Pope Pius X and Russia

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The relations between Pope Pius X and Russia were difficult, and the situation of Polish Catholics in Russia did not improve.

Religious freedom decrees in 1903 and 1905[edit]

Tsar Nicolas issued a decree on 22 February 1903, promising religious freedom for the Catholic Church, and, in 1905, promulgated a constitution, which included religious freedom.[1]

Accords undermined by Church rivals[edit]

The Russian Orthodox Church nevertheless felt threatened and insisted on stiff interpretations. Papal decrees were not permitted and contacts with the Vatican remained outlawed.

Opposition to the Mariavites sect[edit]

A religious movement supported and financed by Russia, the Mariavites, began to gain ground among the Polish faithful, although the Pope had condemned it in 1907.[2] In his encyclical Tribus circiter Pope Pius wrote to the episcopate, warning against national radicals and asking for peace and order.[3]

1907 agreement[edit]

In 1907, he signed an agreement that prescribed mandatory Russian history and literature courses in Catholic seminaries in Polish Russia in exchange for greater rights for the faithful.[2]

Ea Semper[edit]

The publication of the Apostolic Letter Ea Semper, which dealt with the Eastern Rite Catholics in the United States, led to a number of defections to the Russian Orthodox Church in America.

Feeling of betrayal from Russia[edit]

Afterwards, he felt betrayed by the Russians, who did not ease the conditions of Polish faithful. At his last public reception of the Diplomatic Corps, Pius X publicly told the Russian ambassador, Aleksandr Nelidov:

We will not accept greetings or congratulations from Russia, which did not keep a single promise to us and or to the Catholics in Russia.

As the surprised ambassador disagreed, the Pope rose from his throne and asked the ambassador to leave the room.[4][5]


  1. ^ Schmidlin III, 125
  2. ^ a b Schmidlin II, 126
  3. ^ Acta Pii II, 1905.
  4. ^ Schmidlin III 127
  5. ^ Diethelm, O.S.B., Walter (1956). Saint Pius X: The Farm Boy Who Became Pope. Vision Books. pp. 136–137. LCCN 56-5990. OCLC 1672245. 


  • Acta Apostolicae Sedis ( AAS), Roma, Vaticano 1922-1960
  • L. Boudou, Le S. Siege et la Russie, Paris, 1890 [1]
  • Owen Chadwick, The Christian Church in the Cold War, London 1993 [2]
  • Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte (de), VII, Herder Freiburg, 1979, 355-380