Please note: St. Anthony Catholic Church is the only local church celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass (EFLR) in the Wichita area. Though this blog is loosely centered around this parish and it's members, Venite Missa Est! is by no means, in any way an official voice of, or for, St. Anthony Parish or the Diocese of Wichita. Venite Missa Est is strictly a private layman's endeavor.
In 1556, when Michael Ghislieri (1504 – 1572) became Pope Pius V, the outlook everywhere was grim. The Moslems’ navy controlled the Mediterranean and their armies were ravishing the Mid-East, slaughtering thousands of Christians, taking thousands of prisoners (men for slavery, women for harems or prostitution). Protestantism was ripping Western Europe asunder. And internal abuses had long been damaging the Church: Absentee bishops abounded; poorly-formed priests were the rule; the liturgy was in disarray; and the laity was largely ignorant of the Faith.
Granted, the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) had proposed sweeping reforms, but their implementation had only begun. So, completing them fell to the new 62-year old Pontiff.
And complete them he did!
Clergy and Hierarchy
Per the Council of Trent, he ordered absentee bishops to return to their dioceses and become shepherds for their flocks. Those who refused, he replaced. In all, during his six-year reign, he consecrated 314 new bishops, only a few as replacements for recalcitrants. He selected new bishops judiciously, thereby improving the hierarchy’s overall spirituality.
Also per the Council, he initiated the establishment diocesan seminaries to form new priests properly. Thus began the seminary system we so take for granted today.
The Catechism the Council had ordered for teaching the Faith to the laity had been started, but not completed. Pius assigned this project to Cardinal (St.) Charles Borromeo, who completed it during the Pope’s first year in office.
Interestingly, this Catechism of the Council of Trent is addressed not to the laity, for whose instruction it was created, but to parish priests, who were to do the instructing. Was this a subtle hint from St. Pius V and St. Charles to priests that they should study this book to upgrade their own formation? Hmm.
Since Pope St. Gregory I (the Great) had issued the Missale Romanum, the liturgy of Mass had suffered dissimilar and unauthorized “revisions” in many dioceses. Similarly, since Pope St. Gregory VII had revised the Breviarium Romanum (Divine Office), it too had suffered many such “freelance” revisions. The Council of Trent had directed that these two liturgical books be restored to their original Church-approved forms.
Pius V promulgated the restored Breviarium Romanum in 1568. He promulgated the restored Missale Romanum 1570. By his Papal Bull, Quo Primum, he mandated that the all priests in the Latin Rite (with certain exceptions) were to use this restored missal. The exceptions were those using other missals that had initially had Church approval and had been in continuous use for at least 200 years. Thus, for example, the Milan Diocese continued using the Ambrosian Rite until 1970. (See Note on Quo Primum below.)
Pius V sent many missionaries into Protestant lands and they did have great success in some areas, especially Southern Germany and Poland.
To inform English Catholics that Elizabeth I and her “church” were in heresy, he excommunicated her. This decision has been widely questioned and criticized ever since, but always on political/diplomatic grounds, never on doctrinal grounds.
St. Pius V, originally a Dominican monk, wore his white Dominican habit throughout his life, even after becoming Pope. Because of his immediate successors’ great respect for him and his accomplishments as Pope, they also wore white. Thus “papal white” became a tradition all subsequent popes have honored.
With the Ottoman Turk navy dominating the Mediterranean and harassing Catholic ports at will, Pius patched together a far-less-than-adequate fleet, and put Don Juan of Austria in command. The flag ship’s banner was a replica of the St. Juan Diego’s tilma with its picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This replica that had actually been touched to the original. Every sailor was given a rosary, and they recited the rosary in common every day. Pius V fasted for several days and prayed the rosary several times a day. He also requested that the faithful everywhere recite the rosary daily for the success of this naval expedition.
On October 7, 1571. Pius’ fleet (out-numbered by 80 ships!) routed the Turkish navy at Lepanto, destroying most of their vessels and freeing many Catholic galley slaves. The Turkish navy never recovered from that disaster, so the Mediterranean was thereafter free of Moslem domination.
At the precise moment of that victory, far away in Rome, Pius had a vision of it. He announced victory to his staff and had all the church bells in Rome rung for hours. (And, Folks, that’s a lot of bells!) H attributed this triumph, rightly, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to commemorate it, he established the “Feast of Our Lady of Victory” for October 7. Gregory XIII later changed the title to the “Feast of the Most Holy Rosary” and moved it to the first Sunday of October. Clement III still later extended it to the universal Church.
Privately, Pius V always lived the austere life of a Dominican Monk, even when he was Pope. He prayed constantly, fasted often, and meditated every day. He abstained from meat for the last fifty years of his life. In spite of this austerity, or perhaps because of it, he was unusually effective in his short but very active reign on the Chair of St. Peter.
Like all saints, he gladly embraced all the suffering our Lord offered him throughout his life on earth. On his death-bed, after a long and excruciating illness, Pius he was heard to whisper, “Lord, increase my suffering, but if it is Your will, please also increase my patience.”
Note on Quo Primum
Over the years, I’ve heard many claim that Pius V’s Bull, Quo Primum, was an infallible statement mandating that all priests in the Latin Rite use the restored Missale Romanum (now known as the “Extraordinary Form”) forever. However much I may wish that this were true, it’s not even possible for a liturgical mandate to be infallible. According to the Vatican Council I, these are the requirements for an infallible papal statement:
1.) The pope must speak ex cathedra, that is, as the Supreme Pontiff of the entire Church.
2.) He must speak to the entire Church.
3.) He must speak on a matter of faith and morals.
Quo Primum fails on at least two of those three requirements. Although Pius V was speaking as pope, he was not addressing the entire Church, but only the Latin Rite. Furthermore, he was speaking about liturgy, not faith and morals. In other words, he was speaking, not as supreme teacher, but as supreme governor of the Church. Of course, his governance ended with his death.
One out of three jest ain’t good enough! Yeah, hey, I’m sorry too, but we have to stick to the truth even when it doesn’t coincide with our hopes and wishes.
Source Books for this article:
St. Pius V, by Robin Anderson;
Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know, by Diane Moczar
Islam at the Gates, by Diane Moczar.