Friday, April 30, 2010

St. Pius V, "Pope of the Rosary"


Michael Ghislieri was born near Alessandria in Italy in 1504. He was a poor shepherd boy, who entered the Dominican Order at the age of 14 and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. He taught theology and philosophy for sixteen years and developed a reputation as a gifted teacher and preacher.

Michael led an austere and holy life in the monastery: he fasted, performed penance, spent long hours of the night in meditation and prayer, and traveled in silence on foot without a cloak.

After being ordained a bishop and named a Cardinal, he became pope at the age of 62, taking the name of Pope Pius V. His holiness and austerity continued in the papacy. He refused to wear the ornate and flowing garments of previous popes, but insisted upon wearing his white Dominican habit even as head of the Church. To this day, the pope wears white, a custom begun by this Dominican pontiff.

His reign, though short, was one of the most fruitful of the sixteenth century. During his six year pontificate, Pius ordered the establishment of seminaries for the training of priests, published a new missal (which remained in use for 400 years), and set up Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes for the young. He also attempted to uphold the Church's political authority against various European nations. Queen Elizabeth's interference with Church affairs in England led to her excommunication; the pope also struggled against the ambitions of the Holy Roman Emperor and King Philip II of Spain.

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 communion.

Meanwhile, he called on all of Europe to recite the Rosary and ordered a 40 hour devotion in Rome during which time the battle took place. The Christian fleet, vastly outnumbered by the Turks, inflicted an impossible defeat on the Turkish navy, demolishing the entire fleet.

In memory of the triumph he declared the day the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary because of her intercession in answering the mass recitation of the Rosary and obtaining the victory. He has also been called ‘the Pope of the Rosary’ for this reason.

Pope Pius V died seven months later on May 1, 1572. He is enshrined at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, and was beatified by Clement X in 1672, and canonized by Clement XI in 1712.

1 comment:

Unstoppable Spirit said...

Today is the feast day of St. Catherine de Sienna. I love your blog. I am devoted to Mother Mary. I totally consecrate my life to Her. That is why I love praying the rosary by myself and with my family everyday.