Javascript is currently disabled. This site requires Javascript to function correctly. Please enable Javascript in your browser!

Feast of St. Pope Pius V

Articles you might be interested in

Apr. 30, 2012

Pope Pius V was born Michael Ghislieri in the year 1504 in Bosco.  At a very early age he showed great virtue and intelligence, and was accepted into the Dominican order at the young age of 14.  After his studies and ordination, Pope Pius V taught theology and philosophy.  His first appointment as bishop came in 1556 for the diocese of Nepi.  Then in 1557 he was tapped as the Inquisitor General and cardinal.  Only a few years later he was made prelate of Mondovi, where he was challenged to bring a war-torn diocese to peace and prosperity.

In 1565, Pope Pius IV died.  His chosen successor was Michael Ghislieri, who took the name Pope Pius V.  His election was secured by St. Charles Borromeo, who solicited votes vigorously in order to bring about much needed reforms in the Church.  Indeed, Pope Pius V undertook major changes during his papacy.  He cracked down on elaborate spending sprees by cardinals, bishops and priests; channeling money, instead, to the poor.  He cleaned house in Rome, scattering corrupt clergy from the ranks of the Vatican, exiling criminals from the city.  He bought and distributed food to the poor and bolstered funding for religious communities.  St. Pope Pius V also undertook promulgating St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings, having named him a doctor of the Church.  Butler writes that, “so severe were the penalties inflicted for every breach of order or morals that he was accused of wanting to turn Rome into a monastery.”  What a novel idea!

During his papacy, St. Pope Pius V faced two trying enemies—the Protestants and the Turks.  In 1570 he took the drastic step of excommunicating Queen Elizabeth I of England, and freed her subjects from allegiance.  This fueled the disastrous Spanish Armada and lead many English Catholics to be torn between their secular and eternal allegiance.  While the handling of English Protestantism may have proved a failed policy, St. Pope Pius V’s efforts against the Turks were great.  In 1571 the Turkish fleet was defeated in the Gulf of Lepanto, the Christian forces being fueled by the power of prayer from most of the Faithful in Europe, including St. Pope Pius V, himself.  Public devotions, corporate fasts and unified consideration were given to the battle as it was raging.  So intense was St. Pope Pius V’s prayers to the Virgin Mary that upon victory, he inserted the title, “Help of Christians,” into the Litany of Our Lady.

In 1572, St. Pope Pius V fell ill.  On May 1, 1572 he died at the age of 68.  He was canonized in 1712.