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The time the emperor’s veto helped ... a saintly pope [Pius X]
30Days in the Church and World ^ | August 2003 | Andrea Tornielli

Posted on 04/21/2005 6:30:59 PM PDT by topher

The time the emperor’s veto helped the election of a saintly pope

A hundred years ago, on 4 August, Giuseppe Sarto was elected pope with the title Pius X. Not least thanks to the veto that Franz Josef, the emperor of Austria, put on the Sicilian Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro

by Andrea Tornielli


      A hundred years have passed since the conclave in August 1903 elected Cardinal Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto as pope. The last pontiff to have been proclaimed saint, a great pastor pope who gave small children the possibility of going to first communion. From the following episode, that goes back to the time he was bishop of Mantua, the great inner freedom of Pope Sarto emerges. One day, walking through the city with the rector of the seminary, he found himself in front of the Jewish cemetery. He asked his companion whether he recited the De profundis for those dead. The monsignor answered no. At which Bishop Sarto took off his hat and recited the whole psalm, and then said to the young priest: «You see, now we’ve done our part. The Lord will do his. Because it’s not said that the Lord’s theology is that taught by the Jesuits Fathers at the Gregorian University».
      “Political” pope
      or “pastor” Pope
When Leo XIII died at the age of ninety-three after a reign that lasted a quarter of a century, he did not leave an untroubled inheritance. Many cardinals wanted a shift towards the “pastoral”, a pope who was neither a “politician” nor a “diplomat”. The high-profile candidate was instead a man who embodied the other line, that of direct continuity with Leo XIII. He was an aristocratic and pious Sicilian, Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro, up to then Secretary of State. His election was backed by most of the French cardinals, but he was opposed by Austria because of his policy in support of the aspirations of the Slavs who were causing unrest in the Balkans. The Austrian emperor decided to make use of an ancient right of veto, granted to the great Catholic monarchies, to block the election of Rampolla.
      The bishop of Krakow Jan Puzyna de Kozielsko, a precursor of Karol Wojtyla, was informed of the veto. According to some, the move came from Cardinal Puzyna himself, who push it forward with the then elderly and wavering Franz Josef. Informed of the “ban”, the Austro-Hungarian cardinals decided on two names: Cardinals Serafino Vannutelli and Girolamo Maria Gotti, the latter of whom was the Carmelite Prefect of Propaganda Fide. There were some cardinals, among them the Archbishop of Milan Andrea Carlo Ferrari, who wanted a candidate with a decidedly pastoral bent. And they picked on Sarto, the Patriarch of Venice, as the ideal. His name however didn’t come up in the early forecasts. But it’s interesting to note that in the newspapers, already before the beginning of the conclave, the candidacy of Rampolla del Tindaro was given as a dead certainty. On the evening of 31 July sixty-two cardinals entered the seclusion of the conclave.
      The insistence
      of Cardinal Ferrari
On the morning of 1 August the polling began, two counts a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. To be elected a two-thirds majority was needed, that is 42 votes. On the first poll, Rampolla gained 24 votes, Gotti 12, Sarto 5, Vannutelli 4. In the afternoon Rampolla moved up to 29 and Sarto to 10, while Gotti made 16. When examined the situation did not look good for Rampolla: of the 38 electors who in the morning had voted for other candidates, only 5 had decided to give him their backing. The conclave looked hung even before the famous veto was announced. The Patriarch of Venice, having climbed to 10 votes, noted: «Volunt iocari supra nomen meum», they want to have fun with my name. He didn’t believe he was a real candidate.
      On the morning of 2 August, after first informing Rampolla, Puzyna read out the text of the “ban” in Latin, asking the Chamberlain “to learn for his own information and to notify and declare in unofficial fashion, in the name and with the authority of his Apostolic Majesty Franz Josef, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, that, His Majesty wishing to make use of an ancient law and privilege, pronounced the veto of exclusion against the most eminent Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro». More that a veto, it seems the expression of a desire, avowed “in unofficial fashion”. Immediately after, both the Chamberlain and Rampolla himself protested. Everyone associated themselves, declaring the interference absurd and out of place. Nevertheless, that morning, in the polling, the former Secretary of State of Leo XIII didn’t get a vote to add to the 29 of the evening before. Sarto, instead, went up to 21, while Gotti’s candidacy waned, coming down to 9. It was an evident sign of the split in the conclave.

      In the afternoon, the French cardinals, irritated by Rampolla’s defeat, decided to make a protest against the veto. It was an attempt to gather votes for the former Secretary of State. Immediately afterward Cardinal Sarto spoke out: «It’s certain I shall never accept the papacy, for which I feel unworthy. I ask the most eminent [cardinals] to forget my name». In the following poll Rampolla went up by just one vote, Sarto went from 21 to 24, Gotti came down to 3.
      Given the hung position Cardinal Ferrari tried to persuade Sarto, who however resisted: «I feel unequal to the burden. It’s impossible for me to take on… I shall have my first enemies among the nearest; I know well the very people supporting me, they can’t be well-meaning…». Ferrari insisted: « A refusal could cost you very dear and be painful for the rest of your life… Think of the responsibility and of the harm that would come to Holy Church either from an election that would be loathed in Italy and outside, or from such a prolongation of the conclave that one cannot say (and all agree) whether it will be of days, of weeks or even of months».
      The humility of the Patriarch
Cardinal Ferrari returned to the charge, in vain, on the morning of 3 August 1903. In the first poll, Sarto went up to 27 votes, while Rampolla begin to come down and got only 24. The Patriarch of Venice once again asked to speak: «I insist that you forget my name. Before my conscience and before God I cannot accept your votes». Words like a cold shower for his supporters, who didn’t intend to elect him only to hear him then refuse. Meanwhile the French cardinals suggested to Rampolla the possibility of shifting his votes onto another candidate suitable to him. But the former Secretary of State resisted: «The freedom of the Sacred College,» he said, «and freedom in choosing the pope, must be supported and defended. I therefore consider it my duty not to withdraw from the struggle». In reality the Austrian veto, in this case, seems to have been almost an excuse for Rampolla to hold on stubbornly in the face of a stalemate, obvious already before the imperial pronouncement, rather than a decisive impediment to his election.
      The intervention of Cardinal Francesco Satolli was decisive in those hours. Meeting Sarto as he came out of his cell, he reproached him: «Your Eminence means to resist the wish of God so openly manifested by the Sacred College…». Sarto finally gave in. He lifted his hands in surrender and said: «God’s will be done». The news went immediately from mouth to mouth in the conclave. In the afternoon poll the Patriarch of Venice went up to 35 votes, Rampolla came down to 16.
      The American cardinal James Gibbons was to note: «At every poll in which he saw the votes grow in his favor, Cardinal Sarto spoke out to beg the Sacred College to desist from the idea of electing him: his voice trembled every time, his face burned, and tears flowed from his eyes. He tried each time to document more minutely than before the requisites for the papacy he seemed to himself to lack. And instead, would you believe it? It was those speeches, so full of humility and wisdom, that made his entreaties ever more futile».
      «I shall call myself Pius»
On the morning of the following day the French cardinals, irritated by Rampolla’s resistance, passed to Sarto who, thanks also to them, obtained 50 votes (42 were required), Rampolla 10, Gotti 2. The elected pope replied to the ritual question: «Quoniam calix non potest transire, fiat voluntas Dei [Since the chalice cannot pass away, let God’s will be done]. Trusting in the divine protection of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the saintly pontiffs called by the name of Pius, above all those who fought strenuously in the last century against the sects and the tide of errors, I assume the name of Pius X».


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: conclave; piusx; rampolla
In a speech of December 8, 1930, Monsignor Jouin claimed that Cardinal Mariano Rampolla was in fact a Freemason and a Freemason of the most vile kind. Various sources refer to Rampolla as a liberal.

There is all sort of intrigue in finding the why of the Austrian Franz Josep's veto of Cardinal Rampolla.

Web searches will find some interesting articles -- including the support of the predecessor of Pope John Paul II when he was Archbishop of Krakow. It was the then Archbishop of Krakow who played an important role.

1 posted on 04/21/2005 6:31:00 PM PDT by topher
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To: NYer; Salvation; Coleus; Lady In Blue; fatima

Catholic ping

2 posted on 04/21/2005 6:32:58 PM PDT by topher ("Terri -- You can eat and drink now! A much higher Judge overruled the previous court order...".)
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To: topher

Well, the most important issue to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1903 would have been maintaining their hold on their Balkan holdings. Did Rampolla perhaps have some connection with Serbia/Croatia or Orthodox Christianity in general?

3 posted on 04/21/2005 6:46:14 PM PDT by swilhelm73 (Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. --Lord Acton)
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To: topher

"On the first poll, Rampolla gained 24 votes, Gotti 12, Sarto 5, Vannutelli 4."

How is this known? Conclaves are secret!

4 posted on 04/21/2005 6:57:35 PM PDT by Fudd Fan (Still thankful we didn't have to march to the AlGoreRhythm)
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To: topher

Bump for later read,Thanks topher.

5 posted on 04/21/2005 8:03:26 PM PDT by fatima (Who loves you baby.)
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To: topher
Someone privately asked about Monsignor Jouin's comments/speech. Here is the link:

Speech of Monsignor Jouin on December 8, 1930

6 posted on 04/21/2005 8:18:29 PM PDT by topher ("Terri -- You can eat and drink now! A much higher Judge overruled the previous court order...".)
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To: Fudd Fan
How is this known? Conclaves are secret!

I don't think secrecy was instituted until later in the 20th century. I think there is a diary of some 20th century conclavist recording exact vote tallies.

Of course, that doesn't mean we should trust any putative historical records posted on the Internet.

7 posted on 04/21/2005 10:41:50 PM PDT by Dumb_Ox (Be not Afraid. "Perfect love drives out fear.")
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To: topher

Got any more like this? I hope so and will look for them, very inspiring. Thanks for a great post, topher.

8 posted on 04/21/2005 10:42:15 PM PDT by Floratina
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To: topher
American Catholic’s Saint of the Day

August 21, 2007
St. Pius X

Pope Pius X is perhaps best remembered for his encouragement of the frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children.

The second of 10 children in a poor Italian family, Joseph Sarto became Pius X at 68, one of the twentieth century’s greatest popes.

Ever mindful of his humble origin, he stated, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I will die poor.” He was embarrassed by some of the pomp of the papal court. “Look how they have dressed me up,” he said in tears to an old friend. To another, “It is a penance to be forced to accept all these practices. They lead me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when he was seized in Gethsemani.”

Interested in politics, he encouraged Italian Catholics to become more politically involved. One of his first papal acts was to end the supposed right of governments to interfere by veto in papal elections—a practice that reduced the freedom of the conclave which elected him.

In 1905, when France renounced its agreement with the Holy See and threatened confiscation of Church property if governmental control of Church affairs were not granted, Pius X courageously rejected the demand.

While he did not author a famous social encyclical as his predecessor had done, he denounced the ill treatment of the Indians on the plantations of Peru, sent a relief commission to Messina after an earthquake and sheltered refugees at his own expense.

On the eleventh anniversary of his election as pope, Europe was plunged into World War I. Pius had foreseen it, but it killed him. “This is the last affliction the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge.” He died a few weeks after the war began.


His humble background was no obstacle in relating to a personal God and to people whom he loved genuinely. He gained his strength, his gentleness and warmth for people from the source of all gifts, the Spirit of Jesus. In contrast, we often feel embarrassed by our backgrounds. Shame makes us prefer to remain aloof from people whom we perceive as superior. If we are in a superior position, on the other hand, we often ignore simpler people. Yet we, too, have to help “restore all things in Christ,” especially the wounded people of God.


Describing Pius X, a historian wrote that he was “a man of God who knew the unhappiness of the world and the hardships of life, and in the greatness of his heart wanted to comfort everyone.”

9 posted on 08/21/2007 2:57:43 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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