Pope Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was the head of the Catholic Church from 4 August 1903 to his death in 1914. He was the first pope since Pius V (1566 to 1572) to be canonized. Pius X rejected modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox theology. His most important reform was to publish the first Code of Canon Law, which collected the laws of the Church into one volume for the first time. He was a pastoral pope, encouraging personal piety and a lifestyle reflecting Christian values. He was born in the town of Riese, which would later append "Pio X" (Pius X's name in Italian) to the town's name.
His immediate predecessor had actively promoted a synthesis between the Catholic Church and secular culture; faith and science; and divine revelation and reason. Pius X defended the Catholic faith against popular 19th-century views such as indifferentism and relativism which his predecessors had warned against as well. He followed the example of Leo XIII by promoting Thomas Aquinas and Thomism as the principal philosophical method to be taught in Catholic institutions. Pius opposed modernism, which claimed that Roman Catholic dogma should be modernized and blended with nineteenth-century philosophies. He viewed modernism as an import of secular errors affecting three areas of Roman Catholic belief: theology, philosophy, and dogma.
Personally, Pius combined within himself a strong sense of compassion, benevolence and poverty, but also stubbornness and a certain stiffness. He wanted to be pastoral and was the only pope in the 20th century who gave Sunday sermons every week. After the 1908 Messina earthquake he filled the Apostolic Palace with refugees, long before the Italian government acted. He rejected any kind of favours for his family; his brother remained a postal clerk, his favourite nephew stayed on as village priest, and his three sisters lived together close to poverty in Rome. He often referred to his own humble origins, taking up the causes of poor people. I was born poor, I have lived poor, and I wish to die poor. Considered a holy person by many, public veneration of Pope Pius began soon after his death. Numerous petitions resulted in an early process of beatification.