Pius V

Pius V (1504-1572) was pope from 1566 to 1572. An austere man, he put the decrees of the Council of Trent into effect and thus occupies a central position in the Catholic Reformation.

Antonio Ghislieri, who became Pius V, was born on Jan. 17, 1504, at Bosco Marengo near Alessandria in northern Italy. He was from a poor family. At 14 years of age Ghislieri entered the Order of Preachers and took the name Michele. He received his higher education as a friar at Bologna. In 1528 he was ordained at Genoa.

For more than 20 years Ghislieri gained a wide breadth of experience as professor of theology, superior in his order, and member of the Inquisition in Pavia, Como, and Bergamo. His dedication to the work of the Inquisition brought him to the attention of officials in Rome, including Giampietro Carafa, the future Pope Paul IV. In 1551 Pope Julius III appointed Ghislieri commissary general of the Roman Inquisition. Under Paul IV, Ghislieri was given greater responsibilities: in 1556 the bishopric of Sutri and Nepi, in 1557 the cardinalate, and in 1558 the post of grand inquisitor of the Roman Church. Pope Pius IV assigned him to the see of Mondovi in 1560. On Jan. 7, 1566, Ghislieri was elected pope and took the name Pius V.

Pius V had a twofold preoccupation: the preservation of the purity of the faith and the advancement of Church reform. He used the Inquisition, although more moderately than Paul IV; severely punished bishops who remained absent from their sees; examined the spiritual tenor of religious orders; implemented the decrees of the Council of Trent; and simplified to the point of austerity the style of life of the papal household. In 1566 Pius V issued the Roman Catechism.

Pius V influenced the liturgical life of the Church in a monumental way. In 1568 he issued the Breviarium Romanum and in 1570 the Missale Romanum, thereby removing the multiplicity of forms in the breviary and in the Mass and creating, with minor exceptions, a liturgical uniformity throughout the Church. In 1567 he made the greatest theologian of his order, St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church.

In his foreign policies Pius V experienced both failure and success. Misjudging the situation in England, he seriously blundered in 1570, when he announced that English Catholics no longer owed allegiance to Queen Elizabeth. His action worsened the situation of England's persecuted Catholics. Against the Turks he was successful. He built up the Holy League and on Oct. 7, 1571, a fleet of Spanish, Venetian, and papal ships defeated the Turkish fleet at Lepanto in the Gulf of Corinth. Pius V died on May 1, 1572. He was canonized in 1712 by the Church.

Further Reading on Pius V

The best modern comprehensive study of Pius V, though recent research calls for some modifications, is in Ludwig Pastor, History of the Popes, from the Close of the Middle Ages, vols. 17 and 18, translated by Ralph F. Kerr (1929), with a full bibliography and list of sources. For background consult John P. Dolan, Catholicism: An Historical Survey (1968), and Karl H. Dannenfeldt, The Church of the Renaissance and Reformation (1970).

Additional Biography Sources

Anderson, Robin, St. Pius V, a brief account of his life, times, virtues & miracles, Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books and Publishers, 1978.

    Post a comment