5 May: “O God, who deigned to choose blessed Pius to be Pontifex Maximus in order to smash the enemies of Thy Church to tiny bits” – UPDATED

In the traditional Roman calendar, used with the 1962 Missale Romanum, the Vetus Ordo, 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

Here is a list of some of the accomplishments of St. Pius, who reigned for only a bit more than 6 years, and in tumultuous times.

1) began his pontificate by giving large alms to the poor (he did not just talk 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 BENDED 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
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”
10) Closed the Council of Trent
11) Issued the Missale Romanum
12) Arranged the Holy League that fought at Lepanto
13) Instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory
14) Declared St. Thomas Aquinas Doctor of the Church
15) Reformed the Roman clergy
16) Reconstructed the Roman water supply
17) Condemned the teachings of Michael Baius
18) Reformed the Roman Breviary
19) Issued the Roman Catechism
20) Tried 8 French Bishops for heresy

St. John Henry Newman wrote:

“St. Pius V was stern and severe, as far as a heart burning and melted with divine love could be so … Yet such energy and vigour as his were necessary for the times. He was a soldier of Christ in a time of insurrection and rebellion, when in a spiritual sense, martial law was proclaimed.”

Let’s drill into the Collect for this saint:

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 he closed, Trent, are nearly abandoned in some parts, our sacred worship is in shambles, there is heresy and indifference, the Church’s external enemies, such as Communists and homosexualists, are rising with little or no guidance or outcry.

Sometimes, friends, we have to have the fight.  Then we can have the peace.

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.   Alas, those in charge seem particularly set against that.  Revealing.

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.
St. Peter Damian, pray for us.


From the great Fr. Hunwicke:

S Pius V and the liars

Today, his Feast Day, is the 450th anniversary of the Heavenly Birthday of Papa Ghislieri, Saint Pius V, Bishop of Rome.

Two BIG UNTRUTHS in particular are told about him, poor fellow.

Lie Number 1: he issued a radically revised version of the Roman Missal, just as S Paul VI was to do after Vatican II.

Fact: S Pius’s edition of the Missal was so light a revision that it was still possible, after its promulgation, to continue to use your old Missal.

Lie Number 2: although permitting some exceptions, S Pius ordered his edition to be used by everybody.

Fact: he ORDERED all rites older than 200 years to be kept in use. (He only permitted churches with 200-year-old-or-more rites to change over to his own new edition if the Diocesan Bishop and the unanimous chapter agreed).

I hope that is clear enough. But … so many people … Popes … Cardinals … Bishops  … have such trouble with all this … so … here’s another simple way of explaining the difference between S Pius V and Pope Francis:

(a) Pope Pius V ORDERED Rites older than 200 years to be RETAINED;

(b) Pope Francis is TRYING TO EXTERMINATE a Rite which is centuries more than 500 years old.

If people you are talking to really are so thick that they can’t understand the difference when you’ve tried both these ways of explaining things, give up.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. arga says:

    Given the dictionary definition of “contero” it seems odd that neither my Latin-English 1962 missal nor my Latin-Spanish 1962 missal (both by Angelus Press) even remotely approaches the meaning of contero. My English gives it as “overthrow of the enemies of Thy Church” and my Spanish missal says “repeler a los enemigos de tu Iglesia.” So maybe the oft-noted “softening” of the liturgical Latin that is a hallmark of VCII liturgies was already a practice well before VCII. What do you think?

  2. Ipsitilla says:

    The title of your post immediately brought to mind the blessing for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

    “O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.”

  3. Danteewoo says:

    “Tried 8 French bishops for heresy.” I like this pope even more.

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