Saint Pope Pius V died May 1, 1572. Two years before this on July 14th 1570 to implement the Council of Trent’s decision, he promulgate a codified Roman Missal by the Apostolic Constitution “Quo Primum”. This is the Missal used in the Tridentine Mass that was revised slightly by Pope John XXIII called the Roman Missal of 1962.
St. Pope Pius V in his six years as pope did so much. But he also payed highly to achieve what he did. He lived his dominican spirituality by his austere and solid piety. He fasted, did penance, prayed before the Most Holy Sacrament, and kept silence except for to talk about the marvels of God. He wore the white dominican habit and that is why Popes Francis and Benedict still wear a white cassock. He claimed that “God called him to serve the church, not the church to serve him”. He totally loved Mary and the Rosary.
St. Pope Pius V was elected pope in 1566 at the age of 62. Immediately he worked on making Rome a holy and safe city. But he also worked on its beauty and the health of the people. He repaired sacred buildings, aqueducts, walls and fortifications. He took steps to stop further pollution of the Tiber River and brought clean water from the Salone and Trevi fountains.
He opened workshops and factories to provide employment. He set up free schools. He instructed the beggars in catholic morals. Agricultural workers were protected by laws. No games were allowed on Sunday and feast days. Newspapers that ran scandals were censured. Men and women of ill repute were to convert or be banished from Rome. Pius women ministered to these people to help them change their life styles.
While living a very poor lifestyle, he spent much of the Vatican’s money on the poor. He was often seen tending the poor and sick and when a plague broke out, he did everything in his power to take care of them with food, medicine, clothing and money. The jail system was reformed and he did not allow anyone to be imprisoned for debts. He ransomed slaves from the muslims and took care of them with his own money.
In all the papal states, God’s laws were enforced by imprisonment and capital punishment. The death penalty was given for adultery and burning for sodomy. A well known banker was publicly flogged. The Roman citizens love the pope because of the order and beauty he had returned to Rome. The building of the new St. Peter’s Basilica continued under his guidance including the dome that had already been designed by Michaelangelo. Outside of Rome he had churches built such as the church of Santa Maria de Angeli in Assisi where St. Francis died. He banished the Jews from the Papal States but gave them a place to live in Rome. This was done because of their charging usury and dealing in drugs and witchcraft. But he would not let anyone insult them or they would be punished.
This pope was involved in every aspect of human existence. But above all how he lived his life of prayer. In the procession of Corpus Christi, he would not be carried in deference to Jesus present. It was a crime to speak in church for respect for the Blessed Sacrament present. How would that go over today when people talk and clap and text message.
As any holy person, he had many good loyal friends and some dangerous enemies. One time he approached the crucifix in his room to kiss the feet of Jesus when Jesus withdrew his feet. He was horrified and wondered what he had done to offend his Lord. He actually screamed when it happened. So at this point someone came in and took some bread and wiped the feet of the crucifix with bread. They gave it to an animal which died because it was poison put on the crucifix. Jesus saved Pope Pius V’s life. His feastday is May 5th.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.