Pope Pius X (1903-1914), like his predecessor Pope Leo XIII, is known for vigorously opposing modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting liturgical reforms and scholastic philosophy and theology. Under Popes Leo and Pius modern Biblical Studies was born. Yet, Pope Pius was an indomitable champion of Mary and Her Rosary. Following the tradition of his predecessor, Pius IX, Pius X held a strong devotion to Mary. He dedicated an entire encyclical on the Mystery of the Immaculate Conception. The Italian pope definitively declared the significance of Mary in Ad Dieum Illum Laetissimum. Pope St. Pius X was an influential successor of St. Peter at the turn of the 20th century. Born Giuseppe Mechiorre Sarto in 1835, he lived near Venice, Italy. Coming from a poor family of ten children, Giuseppe acquired an education aided through his keen intellect and high moral character. Eventually, he rose the ranks of the Catholic Church and became Supreme Pontiff in 1903. He led the Church until 1914.
Always remembering his humble roots, Pope Pius has been quoted; "The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God...and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary." He suggested how the power of the Rosary is present in all homes; “If there were one million families praying the Rosary every day, the entire world would be saved”. Elsewhere, he stated; “Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been so favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary”.
A favorite theme of Pope Pius was the unique bond between Mary and Jesus. Perhaps, his most famous quote is;
For can anyone fail to see that there is no surer or more direct road than by Mary for uniting all mankind in Christ and obtaining through Him the perfect adoption of sons, that we may be holy and immaculate in the sight of God?… it surely follows that His Mother most holy should be recognized as participating in the divine mysteries and as being in a manner the guardian of them, and that upon her as upon a foundation, the noblest after Christ, rises the edifice of the faith of all centuries.
“God could have given us the Redeemer of the human race, and the Founder of the Faiths in another way than through the Virgin, but since Divine Providence has been pleased that we should have the Man-God through Mary, who conceived Him by the Holy Spirit and bore Him in her womb, it only remains for us to receive Christ from the hands of Mary.“
From this he argued, often, for the intercession of Mary;
“By this companionship in sorrow and suffering already mentioned between the Mother and the Son, it has been allowed to the august Virgin to be the most powerful mediatrix and advocate of the whole world with her Divine Son (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 13)”.
Pope Pius lived in turbulent times and offered several comforting thoughts on Mary and the Rosary;
“We put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of the evils which afflict our time”. Also, he writes;
“Truly, we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own, the lamentation of the Prophet: “There is no truth and there is no mercy and there is no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1).
Yet, in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes, like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace
between God and man.”
In the Encyclical on the Immaculate Conception, he writes;
“Who could better than His Mother have an open knowledge of the admirable mysteries of the birth and childhood of Christ, and above all of the mystery of the Incarnation, which is the beginning and the foundation of faith? Mary not only preserved and meditated on the events of Bethlehem and the facts which took place in Jerusalem in the Temple of the Lord, but sharing as she did the thoughts and the secret wishes of Christ she may be said to have lived the very life of her Son. Hence nobody ever knew Christ so profoundly as she did, and nobody can ever be more competent as a guide and teacher of the knowledge of Christ”.
Many of Pope Pius words can and should resonate with Catholics today. We are under attack, from many sides, as never before. But, as promised, the power of Mary, through Her Rosary, will protect us.