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Life of St. Pius X

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Translation by Nausica Bonaldo


In 1895, an year after his entering, in Venice the town election took place; this event gave birth to the Grimani majority (the new patriarch works helped it to make a name) who governed the city until December 1919: it was made up of a group of catholic and moderate leaded by the Count Filippo Grimani and it was an anticipation of the catholic period, that brought to the progressive decrease of the “non expedit” of Pio IX and the Gentiloni’s Pact (1913).

In this period all the topics, which had already been studied in Mantova, had been extended and studied more and more. These topics are in the heritage of the universal Church.

The religious learning and the preaching were badly organised in Venice and with not specified purposes; the holy eloquence was rhetoric, nearly secular. So the new patriarch commanded the religious learning school and the cathechists’ training, not only for the activity in the patronage, but also for the town schools. As in Mantova he controlled if his instructions were followed, above all the “mercy spirit, the ardour of the charity, science and sincere preparation”.

He wanted a disciplinary and scholarly organisation, adapted to that period, for the seminary and the clergy; he changed the faculty board, reformed the studies and founded the faculty of the canonical right (that lasted until 1932) to give his priests an appropriate knowledge of the legal problems. He also wanted that they participated in a spiritual exercises course with him and they were present in lectures of biblical exegesis, history and Christian archaeology.

He took care of the poors; he was an indefatigable confessor, available to the conversion of the ones that didn’t believe, a children and young boys’ catechist.

With the pastoral letter of the 1st May 1895 he confirmed that the music and the chant had the purpose of being “liturgical prayer”. The main characteristics had to suit the holiness of the chant, the goodness of the art, the universality against the “theatrical manners”. He found in the Gregorian chant, in the polyphony and in the prayer sang by the people the leader ways of the reform of the holy music.

On 21st May he created the pastoral visit (that lasted until 1898) and he took a decision against the modern Christianity.

A new fact was the XIX Eucharistic Congress[25], that saw in the Venetian the “mainly promoters”. It was opened after a profanation happened in the “Chiesa degli Scalzi”. On 6th April 1895 someone took a pyx scattered the host in the “calli”. “To do an action of repair to Jesus, to the world that doesn’t know him”, the patriarch created immediately an Eucharistic Congress, that was celebrated two years later, between 8th and 12th August 1897.

He did his best to increase in the believers the love in the Eucharist, with the frequent and daily Communion; he persuaded the parish priests to admit to this sacrament also the children, without thinking to the age: it was necessary that they were conscious in what they were doing.

On 1st November 1897 he created the XXIX synod of the Venetian Church, that was celebrated from 8th to 10th August 1898, with the purpose of making it in harmony with the needs of the period; he substituted the previous rule, that dated back to 1865, when the cardinal Giuseppe Trevisanato, patriarch from 1862 to 1877, promulgated it.

Regarding the Catholic Movement, basing himself on what had been decided in the Congress of Lodi (1890) and the one of Vicenza (1891), he wanted that the Catholics who took care of the society, acted consciously as brothers, with discipline and obedience[26]. He always behaved “super partes”, supporting all the positions; he invited the intransigent supporters of the “Opera dei Congressi” and the ones of the democratic-Christian faction to lead a political commitment joining to the fraternity message and to the Church teaching, even if he agreed with the first ones.

He did all he could to make an agreement between the workers and the managers. He interfered with practical actions, well studied in order to avert the socialist ideas: he encouraged the lace school in Burano (where 400 girls worked) contributing to the women emancipation; he was against the usury to establish of the worker parish cash, the rural cash and the Bank of St. Mark; he provided incentives for the societies of the health help (illness insurance), he encouraged the people secretariat for the workers and emigrant assistance.

In the second Congress of the Catholic Union of the scholar of Social Science of Padua (26th-28th August 1896) he made a pastoral and religious speech: he began and finished it with “Thank Our Lord”; it expressed his point of view about the problem, certain that “the orthodoxy of the doctrines that will grow with the idea of the christian science, in support of the catholic belief and in the dependence of the Church, where it continues and where the life and the doctrine of Christ takes place[27].

Regarding the material charity he behaved the same as he was a parish priest: he gave all that he had without any problems.

He was considered a lot in Rome, even if someone considered his actions provincial: he was remembered the “gem of the Holy College” and Leone XIII wanted him to be his vicar.

Father Giuseppe Sarto cardinal patriarch of Venice

Father Giuseppe Sarto cardinal patriarch of Venice (1893-1903)

[25] The celebration of the Italian Eucharist Congress began in Napoli in 1891 and continued in Torino in 1894, in Milano in 1895, in Orvieto in 1896 and in Venice in 1897, that was the last of the 19th century. Until 1920 they didn’t take place: the interruption happened because of the absence of an Italian organising committee and the First World War. During Pio X’s pontificate, who was also called the pope of the Eucharist, any national Eucharist manifestation wasn’t organised, whereas some international Congress took place (Angoul?me, 1904; Colonia, 1909; Madrid, 1911; Malta, 1913).

[26] ROMANATO G., “Giuseppe Sarto and the Catholic Movement”, in AA. VV., “St. Pio X’s Venetian origins. Essays and researches” edited by Silvio Tramontin, Morcelliana, Brescia, 1987, page 125.

[27] Catholic Union for the Social Studies in Italy, “Acts and documents of the Second Italian Catholic Congress of the scholars of Social Science in Padova on 26th, 27th, 28th August 1896”, Printing-works of the Seminary, Padova, 1897, page 108.

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