"Silence and solitude make up the atmosphere of the cross: and we cannot live without the cross: it is the gift of Our Lord for those who love Him."
Card. Merry del Val
COR UNUM ET ANIMA UNA
Though different in culture, language and nationality, there was such a communion of thought and of ideals between Pope Sarto and Merry del Val that the famous French writer Renè Bazin could write that St. Pius X “in naming Cardinal Merry del Val as his Secretary of State, showed that he possessed one of the primary qualities of a Prince, which is to know men and to choose his ministers for the good of the kingdom. To suddenly place the young prelate in such a high position, required courage: but Pius X had recognized in Rafael Merry del Val an extraordinary character and a superior intelligence.” Upon the death of the Cardinal in the year 1930, an influential German daily newspaper wrote: “It is not possible to state precisely to what point the extraordinarily fruitful Pontificate of Pius X was the work of that pontiff and which was the part of his Secretary of State.”
The Cardinal lent his service to the Holy Father with such rectitude, that neither the common desire of praises nor servile fear nor temptations of popularity could influence him in the least. St. Pius X usually referred to Merry del Val as “his” Cardinal and every time he spoke of him, he could not hide the joy of having him at his side, saying on several occasions that “he knew not how to thank Our Lord enough for giving him such a precious collaborator.” That is why the writer Cammillo Bellaigue, Chamberlain to His Holiness, could rightly witness: “During the whole of the pontificate of the saintly Pope Pius X, there were occasions when I had dealings with Cardinal Merry del Val. His intelligence was equal to his soul. I served as best I could this great servant of the greatest of masters. I can still hear St. Pius X saying to me: ” To separate myself from Cardinal del Val? I would rather be separated from my head.”
These two great souls lived united for eleven long years in the guidance of the Church of God, according to the principles of the Gospel which know no compromises. They worked, battled and suffered together, to the point that in a signed note to his Secretary, the Pope wrote: “…I have asked Our Lord, that as long as He desires to have me down here, He grant me the grace of always having you by my side.” And the young Cardinal loved his Pope with a disinterested love, wholly aimed at the good of the Church and the salvation of souls.
These two great men of the Church cannot be separated in the story of that blessed Pontificate – one of the most glorious on record. Even before their government of the Church, they were kindred spirits in the spiritual life, which left a deep impression on the world due to their holiness of life and unconditional love for the truth.
Providence had disposed that Pius X and Merry del Val would work together, battle and suffer together to the point that, after the death of Pius X, Merry del Val would remain in the eyes of the world as the depositary and representative of the thought of St. Pius X. It is not by chance that on the death of the Cardinal someone wrote: “It seems that twice over we have lost the admirable and holy Pope.”
“Let us have faith. God will guide all things for the best. We see only one page in the great book that he has written for us. He sees everything and can do everything. He loves us. Fiat!"
“The beautiful virtue of humility seems to be so little understood. God, in as much as He is God could not practice humility, but used condescension. He lowered Himself to come to us…let us strive to descend; to lower ourselves in order to imitate Him.”
Cardinal Merry del Val
To be continued
[Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, Italy. Translation: contributor Francesca Romana]