Pope St Pius X by F.A. Forbes (Review)

Pope St Pius X - F.A. Forbes
Pope St Pius X by F.A. Forbes

This is not an ambitious book.

By contrast, its aims seem rather modest. But there is nothing necessarily wrong with that.

It appears the author sets out to tell the remarkable story of St Pius X – Pope from 1903-1914 – in a way that is most accessible and undemanding.

Thus, one may be disappointed, if one seeks a complex exploration of the man and his times. For that one may need to turn to the far more comprehensive work by Yves Chiron.

Still, I found this humble book from the rather glorious TAN books edifying.  It left me inspired in places and haunted in others.

Inspired – as I felt the heart radiating through the Pope who battled Modernism, the great inspiration of Archbishop Lefebvre (whom the latter of course chose to be the holy patron of the SSPX.)

The heart radiating: here I would indicate the tears of St Pius X – for St Pius X was a man of many, many tears – tears for the world losing Christ.

This is the key – love.

St Pius X loved the people whose spiritual lives were being destroyed the ‘war on piety’ waged by modernising elements everywhere in the early Twentieth Century – from (often unwitting) liberal Catholics within the Church to liberal politicians determined to destroy the Church from without.

This is the key: love – that many a modernist has failed to understand. The heart of St Pius X was ripped open by this war on Christian piety . . .

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His heart was ripped open by the loss of the supernatural that resulted from liberalising efforts – including once more I say, that of often unwitting liberal Catholics who no doubt meant well and genuinely believed they were helping the Church in their efforts to ‘modernise’ her.

And one will find in this book inspiring accounts of the numerous ways St Pius X tried to ‘restore all things in Christ’ omni a, from his efforts to exclude profane music from the Mass to his encouragement of earlier and frequent communion. And so much more …

Yes all this inspires me – as I am inspired by his humility, his care for the poor and again, his tears, his tears …

And I am haunted …

And haunted by the lost world of Catholic Europe, which is frequently evoked here. For St Pius with a weeping heart felt so keenly the terrible forces which threatened to de-Christianise Europe.

And he battled, and he battled.

And yet, where are we nearly a hundred years after his death? The situation is far, far worse than I suspect St Pius X could ever have imagined. (If St Pius X was concerned about profane music in the Mass in 1903, one shudders to think what he would say today!)

And today, many a modern reader will hardly know what I mean by my words above about the ‘war on piety’ …

The modern world has forgotten the history evoked here – the history for example of how the French Republic declared war on the Church. But this little book can help us to remember – if only a little (For again, it is only a little book – a little introduction to a vast subject).

My heart cries out: St Pius X: pray for us!

But just to be clear about the book, dear Reader, I need to say the following.

Most of the volumes I review here, I am passionate about.

By contrast, although I found Forbes’ book definitely useful – a little primer for understanding this Saint and the enormous challenges of his era – I also find myself thirsting for more.

Inspiration from the Saints

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One response to “Pope St Pius X by F.A. Forbes (Review)”

  1. […] In writing my opening sentences above, I am, then, only a extremely late ‘Johnny-come-lately’ – and a poor imitator indeed of Popes like St. Pius X. […]