Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 15 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Nikolaus Gross
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

During an epidemic St. Pius X treated the sick and buried the dead

POPE PIUS X

Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 08/21/20

As a parish priest St. Pius X, celebrated funerals alone and buried the dead in the midst of a cholera epidemic.

Before becoming pope, St. Pius X was a humble parish priest who went above and beyond his duties to serve his people. It was during a cholera epidemic that his loving heart was on clear display, as he did all that he could to minister to his people.

In one biography, entitled Life of Pius X, Frances Forbes notes the heroic way he continued to shepherd his people during a deadly outbreak.

In 1873 there was a serious outbreak of cholera. The people of Salzano knew little of hygiene and less of sanitation; it was hard to make them take the most necessary precautions. Don Giuseppe [later known as Pius X] was everything at once: doctor, nurse, and sanitary inspector, as well as parish priest. Not only were there the sick and the dying to be tended, but the living to be heartened and consoled. “If it had not been for our dear Don Giuseppe,” said an old man in later days,“ I should have died of fear and sorrow during those dreadful times.” Some of the people took it into their heads that the medicines and remedies ordered by the doctor were intended to put them quickly out of their pain, and would not take them unless they were administered by the priest’s own hand.

Pius X never abandoned his flock and stayed with them, making sure they were buried with great dignity at a time when funerals were only allowed at the graveside, with a strict restriction on attendance.

For fear of infection, the dead had to be buried by night, and no one was allowed to attend the funeral. Anxious lest in the fear and the haste of the moment due honor should not be paid to these victims of the epidemic, Don Giuseppe was always there to see that all was done as it should be. Not only did he recite the prayers and carry out the ceremonies prescribed by the Church on such occasions, but would take his place as coffin bearer, and even helped to dig the graves.

His health suffered from ministering to the needs of his faithful, but that did not stop him. Even the bishop ordered him to take some rest, but St. Pius X put his health in God’s hands.

The Bishop wrote to [Don Giuseppe], ordering him to take a little more care of himself; but this was an art which Don Giuseppe had never studied, and he did not know how to begin. He continued to devote himself body and soul to his flock, leaving himself to the care of God. His strong constitution gradually recovered from the strain it had undergone, and the apprehensions of his friends were fortunately not realized.

This extraordinary care for others carried on throughout the rest of his life, and he never wavered in his desire to minister to the needs of those that were suffering.


POPE PIUS X

Read more:
A short prayer of Pope St. Pius X that you can recite before getting to work


SAINT RITA OF CASCIA

Read more:
How St. Rita miraculously saved a girl from a plague

Tags:
COVID-19Saints
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
FORGIVING COUPLE
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Why God loves ordinary stuff: Pope Francis' r...
POPE FRANCIS; Ash Wednesday
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Vatican: Imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday...
D'CRUZ FAMILY
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the family of 12 siblings with a very sp...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.