Fr. Scott A. Haynes
Is there any exemplary model to whom we could look to show us how to honor our mother? Perhaps we could look to the story of Guiseppe Sarto (1835 – 1914). Sarto was a Cardinal Archbishop, the Patriarch of Venice, Italy, from 1893-1903. But, in the hot Roman summer of 1903, Pope Leo XIII passed away. It was July 20, 1903. And Sarto was called to Rome for the conclave of Cardinals.
The Cardinals met in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope. The day of the election would be August 4, 1903, and, lo and behold, the Cardinals elected Cardinal Sarto to be the next Pope. After Sarto began to walk out of the Sistine Chapel his next duty was to go to the Papal Balcony to greet the people in St. Peter’s Square and give his first Papal Blessing.
As he was about to go onto the balcony, he saw his mother standing there. She had been spotted in the crowd standing in St. Peter’s Square and brought into the Apostolic Palace so that she could be present with her son—the new Pope. He went over to her. She was so pleased to see him. Her son had just been elected Pope! It was an incredible moment and a highlight of her life. He extended his hand with his papal ring for her to kiss. She then said,
“Son it would be my greatest honor, as your mother, to be the first to kiss your ring as Pope, but perhaps, you should first kneel down and kiss my wedding ring, for without it, you would not be here.”
Thus, Pope St. Pius X began his Pontificate on his knees before his mother, kissing her wedding ring, honoring his mother and father, who by their generosity, fidelity and love gave him the gift of life, who taught him right from wrong and nurtured him in prayer. As we look to Pope St. Pius X as an exemplar of how to honor our mothers, we are mindful of this commandment of the Law:
“Honour thy father and mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, that thou mayst live a long time, and it may be well with thee in the land, which the Lord thy God will give thee.” (Deut. 5:16)