Rorate Caeli

A Holy and Important Anniversary

Only one of the popes was ever a "Parish Priest", a "Pastor", a "Curé", that is, in charge of a parish, with the "cure of souls". Giuseppe Melchiore Sarto, Pope Saint Pius X. This lion of a defender of the Faith was certainly one of the greatest popes of the last few centuries.
At the heights of holiness, what are seemingly hard to reconcile, are practiced with perfection. In him there was no contradiction between the "medicine of mercy" and the severity of condemnation. He realized, with Holy Mother Church that "the condemnation of error is itself a work of mercy since by pinning down error, those labouring under it are corrected and others are preserved from falling into it" (Iota unum).

His life was mysteriously and providentially connected to the patron of parish priests, St. John Vianney, the Curé d'Ars.

In the last year of Vianney's life, the young Sarto was ordained to the sacred priesthood - exactly 150 years ago, on September 18, 1858. While Fr. Sarto was a parish priest, Vianney was declared venerable. On the very anniversary of the Venerable John Vianney's death, Cardinal Sarto was elected the Successor of Peter. And it was Pope Pius X who beatified Fr. Vianney. Both were members of the Third Order of Penance (Secular Franciscans).

This year marks also the 100th anniversary of Haerent animo, the apostolic exhortation on priestly holiness. It bears a magisterial authority as well as a great moral authority, since it is literally infallibly certain that its author practiced what he preached.

May the Lord grant us, through the intercession of the Immaculate, our Lady of Lourdes, many holy priests "filled with apostolic courage and heavenly wisdom" (collect of St. Pius X).
Fr. Paul J. McDonald
Curé des paroisses françaises
Diocese of Saint Catharines,
Ontario, Canada


  1. Anonymous3:24 AM

    Thank you for this beautiful meditation!

    Saint Pius X, pray for us!

  2. Anonymous9:48 PM

    I think you will find that Pope John Paul II was also a curate and then a successful parish priest in Poland. And the present Holy Father was also a curate in Munich at the start of his priestly life.

  3. Both had parallel academic (university) activities - which are very meritorious, of course. But that seemed to be the point of Father McDonald, the author: he was only that, never anything else, his years in seminary activities merely an evolution of his cure of souls, his years as bishop another step. Never a figure of Vatican diplomacy, nor of Curial activity, not even a product of any university: just a parish priest in the countryside, that was what he always was, and his life story is so unusual in the history of the papacy in the past few centuries.

  4. Anonymous11:36 PM

    Thank you for this tribute to the courage, fidelity and sanctity of this great successor of St. Peter.

    Pope St. Pius X, intercede for us!

    Father Stephen, o.f.m.

  5. St. Pius X is the greatest Pope of the 20th century.


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