Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Feast of Pope St Pius V

Pope St Pius V is principally known amongst traddies today for his role in standardizing the liturgy, and promulgating the 1570 missal (a decision perhaps necessary for the times, but which suppressed many diverse and interesting liturgical traditions that had flourished in the medieval era). 

But in fact he should probably really be remembered for his role in the Battle of Lepanto (organising the Holy League against the Turks), the Council of Trent and counter-reformation, and particularly his efforts to reform the clergy.  A Dominican, he played a major role in the reform of several religious orders at the time.  As  a Cardinal in the Holy Office, he prosecuted eight French Bishops for heresy.

Not all of his decisions though perhaps stand the test of time: his excommunication of Elizabeth I and (declaration purporting to) free her subjects from allegiance to her seems to have resulted from pressure from Spain and his support of Mary Queen of Scots' cause.  The decision certainly unleashed an unprecedented round of persecution against Catholics in England.

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