Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born Riese, Province of Treviso, in Venice. His parents were Giovanni Battista Sarto, a postman, and Margarita. Sarto was ordained a priest in 1858. As a young priest he studied both Saint Thomas and the Catholic Church's Canon Law. In 1875 he was made a canon of the cathedral of Treviso, becoming in 1878 vicar-capitular. On the 10 November 1884, Sarto joined the episcopate by becoming Bishop of Mantua. In June, 1893 Sarto was named a cardinal in a secret consistory. In 1896 he was publicly named as the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice. However a political difficulty arose over his assumption of the patriarchy, as the Royal Italian Government claimed the right to nominate a clergyman to that position, based on an alleged role in the appointment previously exercised by the Emperor of Austria. The anticlericalism of the Italian Royal Court and the attitudes in the Papal Court to the liberation of Rome from papal rule in 1870 complicated relationships. Eventually the Italian state backed down and Cardinal Sarto was able to assume control of his post.
Following the death of the much loved and very elderly Pope Leo XIII, Sarto was elected to the See of Peter on 4 August 1903 by a vote of 55 out of a possible 60 votes in the Papal Conclave. His coronation, using the traditional Papal Tiara, took place on the following Sunday, 9 August 1903.
His papacy was noted for its conservative agenda. He condemned what he termed 'modernists' and 'relativists' who he believed endangered the Catholic faith (see for example his Anti-Modernist oath). Modernism he called the "synthesis of all heresies". It was a theological trend which tried to assimilate modern philosophers like Kant into church theology, much in the same way Aristotlean philosophy was united with Theology by the scholastics. It justified this change with the idea that all beliefs of the church have evolved throughout its history and must continue to evolve. It is primarily for this reason Pius the X was made a saint, since he was thought to have defend the souls of many people who would have perished due to the supposed modernist heresies.
St. Pius provoked a crisis for Catholicism in France when he condemned the French president for visiting Victor Emmanuel III, the King of Italy, with whom the Church was in dispute since 1870 over the Italian state' seizure of the Papal States that year. The result of the clash was a complete separation of church and state in France and the expulsion of the Jesuits.
Pius X called for the codification of Canon law, which up until that time was mostly in the form of court precedents. He also called for daily communion, as well as first communion to be given as soon as the child had reached the age of reason.
Pius X heavily promoted the use of Gregorian chant in the Catholic liturgy.
Pius strove hard to avoid the outbreak of World War One. His death in 1914 was in part credited to his horror at the impending war. Pius X became St. Pius X, when he was canonised a saint of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius XII in 1954.
Pope Leo XIII
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Pope Benedict XV