This great pope was born Joseph Sarto in 1835. He was the son of a mailman in Riese, Italy. Joseph was given the affectionate nickname of “Beppi.” When Joseph decided to be a priest, he had to make many sacrifices to get an education. But he didn’t mind. He even walked miles to school barefoot to save his one good pair of shoes. After he was ordained a priest, Father Sarto labored for the people in poor parishes for seventeen years. Everybody loved him. He used to give away everything he had to help them. His sisters had to hide his shirts or he would have had nothing to wear. Even when Father Joseph became a bishop, and then a cardinal, he still gave away what he owned to the poor. He kept nothing for himself.
When Pope Leo XIII died in 1903, Cardinal Sarto was chosen pope. He took the name Pius X. He became known as the pope of the Holy Eucharist. Pope Pius X encouraged everyone to receive Jesus as often as they could. He also lowered the age for children to be permitted to receive Holy Communion. Before that time, boys and girls had to wait many years before they could receive the Lord. He is also the pope of religious instruction. He believed in and loved our Catholic faith. He wanted every Catholic to share in the beauty of the truths of our faith. He really cared about every single person and their spiritual and material needs. He encouraged priests and religion teachers to help everyone learn about their faith.
When World War I broke out, St. Pius X suffered greatly. He knew so many people would be killed. He had said: “I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this horrible suffering.” Toward the end of his life, he also said: “I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor.” He never kept anything for himself, right to the end of his life. Pope Pius X died on August 20, 1914.
Pope St. Pius X was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1954. He was the first pope to be canonized in 242 years.