Teaching and defending the faith was the mission that guided the actions of Pope Saint Pius X, the holy pontiff who deeply believed that children should not be excluded from the Eucharist.
Kelly Marcum, founder and president of the Gratia Plena Institute, an organization that teaches high school girls about authentic femininity, explained the work the pope carried out for the little ones in an article for the National Catholic Register
The writer indicated that she fondly recalls the pontiff’s brave courage and “adherence to Christ’s vision for his Church.” But she particularly notes his love for children that characterized the saint who guided the Church from 1903-1914.
“Let the little children come to me”
“Pius X took to heart Jesus’s request to ‘let the little children come to me.’
“As the Bishop of Mantua, and later the Patriarch of Venice, Pius X, then called Bishop Sarto, frequently carried candy in his pockets, distributing them among the street children on his daily walks around the city. He often took the opportunity to teach them short lessons on the Catechism as they ate the sweets,” she noted.
Marcum remarked that when Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was elected Pope and took Pius X as his name, he met with children during papal audiences, asking them “not only about the faith, but about their daily lives, and listening with interest to their stories and chatter.”
In addition, the pontiff saw children as “equal heirs of heaven, entrusted to their parents, teachers, and priests.”
“During his years as Chancellor of Traviso and Spiritual Director of that seminary, he would organize Catechism classes for the city children, who attended public school where religion had been outlawed by Italy’s secular government,” Marcum added.
The Eucharist: A Gift For All
“Pius X did not believe that children should be excluded from partaking in the Body of Christ. Often called the ‘Pope of the Eucharist,’ Pius X frequently extolled the reception of Holy Communion as the ‘shortest and safest way to get to heaven.'” she said.
Marcum remarked that, despite the conventions of the time, the holy pope determined that “Christ never meant his Body to be reserved for adults, [and] forbidden to the children he loved so much.”
“In 1910, Pius issued the Quam Singulari decree, which reduced the age of First Communion from 12 to 7 years, the so-called ‘age of discernment,’” Marcum explained.
“Once, when a four-year-old boy impressed the Pope with his clarity and understanding of the Eucharist, Pius X offered the boy his First Communion.”