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Pope St. Pius X as a Church Reformer

It is known that Pope St. Pius X, the well-known Pope of the Catholic Church who served from 1903 to 1914, is regarded as the first canonized Pope since Pope Pius V. The Bishops called him “a Great Saint and a Great Pope”. (Chiron 12) St. Pius X contributed a lot to the development of Catholic Church including his liturgical and canonical reforms.

One of the greatest contributions of Pope St. Pius X was the improvement of Vatican relations with the government of Italy. St. Pius X changed the Church’s relation to the Italian state that was known as “a usurper of many papal possessions”.(Diethelm 22) Moreover, he managed “to reach a modus vivendi” with the Italian state according to which neither side of the agreement admitted wrong or accused the other side of doing wrong. Besides, the Italian Catholics were allowed to take part in political life of the country. Pius was one of the first Popes who represented several conditions under which the Catholics had their right to vote for political candidates. (Chiron 35)

Moreover, Pope St. Pius X, as a Church reformer introduced some changes in teaching of catechism, in the system of education and preaching of priests. It is known that he also promoted reverence for Eucharist and introduced a number of other liturgical reforms. (Diethelm 19) In addition, he took initiative in rewriting the Catholic Church Code of Canon Law, and reconstructed the central administration of the Roman Church – the Curia. He ordered to stop “popular but bad liturgical music” and declared the Gregorian chant and classical polyphony to be the sacred music of the rite. He told, “I want my people to pray on beauty”. (Santogrossi)

However, one of Pope St. Pius X’s characteristics of reformer was his attitude to modernists. It is found that in his well-known encyclical Pascendi, Pope St. Pius X wrote about modernism, “can anybody be surprised that We should define it as the synthesis of all heresies?” (Michael) The Catholic Pope defined modernism as one of the most dangerous threats to the Catholic Church because modernism could destroy the Faith infecting the minds of many Catholics. (St. Pius X) Pope Pius X was called “an obscurantist” because he refused to change the Catholic Faith. It is known that “Modernist” clergy had the aim to propose a new Christianity that was based on “religious experience” which should transform the meaning of dogmas to make them authentic. Pope Pius X was against modernism.(Talar) In the decree Lamentabili Sane Exitu of 1907, Pope Pius X condemned 65 modernist propositions regarding the nature of the Church, the sacraments and revelation, biblical exegesis and the divinity of Christ. (Forbes 23)


In conclusion, it is necessary to say that Pope St. Pius X was a true Church reformer who tried to do everything possible to develop and, at the same time, to defense the Church. His anti-modernism policy, liturgical changes, the beginning of codification of Canon Law in the Catholic Church, reforms of Church administration, reforms in education of priests and other contributions made Pope St. Pius a respectable churchman.



Chiron, Y. Pope Saint Pius X: Restorer of the Church. Angelus Press, Kansas City, 2002. Print.
Diethelm, W. St. Pius X : The Farm Boy Who Became Pope. Ignatius Press. 1994. Print.
Forbes, F. Pope St. Pius the X. Saint Benedict Press. 1987. Print.
Michael, Y. Pope Saint Pius X against Modernism. Catholics Apologetics Information. 2009. Retrieved from:<http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/modernism/piusx.html>
Santogrossi, A. Pope St. Pius X: Modern Defender of the Catholic Faith. Mount Angel Letter. Winter, 2004, Vol.4. Retrieved from:< http://www.luigiguanella.com/PiusX.html>
St. Pius X. Christ’s Faithful People. Defending the Faith. 2010. Retrieved from:<http://www.cfpeople.org/Books/Pope/POPEp255.htm>
Talar, C. Swearing against Modernism: Sacrorum Antistitum. Theological Studies. Vol.71(3)