(CNS) — Known as the “pope of the Eucharist,” Pius X was born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto to a poor family in 1835 at Riese, near Venice.
After being ordained for the Treviso Diocese in 1858, he served in small parishes before being named diocesan chancellor and spiritual director of the seminary. Pope Leo XIII named him bishop of Mantua in 1884 and a cardinal and patriarch of Venice in 1893.
He was elected pope in 1903. During his pontificate, he lowered the age for receiving first Holy Communion to 7, encouraged daily Communion and daily Bible reading and promoted biblical study for laypeople. He also reformed the liturgy, promoted clear and simple homilies and brought back Gregorian chant, revised the Breviary, reorganized the curia and initiated the codification of canon law.
He died in 1914 of natural causes reportedly aggravated by worries over the beginning of World War I. Pope Pius XII canonized his predecessor in 1954.
He is the patron of St. Pius X Church in Phoenix, where the Office of Black Catholic Ministry celebrates its monthly Unity Mass and where the diocesan Croatian Community celebrates its bimonthly Mass.