Vatican newspaper publishes details of conclave that elected St. Pius X
June 11, 2014
L’Osservatore Romano has printed a previously unpublished note in which Cardinal Jan Puzyna recorded the events of the five-day conclave of 1903. Cardinal Puzyna, the bishop of Kraków, had been created a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII only one year earlier.
2014 marks the centenary of the death of St. Pius X, who was elected in 1903. On June 9, Father Bernard Ardura, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, said that the note had recently been discovered in the archives of the Archdiocese of Kraków.
According to the note, the first ballot resulted in 27 votes for Cardinal Mariano Rampolla, then Secretary of State; 17 votes for Cardinal Girolamo Maria Gotti, the Discalced Carmelite who served as Prefect of the Congregation for Propagation of the Faith; and 7 votes for Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto, the Patriarch of Venice.
The second ballot resulted in 29 votes for Cardinal Rampolla, 16 votes for Cardinal Gotti, and 10 votes for Cardinal Sarto. Cardinal Puzyna recounted that he spoke with Cardinal Luigi Oreglia, the 85-year-old dean of the College of Cardinals and a supporter of Cardinal Gotti, about the “inappropriateness of the candidacy of Rampolla.”
“Many cardinals [are] vile creatures of Rampolla, by his appointment-- dreadful personages,” Cardinal Puzyna wrote.
Cardinal Puzyna presented the Austro-Hungarian imperial government’s veto of the Rampolla candidacy to Cardinal Oreglia, who refused to accept it. Cardinal Puzyna then presented the letter of protest to Cardinal Rampolla himself. The next ballot resulted in 29 votes for Cardinal Rampolla, 9 votes for Cardinal Gotti, and 21 votes for Cardinal Sarto.
Cardinal Puzyna announced the imperial government’s veto to all the cardinals. According to the note, he spoke with other cardinals about the need to elect a pious, great-hearted Pope who understood the work of a diocesan bishop. Cardinal Adolphe Perraud, the Oratorian bishop of Autun, France, spoke out against the veto.
The result of the next ballot was 30 votes for Cardinal Rampolla, 29 votes for Cardinal Sarto, 6 votes for Cardinal Gotti, and 2 votes for Cardinal Oreglia.
Cardinal Rampolla spoke out against the veto but did not mention that Cardinal Puzyna first spoke with him privately, leading Cardinal Puzyna to write that Cardinal Rampolla was a “little man.” Several cardinals then attempted to gain additional support for Cardinal Rampolla.
The next ballot resulted in 29 votes for Cardinal Rampolla and 27 votes for Cardinal Sarto.
Following the ballot, Cardinal Sarto told the cardinals that he would not accept election.
The next ballot, however, resulted in 35 votes for Cardinal Sarto, 16 votes for Cardinal Rampolla, and 7 votes for Cardinal Gotti. Cardinal Francesco Satolli, the Prefect of the Congregation for Studies, told the cardinals that Cardinal Sarto would accept election.
The final ballot, according to the note, resulted in 50 votes for Cardinal Sarto, 10 votes for Cardinal Rampolla, and 2 votes for Cardinal Gotti. Cardinal Sarto accepted the election and took the name Pius X.
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- L’appunto inedito di Jan Puzyna (L’Osservatore Romano, p. 5)
- Vatican newspaper recalls Cardinal Rampolla, vetoed in 1903 conclave (CWN, 12/16/13)
- Conferenza Stampa di presentazione della Giornata di Studi promossa dal Pontificio Comitato di Scienze Storiche in occasione del Centenario della morte di San Pio X (Holy See Press Office)