[In the famous image above, Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto, Patriarch of Venice, on August 4, 1901, exactly 113 years ago and precisely 2 years before his election, in a trip from Borso del Grappa to the top of Mount Grappa (Province of Treviso, in the Veneto), where he would unveil the little shrine to Our Lady Help of Christians. The Madonnina del Grappa would be damaged during World War I, in which the Grappa was a place of intense fighting in three battles between Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces. NC]
by Fr. Paul J. McDonald
This date is very significant. It is the anniversary of the death of the Curé d'Ars, St. John Vianney. It would be Pope Sarto who would beatify Vianney.
Pope Saint Pius X was the only and still is the only pope who worked as a priest in charge of a parish: a "Pastor", as we say in America, a "Parish Priest", a "Curé", a "Parroco".
One day, three priests met St. Pius. "What do you do, Father?", he asked the first one. "I am a canon lawyer." "And you?" "I am a seminary professor." "And you?" "Habeo cura animarum" (I have the care of souls, which equals, I am Parish Priest.) The pope then knelt down and asked his blessing.
A coincidence, you say. But the odds against the only parish priest among the popes being elected on the dies natalis of the patron of parish priest's. are about 10,000 to one against it.
It is a sign, and not the only one.
It was St. Pius who beatified Jeanne d'Arc. She who saved France and taught and continues to teach the social reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. She who was formed in her spiritual life, and instructed in the art of war, by St. Michael the Archangel. Papa Sarto prophetically said one day that when "victory" over the forces of darkness engulfing the Church and society finally comes, it will be through St. Michael.
Well, the day of the election of Giuseppe Sarto was a first Tuesday of the month. This is a day that honours St. Michael, especially in France. In 1652, Anne of Austria, former consort and Regent and Queen Mother, established an altar in honour of St. Michael, on which, every first Tuesday would be offered a solemn mass for peace in Church and state. It is not wrong to see the hand of St. Michael in the election of a true saviour of the Church. Salvation was offered to the nation's, too, but they would not.
When the Successor of Peter, having invoked the assistance of the Spirit of Truth, has inscribed a person in the Kalendar of the Saints, this is an authoritative act that demands respect.
But it is not wrong to point out that Pope Saint Pius X had a canonization process in the old procedure. For his beatification, two miracles were required. For his canonization, another two miracles were needed. All along the way, the "Devil's Advocate", the Promoter of Justice, fought bravely against it. For example, a special investigation was done on the subject of the charity or lack thereof of Papa Sarto towards the modernists. Conclusion: his charity was exemplary. Don't forget, though, that "love is stern as death..."
These are days of grace leading up to the exact 100th anniversary of his passing into glory. It happened at 1:00 a.m. in Rome, on Thursday, August 20, 1914.
In the words of the Sacred Liturgy, through his prayers and merits, may Pope Francis and all the bishops and priests "be filled with heavenly wisdom and apostolic courage."