Experts from around the world gathered in the Vatican on Thursday to explore the legacy and life of Pope Pius X, a pope for 11 years, who died weeks after the onset of World War I.
The conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, in the Vatican’s Saint Pius X Hall, on the theme: “Saint Pius X: A Reforming Pope Facing Challenges of the New Century.”
Broken into two sessions, the morning one began with a reflection on the person of Pope Pius X. Gianpaolo Romanato, professor at Rome’s Pontifical University, discussed the “complex figure of Pius X” without whom, “subsequent pontifical efforts and contributions would never have been possible.”
“It was not by chance that there were a vast number of converts,” noting how many converted throughout Europe, especially in France and England, after all of the reformative works of Pope Pius X, he said.
Turning to the pastoral elements of Pope Pius X, Fr. Carlo Pioppi of Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, shed light on how “understanding his attitude, governance, and decisions are key to understanding the good pastor who didn’t give into temptations of the time, but rather led Christians to liturgical and sacramental life.”
He told ZENIT that “Pius X’s activities increased Catholics’ knowledge of the doctrine and Church,” and reflected on his impact on others. He shared how many, inspired by his attention to “spiritual exercises, meditations of Sacred Scripture, and increasing knowledge of the doctrine, chose to imitate his works.”
Roberto Regalo of Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University gave historical context discussing his place at the start of the early 1900s, while Miroslaw Lenard of Poland’s University of Opole, spoke of the Pontiff, formerly patriarch of Venice.
The afternoon sessions focused on the various reforms of Pius X.
Patrick Valdrini of Rome’s Pontifical Latertan University, spoke on the late Pontiff’s contributing to a uniform code on canon law.
The president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, Fr. Bernard Ardura, stressed to ZENIT that “before Pius X, all this information was dispersed in various documents.” He said Pius X was the first to take the initiative to bring everything together under one, understandable code.
Turning to how the late Pontiff contributed to the formation of priests, Luigi Michele De Palma, spoke on how he helped to develop diocesan seminaries, especially throughout Italy,
Jean Miguel Ferrer Grenesche, secretary of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, went on to discuss the late Pope’s reforms to the liturgy, while Mario Sensi, professor at Rome’s Lateran University, followed, discussing how Pope Pius X was instrumental in increasing the frequency in which both adults and children receive the sacraments, especially Communion.
The event concluded with the presentation of the book “Pio X: Alle origini del cattolicesimo contemporaneo,” (“Pius X: At the origins of contemporary catholicism”) in which Carlo Fantappie, of University of Studies of Urbino, and Alejandro Dieguez, of the Vatican Secret Archives, both further illuminated the figure of the misunderstood, but undeniably reforming Pope who had “a great awareness of his office” and brought a “complex and fascinating personality to the pontificate,” which will leave a long-lasting legacy.