Celebrating Saint Pius X: echoes of an era...

2013-08-21 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio )To mark the day the Catholic Church remembers Saint Pius X, Veronica Scarisbrick brings you echoes from the era of his pontificate.

Unlike the popes of the previous century, the first pope of the newly nascent twentieth century was a man of the people: the son of a postman and a seamstress. His humble origins spelled a capacity to communicate: warmth and humanity were to prevail over the remote regality of his predecessors, surfacing at times into a reassuring playfulness. The Mc Murrough sisters experienced this first hand when they engaged in a curious custom then in vogue, which consisted in buying a papal cap, identical to the the one the pope wore, from the same nuns who made them for him, and then during an audience proceeded, on their knees, to exchange it with him!

At the time the choice of a pope who had served as a parish priest seemed rather unusual! In the words of Cardinal Mathieu, one of the cardinals to elect him to the See of Peter, he was to be 'a father and a shepherd', In fact he created a stir by spending his Sunday afternoons teaching catechism to ordinary people.

But Pius X was also "fearless" of change! His gentle heart hid an iron hand, he was a tireless reformer both at pastoral, and administrative levels....