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

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

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

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

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

Ea Semper

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

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, Pope Pius X publicly told the Russian ambassador Nelidoff:

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


  1. Schmidlin III, 125
  2. 2.0 2.1 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