Page 5, 13th October 1939

13th October 1939
Page 5
Page 5, 13th October 1939 — PIO DECIMO

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Memories of Pope Pius X. By Cardinal Merry del Val. (Burns Oates and Washbourne, 3s. 13d.) Reviewed by G. ELLIOT ANSTRUTHER Four Cardinals have had a part in bringing this volume of intimate recollections to our reading public. First and chief, of course, is the author, Cardinal Merry del Val. That lamented prelate, at his death, left his manuscript in the hands of Cardinal Canali, who has now sanctioned its publication. A Foreword to the book was written by Cardinal Hayes, the late Archbishop of New York, whose own death occurred last year; His Eminence's words appear as a posthumous commendation. And Cardinal Hinsley, in a brief tribute both to Pius X and to his faithful secretary and chronicler, will send many to Raphael Merry del Val's pages by his testimony to a piece of writing that must " charm and attract all who read it."

These recollections are not of the common ruck of notes, the garnered sayings and doings of their illustrious subject, slavishly set down on the cuff for literary use when wanted. Cardinal Merry del Val wrote, after Pope Pius's death, of the Pontiff as he, personally, had known him in the close approach of friend and Secretary of State. Rarely does he invoke ipsissisna verba, but in one of those rare places the citation is remarkable : " Erninenza," said the Pope to the Cardinal, " non passererno il '14" —we shall not get beyond 1914. The point is that Pius X made this prophecy —for so it proved indeed—two or three years before the direful outbreak of the Great War on which him thought was bent. The Great War : His Holiness even used those very words. " I do not mean this war," he said, alluding to the Italians in Libya and to the trouble in the Balkans, " but the Great War . . Il guerrone." That war, when it came, hastened the saintly Pontiff's end, taking from us a man who, as these pages amply demonstrate, deserves, by the quality and nature of his gifts, to rank among the most notable of the Popes of modern timea. It was only at the Conclave which chose him _hat Pius X became known to Mgr. Merry del Val, who tells us of the surprise with which he himself learned that the newly-elected Pope had made him his Secretary of State. A deep affection was swiftly engendered between the two men, the disciple eagerly learning from and following the master. As Cardinal Hinsley puts it: " the devotion and love of the aristocratic secretary reflect the qualities of the humble peasant who was raised to the highest dignity on earth."

The present book is not a biography; its concern is solely with the years of the pontificate. Singly, the chapters have an air of detachment; they are, however, as links in a chain of recollection, examination, tribute. Many readers will turn with interest to the pages Continued at foot of next column.

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