St. Pius X and the Order of Preachers

August 21, 2014

Elected to the Chair of Peter on the feast of St. Dominic in 1903, St. Pius X showed a special solicitude for the Order of Preachers. In addition to his well-known efforts to increase authentic liturgical participation, lower the age requirement for receiving Holy Communion, and preserve the integrity of the faith, Pope Pius X took care to encourage the development of the Dominican Order, especially by supporting the establishment of the Angelicum in Rome (now known as the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas). According to an account by Katherine Burton,

One of the first visitors to the Holy Father [after his election on August 4, 1903] was the Prior General of the Dominicans [Bl. Hyacinth Cormier, O.P.,] who had a special request to make. “I once thought of joining your Order,” said the Pope in reply, “and although I did not do that, at least I can say that I was chosen Pope on Saint Dominic’s feast day.” Then he promised to do what Leo XIII had done—to assume the protectorate of the Dominican Order.

On Wednesday, May 18th, 1910, at the inauguration ceremony of the Angelicum, Bl. Hyacinth Cormier, O.P. read the text of an autograph letter he had received from the Holy Father:

To the Most Reverend Father Hyacinth Cormier, Master General of the Friars Preachers.

Most Reverend Father: I take the liveliest interest in the feast which the beloved sons of St. Dominic, the religious of the Order of Friars Preachers, are celebrating to-day on the occasion of the formal inauguration of their new college, the ‘Angelico.’ And I unite myself in spirit with their Eminences, the Cardinals who are going to bless the house, and also with the religious who are invoking the aid of heaven. With them I pray that God may deign to visit your home and, driving far from it all the wiles of the enemy, may deign to send His angel from heaven to keep, to cherish, and to defend all who dwell in it.

With all paternal affection, I bestow upon you, upon the Fathers and students of the College the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at the Vatican, the 16th of May, 1910. Pius PP. X.

According to the testimony of an American Dominican writing shortly after St. Pius X’s death,

the sons of St. Dominic in the United States also experienced the benign influence of the beloved Pontiff. The broad Atlantic was not broad enough to place them beyond the aegis of their Protector. He especially encouraged them in their labors in the cause of the Holy Name, by repeatedly sending autograph letters to the editors of the Holy Name Journal, the official organ of the Holy Name Society, approving their work, and enriching the society with generous indulgences. Sanctioned by such authority, the Holy Name movement in the United States is progressing phenomenally, and is enrolling thousands of Catholic men within its ranks.

Today, on the feast of St. Pius X, we invoke his intercession for the whole Church and especially for his beloved Order of Preachers:

O God, who to safeguard the Catholic faith and to restore all things in Christ, filled Pope Saint Pius the Tenth with heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude, graciously grant that, following his teaching and example, we may gain an eternal prize.

— Br. Innocent Smith, o.p.

Image: Giuseppe Felici (1839-1923), Pope Pius X portrayed working in the Vatican Gardens, July 15, 1913. For more information about St. Pius X and the Order of Preachers, see: Katherine Burton, The Great Mantle: The Life of Giuseppe Melchiore Sarto, Pope Pius X (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1950). Philip Horton, O.P., “Our New International College—The Angelico,” Dominican Year Book (1911) 88–92. Luke Thornton, O.P., “Pope Pius X—Pope Benedict XV,” Dominican Year Book (1915) 68–72.

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