Tan books publishes a small book on this great saint, “St. Pius V” by Prof. Robin Anderson. The introduction is by Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani. In it he writes, “St Pius V was a great saint, glorious defender of Christian standards, valiant guardian of the treasures of truth, justice and sanctity which the Church was born to spread throughout the world.”
He goes on to say, “Mohammedanism threatened a devastating storm, but Providence raised up the man who might be the worthy and fitting instrument to subdue it. (The Battle of) Lepanto gave Christendom no mere passing victory of restricted range and importance; it was the mainspring of the recovery that freed the Christian world from a disastrous reverse and enabled the Church to carry on her evangelizing mission with security.”
Pope Pius V was born on January 17, 1504 in Piedmont Italy. His real name was Michael Ghislieri. From his childhood he had a special devotion to the Mother of God who helped him in his vocation to become a priest. He was poor and could not afford to go to the seminary and instead was a shepherd of sheep.
By chance, in the fields he met some Dominicans who were impressed with his piety and intelligence who helped him study latin and become a Dominican. At 20 years of age he became the professor of philosophy and was ordained a priest at 24 years of age.
At this time the Lutheran heresy was spreading from Switzerland to northern Italy. Fray Michael was then made head of the Inquisition in that part of Europe. Most of us have been told that the inquisition was evil, but we need to re-study it. In the study of St. Pope Pius V we will see that the Inquisition was a good and necessary part of the Church. The Church and state worked together and treated heresy as a crime worst than murder for attacking the life of the soul.
Many people, including a bishop and important people opposed his fight against Lutherism saying he was too severe. His answer was, “Nothing can be to severe for those who attempt to hinder the ministers of religion in their rightful duties by means of civil power.” Several times he had to escape to Rome to be protected.
He was very kind to the heretics and tried his best to win them over and often had success. He would also offer masses for them as he did when he converted a young brilliant Franciscan preacher Sixtus of Sienna who later became a great scripture scholar and Dominican. For all this success he was make General Inquisitor of all Christendom.
Never the less, he was always attacked inside the church and would by the grace of God survive by someone coming to his aide. He too wanted to leave Rome when everyone was turning against him, but providence had other plans. When Pope Pius IV died, his nephew St. Charles Borromeo convinced the conclave to elected St. Pope Pius V in 1566.
I will continue to go over his life on my blog. We need to learn from this saint, how he was mistreated by the church and others, yet went on to be pope and to defeat the muslims.