Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Monday August 21, we celebrate the feast of our parish patron saint, Pope St. Pius X. Born Giuseppe Melchior Sarto on June 2, 1835, in Riese (now in Veneto, Italy), he was the son of a postal worker, and the second of ten children. While he was a strong student, his modest origins meant that tuition for the seminary would be an obstacle. Fortunately, his parish priest asked the Cardinal Archbishop of Venice to provide a scholarship for the young man, and young Giuseppe was able to begin seminary studies. He was ordained a priest on September 18, 1858. His first homilies as a priest were described by his mentors as “rubbish,” and so he dedicated significant effort and prayer to improving his preaching. He often refused new shoes or clothing in favor of giving such items away to the poor, and just as frequently raided his rectory pantry to provide food to those who came begging at the door. His reputation for holiness began to grow, and soon he was appointed to teach theology in the local seminary. While teaching there, he was named bishop of Mantua, Italy, where he served for nine years. In 1893, he was named Patriarch of Venice and made a Cardinal. Finally, on August 4, 1914, he was elected Pope. In the Petrine Office, Pope Pius X took the motto Instaurare Omnia in Christo – To restore all things in Christ. Indeed, his ministry included restoration of liturgical music, especially Gregorian Chant, reform of liturgical practice, promotion of devotion to the Blessed Mother as the one who always leads us to Christ, and most of all, encouragement of Eucharistic devotion. Pope St. Pius X has been known as the “Pope of the Eucharist” for his efforts to encourage frequent, worthy reception of Holy Communion, for encouraging children to receive Communion at a younger age, and for emphasizing the importance of frequent reception of the sacrament of confession as preparation for reception of Communion. He died on August 20, 1914. When his body was exhumed as part of the beatification process, it was found to be miraculously incorrupt. You can visit the tomb of St. Pius X today at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where it lies under the altar in the chapel of the Presentation.
At the front entrance of the church, you will find the coat of arms of Pope St. Pius X beautifully depicted in the marble floor. The coat of arms includes the triple papal tiara and the crossed keys, symbolizing the keys of Peter and the office of the Pope. Beneath the tiara is a winged lion holding an open book that reads “Pax tibi Marce evangelista meus” (Peace to you, Mark, my evangelist), a symbol of St. Mark the Evangelist who is the patron saint of Venice, where Pope St. Pius X was archbishop. Beneath the lion is a blue field over waves, with an anchor and six-pointed star, which comes from the coat of arms of Mantua, where he first served as a bishop. By retaining symbols from his previous dioceses, Pope Pius X began a tradition in which popes retained their coats of arms from their diocese of origin. While papal heraldry may not be the most important element of their ministry, the symbols contained in a coat of arms do offer interesting insight into the ministry, spirituality, and lives of popes. Have a look at the coat of arms if you have never stopped to examine it – it is a very beautiful piece of art!
I am grateful today to two very generous donors who are helping us to celebrate our patronal feast day. Celebrating a feast day is important because we are reminded of the intercession of the saints, of their closeness to us, and of the power of their prayers! My sincere thanks, first to Al DiGuido, Saugatuck Sweets, for his generous donation of ice cream after all Masses. And second, to an anonymous donor, who gifted us copies of Bishop Barron’s book, “This is My Body-A Call to Eucharistic Revival.” This book will help us better understand and fall more deeply in love with the sacrament of the Eucharist. Today, let us invoke especially the intercession and prayers of Pope St. Pius X, that our parish community may continue to thrive and grow, and that our devotion to the Eucharist may draw us more deeply into relationship with Christ, who restores us and who restores all things!