SAINT PIUS V (1504-1572), pope – Patron saint of Bosco Marengo in Italy
Today, the Church honors Saint Pius V, who was the bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ from 1566-1572. Pope Pius V was one of the foremost leaders during the period of Catholic reformation, for this was the pope whose job it was to implement the reforms brought about by the Council of Trent.
Born Michele (Antonio) Ghislieri in Bosco Marengo, Italy on January 17, 1504, to a poor though noble family, he labored as a shepherd until the age of fourteen and then joined the Dominicans, being ordained to the priesthood in 1528.
He taught theology and philosophy for the next sixteen years before holding the posts of Master of Novices and Prior for several Dominican houses. He was known for his austere penances and his long hours of prayer and fasting.
On September 4, 1556, he was consecrated bishop of the diocese of Nepi-e-Sutri in central Italy. Bishop Ghislieri worked to lead his flock through words and examples, and served as teacher of Divine Truth encouraging personal piety and devotion to God. In 1566, he was elected as the 226th pontiff and successor to Peter, and took the name of Pius V.
As pope, he was responsible for implementing the sweeping reforms called for by the Council of Trent. He ordered the founding of seminaries for the proper training of priests. He published a new missal, a new breviary, a new catechism and established the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes for the young.
In addition, Pope Pius zealously enforced legislation against abuses within the Church. He patiently served the sick and the poor by building hospitals, providing food for the hungry and giving money customarily used for the papal banquets to poor Roman converts. And his decision to keep wearing his Dominican habit led to the custom of the pope wearing a white cassock, even to this day.
His six year pontificate saw him constantly at war with two massive enemy forces: those leaving the Church due to the Protestant Reformation and the spread of their doctrines in the West, and the Turkish armies which were advancing from the East. He encouraged efforts to battle Protestantism by education and preaching. He gave strong support to the newly formed Society of Jesus, founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and supported Catholics who were oppressed and intimidated by Protestant princes, especially in Germany.
Pope Pius V also worked hard to unite the Christian armies against the invading Turks, and perhaps the most famous success of his papacy was the miraculous victory of the Christian fleet in the battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The island of Malta was attacked by the Turkish fleet, and nearly every man defending the fortress was killed in battle.
The Pope sent out a fleet to meet the enemy, requesting that each man on board pray the Rosary and receive Holy Communion. Meanwhile, he called on all of Europe to recite the Rosary and ordered a forty-hour devotion in Rome during which time the battle was taking place. History records that the Christian fleet inflicted an impossible defeat on the Turkish navy, demolishing virtually all of the Turkish fleet and liberating some 10,000 Christian galley slaves.
In memory of the triumph, Pius V declared the day as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, due to her intercession in answering the mass recitation of the prayers of the Rosary and obtaining the victory through her intercession to her Divine Son. For this reason, he was also referred to as “the Pope of the Rosary”.
Pope Pius V died seven months later on May 1, 1572 of a painful disease, repeating “O Lord, increase my sufferings and my patience!” His remains are enshrined in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, and he was beatified by Pope Clement X in 1672. Pius V was canonized a saint by Pope Clement XI in 1712.
We commemorate his feastday on April 30.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholic.org/saints and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ pope)
“All-powerful and Ever-living God, You called Saint Pius V to guide Your people by his word and example. With him, we pray to You: watch over the pastors of Your Church with the people entrusted to their care, and lead them to salvation.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”