Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Feast of Pope St. Pius V, O.P.
is today. There is information on him here.

I am far from denying that St. Pius was stern and severe, as far as a heart burning within, and melting with the fulness of divine love, could be so; and this was the reason that the Conclave was so slow in electing him. Yet such energy and vigour as his was necessary for his times. He was emphatically a soldier of Christ, in a time of insurrection and rebellion, when, in a spiritual sense, martial law was proclaimed. St. Philip, a private priest, might follow his bent in casting his net for souls, as he expressed himself, and enticing them to the truth; but the Vicar of Christ had to right and to steer the vessel when it was in rough waters, and among breakers. A Protestant historian on this point does justice to him. "When Pope," he says, "he lived in all the austerity of his monastic life, fasted with the utmost rigour and punctuality, would wear no finer garments than before, … arose at an extremely early hour in the morning, and took no siesta. If we doubted the depth of his religious earnestness, we may find a proof of it in his declaration, that the Papacy was unfavourable to his advance in piety; that it did not contribute to his salvation, and to his attainment of Paradise; and that, but for prayer, the burden had been too heavy for him. The happiness of a fervent devotion, which often moved him to tears, was granted him to the end of his life. The people were excited to enthusiasm when they saw him walking in procession, barefooted and bareheaded, with the expression of unaffected piety in his countenance, and with his long snow-white beard falling on his breast. They thought there had never been so pious a Pope. They told each other how his very look had converted heretics. Pius was kind, too, and affable; his intercourse with his old servants was of the most confidential kind. At a former period, before he was Pope, the Count della Trinità had threatened to have him thrown into a well, and he had replied, that it must be as God pleased. How beautiful was his greeting to this same Count, who was now sent as ambassador to his court! 'See,' said he, when he recognized him, 'how God preserves the innocent.' This was the only way in which he made him feel that he recollected his enmity. He had ever been most charitable and bounteous; he kept a list of the poor of Rome, whom he regularly assisted according to their station and their wants." The writer, after proceeding to condemn what he considers his severity, ends thus: "It is certain that his deportment and mode of thinking exercised an incalculable influence on his contemporaries, and on the general development of the Church of which he was the head. After so many circumstances had concurred to excite and foster a religious spirit, after so many resolutions and measures had been taken to exalt it to universal dominion, a Pope like this was needed, not only to proclaim it to the world, but also to reduce it to practice. His zeal and his example combined produced the most powerful effect."

Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., Historical Sketches, Volume I

It is also the feast of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, Priest and Founder, Blessed Marie Guyart of the Incarnation, S.U., Widow, and Blessed William Southerne, Priest and Martyr.


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