one who joined them in love during their life, don’t divide them in death. Sit perpetua animabus benedictis requies”.

This commitment caused him a lot of health problems, but he passed also this prove.

He officially left Salzano on 16th September 1875, even if the last documents of the passage of the consigns were signed on 26th November 1875, as it appears in the parish registers.

The church of Salzano (Venice)

The church of Salzano (Venice), where he was parish priest from 1867 to 1875. He was the only pope who ran through all the degrees of the priestly ministry.

[18] TONOLO F., “As like parish priest Pio X taught the catechism. Pio X’s hand-written catechism”, XXIII (1954), pages 367- 376. “Texts and documents of spiritual life and pastoral action”, edited by BADINI G., year XXI, Paoline edition, Rome, 1975, pages 101-225; pages 337-345.

[19] NIERO A., “Experiences and liturgical reforms”, in AA. VV., “Saint Pio X’s Venetian roots. Essays and searches” edited by Silvio Tramontin, Morcelliana, Brescia, 1987. page 52.

[20] Vittorio Allegri was a singular example of priest, not yet understood from the historical and ecclesiastical point of view. For further information, see BACCHION E., “Salzano, historical references”, Reprinting edited by the Town Administration of Salzano, with an introduction of Silvio Tramontin and a biographical and bibliographical file edited by Quirino Bortolato, Town Administration of Salzano, Multigraf, Spinea, pages 65-66, 75; BACCHION E., “Pio X Giuseppe Sarto, archpriest in Salzano” (1867-1875), Town Administration of Salzano with the defence of Giuseppe Sarto’s foundation, Multigraf, Spinea, 1996, pages 214+112; AA. VV., “The old people’s home “Father Vittorio Allegri” from the beginning until today”, Studiostampa – Tipo-offset “The Commercial”, Piombino Dese, 1974, page 158.

[21] BACCHION E., “Salzano, historical references”, Reprinting edited by the Town Administration of Salzano, with an introduction of Silvio Tramontin and a biographical and bibliographical file edited by Quirino Bortolato, Town Administration of Salzano, Multigraf, Spinea, 1986, pages 112-116; BACCHION E., “Pio X Giuseppe Sarto, archpriest of Salzano (1867-1875)”, Town Administration of Salzano with the defence of Giuseppe Sarto’s foundation, Multigraf, Spinea, 1996, pages 93-95.

[22] [BACCHION E.], “An anecdote of the parish priest Sarto’s life, in Salzano to his leader In commemoration of Monsignor Archpriest’s priestly jubilee”, Salzano, 18th August 1946, Eugenius Bacchion junior curavit, Venice, Stamperia Marciana, 1946. See also BACCHION E., “Pio X Giuseppe Sarto, Archpriest of Salzano (1867-1875)”, Town Administration of Salzano with the defence of Giuseppe Sarto’s foundation, Multigraf, Spinea, 1996, pages 72-73.

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Last update: 21.06.2009

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