Rorate Caeli

On the 60th anniversary of the Canonization of Saint Pius X
Full canonization address by Pope Pius XII

2014 is the glorious centennial year of the entrance of Pius X into eternal life, in 1914. On May 29, 1954, exactly 60 years ago, Pope Pius XII celebrated this widely expected canonization with an intense and firm speech, which followed the canonization ceremony.

Statue in the Chiesa di San Salvador, Venice

May 29, 1954

[Quest'ora di fulgente trionfo...] This hour of splendid triumph which God, Who lifts up the lowly, has arranged and as it were hastened in order to set His seal on the marvelous elevation of His faithful servant Pius X in the supreme glory of the altars, fills Our heart with joy, a joy in which you, Venerable Brothers and Beloved Sons, share abundantly by your presence here. We offer heartfelt thanks then to God in His goodness for allowing Us to take part in this extraordinary event; all the more so since, for perhaps the first time in the history of the Church, the formal canonization of a Pope is proclaimed by one who had the privilege of serving him in the Roman Curia.

This day is blessed and memorable, not only for Us, who count it among the happiest days of Our pontificate, to which Providence has allotted so many sorrows and cares, but also for the entire Church, which, gathered around Us in spirit, rejoices all together in a great thrill of religious feeling.

This wonderful evening the endearing name of Pius X, pronounced in the most diverse accents, spans the whole earth; it resounds in enduring testimony to the fruitful presence of Christ in His Church, by evoking everywhere aspirations to sanctity, great graces of faith, of purity, of devotion to the Holy Eucharist. God, Who rewards with liberality, bears witness to His servant’s lofty sanctity in exalting him. It was this sanctity, even more than the supreme Office he held, that made Pius X an outstanding hero of the Church, and as such today the Saint raised up by Providence for our times.

Now it is precisely in this light that We wish you to contemplate the gigantic and yet humble figure of the holy Pope, so that when the shadows of this memorable day fall and the cries of the immense hosanna fade away, the solemn rite of his canonization may linger to bless your souls and help in saving the world.

1. He solemnly announced the programme of his pontificate in his very first Encyclical (E supremi of Oct. 4, 1903) in which he declared that his only aim was “to re-establish all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10), that is, to sum up, to restore all things to unity in Christ. But where is the road that leads to Christ, he asked himself, looking in compassion at the hesitating, wandering souls of his time. The answer, valid yesterday as well as today and always, is: the Church! His primary aim then, unceasingly pursued till death, was to make the Church ever more effectually suitable and ready to receive the movement of souls toward Jesus Christ. With this aim, he conceived the bold undertaking of recasting the body of church law in such wise as to give the Church a more ordered life, greater certainty and flexibility of movement, such, as was demanded by an age typified by growing dynamism and complexity. It is surely true that this work, which he himself called “truly an arduous task,” was consonant with his eminent practical sense and the vigour of his character. Nevertheless the ultimate reason for his undertaking this difficult task is not, it seems, to be found only in the temperament of the man. The well-spring of the legislative work of Pius X is to be looked for above all in his personal sanctity, in his profound personal conviction that the reality of God, which he experienced in a life of constant union, is the source and basis of all order, all justice, all law on earth. Where God is, there is order, justice and law; and conversely, all just order safeguarded by law manifests the existence of God. But what institution here below ought to demonstrate this relationship between God and law more clearly than the Church, the mystical body of Christ Himself? God has blessed abundantly this work of the Holy Pontiff, so that the Code of canon law will remain for future ages the great monument of his pontificate and he himself will justly be hailed the providential Saint of our age.

Would that this spirit of justice and law, which Pius X gave witness to and exemplified for the modern world, could penetrate the conference halls of nations, where the most serious problems affecting the whole human family are discussed, particularly the method of banishing forever the fear of terrifying cataclysms and of guaranteeing for all peoples a lasting happy era of tranquility and peace.

2. In the second of his distinguished accomplishments Pius X is revealed as the indomitable champion of the Church and the providential Saint of our times. In sometimes dramatic circumstances this accomplishment resembled the struggle of a giant in defence of a priceless treasure: the internal unity of the Church in her innermost foundation, the faith. Even from his childhood years Divine Providence was preparing the Saint in his humble family, built upon authority, good habits, and the exact practice of the faith. No doubt every other Pontiff would by virtue of the grace of state have fought and repulsed the assaults which were aimed at the very foundation of the Church. But we must recognize that the perspicuity and strength with which Pius X carried on the victorious struggle against the errors of Modernism, testify to the heroic degree with which the virtue of faith burned in his saintly heart. Uniquely concerned that the inheritance of God be preserved intact for the flock confided to his care, the great Pontiff knew no weakness when dealing with persons of dignity or authority; nor did he manifest vacillation when confronted with alluring but false doctrines within or without the Church; nor did he betray fear lest he bring upon himself personal affronts and unjust interpretations of his pure intentions. He had the clear conviction that he was fighting for the most holy cause of God and souls. The words which the Lord addressed to the Apostle Peter are literally verified in him: “I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not, and you.. . will confirm your brethren” (Luke 22:32). The promise and the command of Christ once again instil in the indefectible rock of one of His Vicars the invincible courage of an athlete. It is right that the Church by conferring upon him the supreme glory in this hour and in this very place where the ever lustrous glory of Peter has shone forth for centuries, thus uniting both one and the other in a single exaltation, should offer to Pius X her gratitude and at the same time invoke his intercession that she may be spared new conflicts of the same nature. The subject then under consideration, namely, the preservation of the close alliance between faith and science, is so noble a good for all humanity, that this second great achievement of the saintly Pontiff exercises a notable influence even beyond the Catholic world.

Any theory, such as Modernism, which separates faith and science in their source and in their object by opposing one to the other, produces in these two vital areas a schism which is so pernicious “that a little is more than death.” This consequence has been actually observed. Man, who at the turn of the century was already divided within himself and yet labouring under the delusion that he possessed his unity under the shallow appearances of harmony and happiness, based upon a purely earthly progress, seemed to be rent asunder under the impact of a reality which was far different.

With watchful gaze Pius X observed the advent of this spiritual calamity of the modern world, this bitter delusion which especially affected the cultured classes. He perceived how such an apparent faith, that is, a faith not founded upon the revelation of God, but rooted in a purely human soil, would lure many into atheism. Likewise he recognized the fatal destiny of a science, which contrary to nature and in voluntary limitation, interdicted the way to absolute Truth and Good, leaving to man, deprived of God and confronted with the invisible obscurity in which he found all being clothed, only the attitude of anguish or arrogance.

The Saint met this deadly evil with the only possible real salvation: Catholic and Biblical truth, the truth of faith, accepted as “reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1) towards God and His revelation. By thus coordinating faith and science, faith as the supernatural extension and at times confirmation of science, and science as the way which leads to faith, Pius X restored to Christians unity and peace of soul, which are the inviolable premises of life.

If today there are many who, impelled as it were by the emptiness and affliction of their abandonment, have turned to this truth and have realized it in the firm possession of the Church, they owe a debt of gratitude for this to the foresight and achievements of Pius X. In fact both believers, who enjoy the full light of truth, and those who sincerely seek truth are obligated to him for protecting truth from error. For others his firm attitude in regard to error may still remain a stone of scandal; in reality it is the ultimate service of charity rendered by a Saint, as Head of the Church, to all humanity.

3. Sanctity, which was the inspiration and directing force of the aforementioned undertaking of Pius X, is still more clearly discernible in his personal life. Before applying it to others, he put into practice in his own life his programme of unifying all things in Christ. First as a humble parish priest, then as bishop, and finally as Supreme Pontiff he was intimately convinced that the sanctity to which God called him was priestly sanctity. For what sanctity is more pleasing to God in a priest of the New Law than that which belongs to him as representative of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, Who left to His Church in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass a memorial for all time and a perpetual renovation of His Sacrifice on the Cross, until He shall come for the last judgment (I Cor. 11:24-26); and Who in the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist has given Himself as the food of the soul: “He that eateth this bread shall live forever” (In. 6 :58).

A Priest, above all in the Eucharistic ministry: this is the most faithful portrayal of St. Pius X. To serve the mystery of the Blessed Eucharist as a priest, and to fulfill the command of Our Saviour “Do this for a commemoration of Me” (Luke 22:19), was his goal. From the day of his sacred ordination until his death as Pope, he knew no other path than this in order to arrive at heroism in his love of God and to make a wholehearted return to that Redeemer of the world, Who by means of the Blessed Eucharist poured out the wealth of His divine Love on men” (Council of Trent, Sess. XIII, chap. 2). One of the most expressive proofs of his consciousness of his priesthood was the extreme care he took to renew the dignity of divine worship. Overcoming the prejudices springing from an erroneous practice, he resolutely promoted frequent, and even daily, Communion of the faithful, and unhesitatingly led children to the banquet of the Lord, and offered them to the embrace of the God hidden on the altars. Then, the Spouse of Christ experienced a new Springtime of Eucharistic life.

In the profound vision which he had of the Church as a Society, Pius X recognized that it was the Blessed Eucharist which had the power to nourish its intimate life substantially, and to raise it high above all other human societies. Only the Eucharist, in which God gives Himself to man, is apt to lay the foundations of a social life worthy of those who live it, cemented more by love than by authority, rich in activity and aimed at the perfection of the individual: a life that is “hidden with Christ in God.”

What a providential example for the world of today, where earthly society is becoming more and more a mystery to itself, and is feverishly trying to rediscover its soul! Let it look, then, for its model at the Church, gathered around its altars. There in the sacrament of the Eucharist mankind really discovers and recognizes that its past, present, and future are a unity in Christ (cf. Council of Trent, l.c.). Conscious of, and strong in his solidarity with Christ and his fellow men, each member of either Society, the earthly and the supernatural one, will be enabled to draw from the altar an interior life of personal dignity and personal worth, such as today is almost lost through insistence on technology and by excessive organization of existence, of work and even play. Only in the Church, the holy Pontiff seems to repeat, and for her in the Blessed Eucharist which is ‘‘life hidden with Christ in God,” is to be found the secret and source of renewed social life.

Hence follows the grave responsibility of ministers of the altar whose duty it is to disclose to souls the saving treasure of the Eucharist. Many indeed are the activities which a priest can exercise for the salvation of the modern world; one of them, and undoubtedly the most efficacious, and the most lasting in its effects, is to act as dispenser of the Holy Eucharist, after first nourishing himself abundantly with It. His work would cease to be sacerdotal, if, even through zeal for souls, he were to put his Eucharistic vocation in a secondary place. Let priests conform their outlook to the inspired wisdom of Pius X, and let them confidently exercise their whole apostolate under the sign of the Blessed Eucharist.

Similarly let religious men and women, those who live under the same roof as Jesus Christ and are daily nourished with His body, take as a safe norm in the pursuit of the sanctity proper to their state, what the holy Pontiff once declared on an important occasion, namely, that the bonds which through their vows and community life link them with God are not to be subordinated to any other activity, however legitimate, for the good of their neighbour (cf. Letter to Gabriel Marie, Superior General of the Christian Brothers, 23 April, 1905—Pii X P. M. Act, II, 87 f.).

In the Blessed Eucharist the soul should strike roots for nourishing the interior life, which is not only a fundamental treasure of all souls consecrated to the Lord, hut also a necessity for every Christian, whom God calls to he saved. Without interior life, any activity, however praiseworthy, is debased and becomes purely mechanical action without any vitalizing effect.

The Holy Eucharist and the interior life: this is the supreme and universal lesson which Pius X, from the height of glory, teaches in this hour to all souls. As apostle of the interior life, he becomes, in the age of the machine, of technology, and of organization, the Saint and guide of men of our time.

Saint Pius X, glory of the priesthood, light and honour of the Christian people, you in whom lowliness seemed blended with greatness, severity with mildness, simple piety with profound learning; you, Pope of the Holy Eucharist and of the catechism, of unsullied faith and fearless strength, turn your gaze on holy Church, which you so loved and to which you consecrated the choicest of those treasures with which the lavish hand of the Divine Bounty had enriched your soul; obtain for her safety and steadfastness amid the difficulties and persecutions of our times; sustain this poor human race, whose sufferings you shared in so largely, those sufferings which at the end stilled the beating of your great heart; bring it about that this troubled world witness the triumph of that peace which should mean harmony among nations, brotherly accord and sincere collaboration among the different classes of society, love and charity among individual men, so that thus those ardent desires which consumed your apostolic life may become by your intercession a blessed reality, to the glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns forever and ever, Amen!