“O God, who deigned to choose blessed Pius to be Pontifex Maximus in order to smash the enemies of your Church to bits”

Today is the ninth day before Pentecost.  Hence, today is the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord.  Notice that today is THURSDAY.

However, in the traditional Roman calendar, used with the 1962 Missale Romanum, today is the feast of St. Pope Pius V (+1572).

I made a PODCAzT about him some years ago, and about his famous document Quo primum.

084 09-04-30 St. Pius V and Quo primum

A friend sent me a list of some of the accomplishments of St. Pius, who reigned for only a bit more than 6 years, but in tumultuous times.

1) began his pontificate by giving large alms to the poor (he did not just talked about them)
2) as Pope, continued the life of penance and virtue he had lived as a mendicant friar
3) made two meditations during the day ON BEENDED KNEES in the presence of the Bl. Sacrament
4) visited hospitals and sat by the bedside of the sick
5) washed the feet of the (non-Muslim) poor and embraced the lepers
6) always opposed Protestantism and the Turks (Islam)
7) excommunicated Elizabeth I (England)
8) instituted the Feast of the Holy Rosary
9) reformed the curia and the Church, leaving, after he died, “the memory of a rare virtue and an unfailing and inflexible integrity”

Let’s pause for a moment to drill into the collect for this saint, who I am sure doesn’t mind at all being bumped off the day by Our Lord’s feast.

Deus, qui, ad conterendos Ecclesiae tuae hostes et ad divinum cultum reparandum, beatum Pium Pontificem maximum eligere dignatus es: fac nos ipsius defendi praesidiis et ita tuis inhaerere obsequiis; ut, omnium hostium superatis insidiis, perpetua pace laetemur.

Contero is, “to grind, bruise, pound, to crumble, separate into small pieces”.  That word alone is a hint that this is a great prayer.  Obsequium, in the plural here, is a little tricky to get into English just right.  First, it has to do with God: it’s with tuis.  It has to do with how God is indulgent, toward us.  I want to say “cleave to your indulgences”, but that sounds like the use of the indulgences the Church grants from the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints.  So, we have to put it another way.

Slavishly Literal Attempt:

O God, who deigned to choose blessed Pius to be Pontifex Maximus in order to smash the enemies of your Church to bits and to renew the divine worship, cause us to be defended by his protections and to cleave with obedience to what you will in such way that, once the plots of all our enemies are overcome, we may rejoice in perpetual peace.

This is martial and bold.  This is exactly the attitude we need more of in the Church right now!

We are in a constant state of war with the world, flesh and the Devil.  And the Devil uses human agents (his catch-farts) in his deadly design.  The Church is best from within and from without, by enemies internal and external.

What do you think Pius would say today about the state of the Church?  The teachings of the Council his closed are nearly abandoned in some parts, our sacred worship is in shambles, there is heresy and indifference, the Church’s external enemies, such as Islam, are rising with little or no guidance or outcry.

Sometimes, friends, the appropriate tools is the sword, so that we can return in peace to the plow.

Note especially the point about “renewal of worship”.  I contend that nothing will change for the better in the Church until we undertake a serious revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship of God.

St. Pius V, pray for us.

And while we are at it…

Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us.
St. Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Clinton R. says:

    Oh for the days when the Successor of St. Peter strengthened the faithful and did not sow the seeds of confusion and give praise to false religions. Pray for the Holy Church, St. Pope Pius V. Pray for thy successor, Pope Francis. Pray for the restoration of the Mass of All Ages throughout the Church. +JMJ+

  2. snoozie says:

    WOW!….perhaps your best post ever. Thanks Father.

  3. Semper Gumby says:

    That is quite a list of accomplishments, St. Pius V pray for us indeed. The excellent Combat Rosary is traced back, of course, not just to WWI, but also to opposing Islam and the Battle of Lepanto.

    Fr. Z’s slavishly literal and inspiring translation of the Collect brings to mind the Dec. 1944 “Weather Prayer” written by the Chaplain of the Third Army – Msgr. James O’Neill- at the order of Gen. Patton. Unlike in the movie “Patton”, Msgr. O’Neill says he was ordered to write this prayer on Dec. 8, a week before the Battle of the Bulge actually began.

    This is the Dec. 1944 Weather Prayer:

    Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.

    Msgr. O’Neill recalled that Patton told him to have 250,000 copies printed up immediately and given to every soldier in the Third Army. Msgr. O’Neill retired from the Army as a Brigadier General and wrote an account of the Weather Prayer in 1950. There is a link to this account over at The American Catholic in a Dec. 23, 2013 article by Donald McClarey titled “Patton’s Weather Prayer.”

    Here’s the last paragraph of Msgr. O’Neill’s account:
    “It was late in January of 1945 when I saw the Army Commander [Patton] again. This was in the city of Luxembourg. He stood directly in front of me, smiled: “Well, Padre, our prayers worked. I knew they would.” Then he cracked me on the side of my steel helmet with his riding crop. That was his way of saying, “Well done.” “

  4. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Slavishly Literal Translation….when I first of this Fr. Zuhlsdorf fellow, and saw his ‘slavishly literal’ translations, I wondered, Is Zuhlsdorf a Slavic name?

  5. Sconnius says:

    Reminds me off…

    And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, ‘O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that, with it, Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits in Thy mercy.’ And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and large chu–

    Skip a bit, Brother.

    And the Lord spake, saying, ‘First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.’

  6. Semper Gumby says:

    Dr. Peters: hmm…that would explain Fr. Z’s joke on his last NYC Exile post about him needing to finish his vampire novel.

    And since I’m here: Acton Institute.

    Sconnius: That was good.

  7. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Semper Gumby,

    A good comparison! – “that […] we may […] crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice” and “ut, omnium hostium superatis insidiis” especially, and especially at present when the Augustinian “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum” (Letter 211.12) and its analogues are increasingly under attack.

  8. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thinking of ‘Quo primum’, the ‘Pian Missal’, and the Mass of All Ages, I am reminded of this rewarding resource, handily available online:


  9. Kerry says:

    Venerator, wow! Thank you for that link.
    And yes, “into tiny bits”. Heh.

  10. padredana says:

    I posted about St. Pius V on social media and was berated by some because he apparently was known to torture people when he was head of the inquisition. First, is that claim true, and second, wouldn’t someone public engaging in an intrinsic evil such as torture be disqualified from canonization? Or, is this just a case of moderns applying modern ideas to an ancient church?

  11. majuscule says:


    Sounds like another one of those internet memes.

    You know, Inquisition = torture. You might ask them for scholarly citations.

  12. Joe in Canada says:

    10. approved the Society of Jesus….

    [Ummm… Paul III, no? And I think the sender was listing positive things.   o{];¬)   ]

  13. Semper Gumby says:

    Venerator Sti Lot: Thanks for the link, and the interesting use of Latin. Except for some memorized sentences, phrases and sayings such as these are my level right now.

  14. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    I can’t answer your questions, but, If I’m not mistaken, Henk van Nierop’s Treason in the Northern Quarter: War, Terror, and the Rule of Law in the Dutch Revolt (Princeton UP, 2009) gives an interesting picture of what was widely accepted as legal (at least in some parts of Europe) in the Late Mediaeval /Early Modern period.

    Semper Gumby,

    “phrases and sayings such as these are my level right now” – me, too – if I’m lucky (I always need a dictionary and often enough a grammar book, too, and like to check translations, or work from translation into Latin original…)

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