Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Children's Pope

"My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the weakest by His Divine help. I can do all in Him who strengthens me. His Power is infinite, and if I lean on him, it will be mine. His Wisdom is infinite, and if I look to Him for counsel, I shall not be deceived. His Goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed in Him, I shall not be abandoned." - Pope Saint Pius X

Even as a young boy, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto (1835-1914) was already showing promise and excessive holiness to his family and neighbors. He was a very bright (even until he was older and wore his bright white cassock!) and intelligent student who was always eager to learn and help his family, neighbors, and classmates. He would even win most school prizes. Although the senior elementary school was four miles away from his hometown, he and his brothers always did their best to not miss a single day of it. Since he did come from a poor family; and he did have only one pair of shoes, he would sometimes walk barefoot to school, trying to save his shoes. After a while his father bought them a little wagon and a donkey to pull them to school. Although the wagon was not new and the donkey was not young, the boys didn't mind the old cart when it creaked and groaned when they rode. At least they wouldn't have to walk... Sometimes they would get into arguments deciding who would get to play "coachman", but Bepi, as everyone called him, would always win and drive the donkey to school. Like most saints around before and around his time, before his First Communion he himself had begged the pastor to allow him to receive his Our Lord earlier than usual. But his answer would always be a nice "When you are older, you can," then a wink before saying next, "Some day, Bepi, when you are Pope, you can grant permission to all the children of the world to receive Holy Communion at an early age." Sixty years later, Bepi did just that.

When he was eleven years old, he had already decided to become a priest, and told his family about his decision. His parents were a bit surprised and at the same time, thrilled at the thought of giving their son to God. Bepi was the oldest of eight children, and was quite a bit help to the family and their farm. They desperately needed him, 'but if God wants him,' they decided, 'then God shall have him.'

By the time he was fifteen he finished his school and reached the top of the list of those who had the highest scores in all the subjects. He received prizes and conquered the examination (yay), yet he was the only one who had the least time to study. Right after he would come home from school he would pitch in to help with the chores... take care of the stable, help his father with his job, or herd the cattle. If he ever had any free time, that time would gladly be put to use to volunteer with anything else his father or mother needed. But the day that he finished the last examination in his school and came home, the poor country boy's mind wasn't exactly set on performing his usual chores. Rather, his mind was set on his decision and whatever step he would take in his vocation. He wished to go to the seminary... but who would pay for his education there? He didn't want his father to worry more than he already was with his leaving home. After having sought the parish priest for advice, he stormed heaven with his prayers. Everyday he begged the Queen of Heaven for her motherly help at a nearby shrine. Bepi knew in his heart that his future life, his vocation to the priesthood depended on his prayers.

During those days of deep prayer for Bepi, the parish priest wrote a letter to a cardinal who gave out several scholarships for free schooling and board at the seminary where Bepi wished to go to. After he sent the letter, Bepi and his family prayed harder than ever... novena after novena and rosary after rosary... it seemed as if no reply would ever come. Every morning when Bepi would come to the morning Mass to serve he would ask if there was any reply yet.

At last, after about a month of storming heaven, Bepi, the future Pope and saint, received a reply from that cardinal. He and his whole village rejoiced to find that Bepi had indeed been given a scholarship to the seminary in Padua.


Part 2 will be posted next year. :-)

Prayer to Saint Pius X
Glorious Pope of the Eucharist, Saint Pius X, you sought "to restore all things in Christ." Obtain for me a true love of Jesus so that I may live only for Him. Help me to acquire a lively fervor and a sincere will to strive for sanctity of life, and that I may avail myself of the riches of the Holy Eucharist in sacrifice and sacrament. By your love for Mary, mother and queen of all, inflame my heart with tender devotion to her. Blessed model of the priesthood, obtain for us holy, dedicated priests, and increase vocations to the religious life. Dispel confusion and hatred and anxiety, and incline our hearts to peace and concord. so that all nations will place themselves under the sweet reign of Christ.


Saint Pius X, pray for me.

prayer and pic source, and the info from the book Saint Pius X, The Farm Boy who Became Pope, by Walter Diethelm, O.S.B.

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