St. Pius X died in 1914 at the age of 79 after suffering a heart attack. The long road to his sainthood began almost immediately after he was credited with several miracles. CNS file photo

The Register Archives: Canada held a special place for Pius X

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  • August 9, 2018

Pope Pius X died on Aug. 20, 1914, just as the First World War was breaking out across Europe. Born in a small Italian village in 1835, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto rose through the Church ranks and was elected pope in 1903. During his 11-year reign, he was conservative when it came to Church doctrine, but was also known for reforming Church hierarchy and for his devotion to the Eucharist. He was canonized in 1954. Upon his death, Register editor Fr. A. E. Burke (right) penned the obituary in the newspaper, then known as The Catholic Register and Canadian Extension. In an excerpt from that story appearing Aug. 27, 1914, Burke reported on the Pope’s final moments and recounts a meeting he once had with him:


“Together in one, all things in Christ.” 

These words, so like the motto he adopted at the beginning of his career — restauraer omnia in Chisto — were on the lips of Pope Pius X as he entered the valley of death. 

The end, which came at 1:20 o’clock Wednesday morning, was peaceful. A few moments before he had been roused from a state of semi-consciousness and endeavoured to bless those gathered in the chamber, but his strength failed. 

After a pause, broken only by the pent-up grief of his sister and others, he said quite distinctly and fervently, “Together in one, all things in Christ,” and expired. 

Cardinal Merry del Val was greatly moved. He could no longer restrain his tears. “He was even more to me than my master and head,” he said. “He was my second father.” 

The Pope left nothing in his will. He had nothing to leave. “I was poor coming into the world. I am poor going from it,” recited his testament. He left instructions to be buried in St. Peter’s. He asked forgiveness for his sins — especially since he was made Supreme Pontiff. 

O simple, holy, lovely soul of God’s Vice-Regent! Never better Pope lived. 

Requiescat in Pace. 

Amen. 

Canada has much to be grateful to Pius X for. He was always her friend. He had great hope in her future and for Catholic advance in it. 

On one occasion we brought him a beautiful map of the country and although somewhat tired after a hard forenoon’s audience-giving, he brightened up at sight of it, and requesting us to spread it out on the floor of his private office, came over, and on one knee went over it with the delight of a child for a plaything. 

He pointed to the different provinces we indicated and described as the Catholic cause was affected in them, but somehow we forgot British Columbia. He was not going to have the Pacific province overlooked, however. 

With a finger on that part of the map and a knowing look in his expressive eyes, he cried: “Colombia Inglese! Colombia Inglese!” 

We then spoke of that vast territory and the needs of the Church in it. In folding up the map which was in Morocco covers, we said, “Will this be in the Holy Father’s way?” 

“On the contrary,” he replied eagerly, “I want it; I need it; put it on my desk, please.” And he thanked us profusely. 

Pius X gave Canada five new bishoprics — Joliet, Haileybury, Regina, Calgary and Mount Laurier. He gave the Acadians their first bishop in Saint John, the Irish theirs in Charlottetown. He blessed, encouraged and enriched with indulgences the Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada, and called upon all the faithful, clergy and laity to sustain it in its apostolic work. 

Pius X more than once commended The Register-Extension and declared to us personally his appreciation of the Catholic press and The Register especially, and hoped for its entrance into every Catholic home. 

Pius X’s latest favour to Canada — and it was a great favour, indeed — was the inclusion of Archbishop Louis-Nazaire Bégin in the College of Cardinals. 

The Canadian cardinal will feel more keenly than any of us the death of him who so recently spread the Roman purple over his devoted shoulders, but we all have cause to love Pius X, to regret his demise even in the fullness of years, and to pray for his eternal repose persistently. 

(To explore more from The Catholic Register Archive, go to catholicregister.org/archive)

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