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His Holiness Pope Pius X in the Vatican Garden

( Originally Published 1907 )



This offers a characteristic view of the Pontiff. He is wearing over his white soutane or cassock a red cloak with a cape, and carries in his hand the clerical hat with band and tassels of gold. We can see that he is not tall. His face has the homely, kindly look of the father of the family, and it is the indication of his simple, benignant nature, unspoiled by the dazzling honors that have pursued him all his life. His family were peasants, and still follow humble avocations in northern Italy ; though he is now a monarch, and noted among monarchs as the most respected and beloved by his people.

Mark the dome behind him. To see these two in juxtaposition is significant and worth remembering; for the great Church is typified in that monument raised by Michelangelo, and to the faithful the living Pope is the human sum of the Church. The secret of the Pope's lofty position in the world lies in the devotion of the two hundred and fifty millions of people who call him their leader. In the Middle Ages the Pope was by the political circumstances of those times the arbiter of the nations, the king of kings, the Father of Christendom ; he had a temporal kingdom and an army ; and, at the reunions of kings, monarchs were glad to hold his stirrup and lead his horse by the bridle rein, both from affection and from faith. Now all that earthly glory and pomp have passed away, yet his power remains unchanged. He is still the Father of the Faithful, the infallible teacher, the supreme legislator for the Church, the beloved leader of bishops, priests and people. His lightest word is respected and obeyed. Although Napoleon could imprison him in 18o9, as did the French Republic earlier, no power would venture on that measure today, when the news of the event could reach every country on earth. Even the Sultan treats with him and sends him gifts.

Although Pius X appears so modest and benevolently unassuming, we must remember that his training and association have been royal. He has sat for twenty years at the table of kings and dealt with the keenest statesmen of Italy; he enjoyed the confidence of Leo XIII in most delicate matters, and had relations with the Italian King. He has touched the highest point of greatness, and yet remains what we see him at this moment, a simple Italian priest, so thoroughly human that no success could ever spoil him.

Our next position is indicated on the map by the figure 33, at a point a few rods farther along this same avenue. The red lines tell us that we shall turn and look across a part of the garden which is now at our left, seeing a part of the palace beyond. From that point we shall overlook an open space of the Vatican garden and take in the northwest corner of the palace.



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