He was born in the village of Riese, near Venice, one of ten children of a very poor family. He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 23. He was successively bishop of Mantua and of Venice, and was elected Pope, against his wishes, in 1903. In his time as Pope, he sought to “restore all things in Christ.” He insisted on the separation of Church and State, and banned the formation of political associations that claimed exclusive religious sanction for their political programme, whether of the Left or of the Right. He revised the code of Canon Law, founded an institute for scriptural studies, and initiated the revision of the Latin translation of the Bible (the Vulgate) and the reform of the liturgy. He lived in great poverty even when he was Pope, and preached sermons every Sunday in the courtyards of the Vatican, to any who would listen. In his simplicity and goodness of heart, he performed miracles even when he was alive, and the clamour for his canonization started immediately after his death, on 20th August 1914, broken-hearted at the outbreak of the First World War.
Prayer from Morning Prayer:
you filled Pope Saint Pius with wisdom
and gave him the strength of an apostle
to defend the Catholic faith and to renew all things in Christ.
Grant that we may follow his example and teaching,
and so come to our reward in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.