Pope Pius V

Orfeas Katsoulis | Nov 11, 2023

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Pope Pius V, born Anthony (in religion Michael) Ghislieri (Bosco Marengo, Jan. 17, 1504 - Rome, May 1, 1572), was the 225th bishop of Rome and pope of the Catholic Church, ruler of the Papal States, in addition to the other titles proper to the Roman pontiff, from Jan. 7, 1566 until his death. A Dominican theologian and inquisitor, he worked for the reform of the Church according to the dictates of the Council of Trent. With St. Charles Borromeo and St. Ignatius of Loyola, he is considered among the main architects and promoters of the Counter-Reformation. During his pontificate the new Roman Missal, Breviary and Catechism were published, revisions of the Vulgate and Corpus Iuris Canonici were undertaken.

Intransigent as much in the government of the Papal States as in foreign policy, he based his actions on defending Catholicism from heresy and expanding the Church's jurisdictional rights; in an attempt to favor the accession of the Catholic Mary Stuart to the English throne, he excommunicated Elizabeth I of England.

He is linked to the establishment of the Holy League and the victorious Battle of Lepanto (1571). He was beatified in 1672 by Pope Clement X and canonized on May 22, 1712 by Pope Clement XI.

Family and education

Antonio Ghislieri was born in Bosco (then a village belonging to the diocese of Tortona and the duchy of Milan) to Paolo and Dominina Augeri. His father, a sheep herder, was poor, and young Antonio's access to studies was allowed thanks to the financial support of a benefactor who was his neighbor, a certain Bastone. Genealogical writings that flourished after his election to the papal throne, while not denying Ghislieri's poor birth condition, attempted to ennoble his origins by linking his family to the powerful Bolognese lineage of the same name, whose exile in the mid-15th century would have explained the presence of its members in far-off Bosco and their decline; this genealogy, however, was never substantiated on a documentary basis. On the other hand, the presence of the Ghislieri family in the Bosco area since the 14th century, well before 1445, therefore, the date of the exile of the hypothetical ancestor Lippo di Tommaso Ghislieri from Bologna, is proven; Girolamo Catena himself, author of his first biography, with a decidedly celebratory imprint, questioned the Bolognese origins of the Ghislieri di Bosco for the same reason. Pius V, perhaps believing firsthand this Bolognese ancestry, contributed by his behavior to confirm it, adopting as his coat of arms the ancient weapon of the Ghislieri of Bologna and, as pope, favoring the ecclesiastical career of his supposed relative Giovanni Pietro Alessandri, related by maternal means to the Consiglieri, a branch really descended from the Ghislieri of Bologna who had changed their name. At Pius V's behest, the Alessandri, who had already taken his mother's surname, changed his own surname to Ghislieri: in this way, the pope also officially "related" himself to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Consiglieri, Alessandri's maternal uncle.

After his early studies in his native town, Anthony entered the Dominican convent of Voghera at the age of fourteen, taking the name Michael. He later completed his novitiate at the convent in Vigevano, where he made his solemn vows in 1519 and completed his humanistic and theological education at the convent's studium. Noted by his superiors for his extraordinary vivacity of intellect and austerity of life, he was sent to the theological studium of the University of Bologna, where he received a solid preparation of a rigidly Thomist stamp. Having completed his studies in philosophy and theology in Bologna, he taught as "reader major" in the Casale convent of San Domenico, in whose Renaissance church is preserved a portrait of him painted in the 18th century by the Turin painter Maria Clementi, known as la Clementina, and a large canvas of the Battle of Lepanto painted in 1626 by the Turin painter Giovanni Crosio. In 1528 he was ordained a priest in Genoa by Cardinal Innocent Cybo.

Teaching years and assignments in the Order.

The first years of Friar Michael's ministry were devoted to teaching theology, in which he was a reader in the Dominican convents of Pavia, Alba and Vigevano. From 1528 to 1544 he also taught Philosophy at the University of Pavia and was briefly professor of Theology at the University of Bologna.

His teaching activities were accompanied during the 1930s by various government positions in the Dominican Order: in Vigevano he was procurator and prior of the convent, then he was prior in Soncino, Alba, and finally again in Vigevano. During these years he often traveled outside the convents to exercise pastoral ministry, preaching and adjudicating disputes in some provincial chapters. In July 1539 he was temporarily sent to oversee the rebuilding of the Dominican convent on the island of Sant'Erasmo in Venice. In 1542 he was chosen to serve as definitor in the general chapter of the province "Utriusque Lombardia" held in Rome. From the same assembly he was elected provincial superior for Lombardy, a position he held for a few months until he entered the Holy Inquisition.

Church career

On October 11, 1542, he was appointed inquisitorial commissioner and vicar for the diocese of Pavia, thus receiving his first assignment in the activity to which he would devote all his energy until his death. The following year, in Parma, he came to prominence by delivering the public conclusions of the provincial chapter, consisting of thirty-six theses against the Lutheran heresy.

By virtue of his exemplary conduct of life, he was appointed inquisitor in Como (1550) and then, at the behest of Pope Julius III, was given the same title in Bergamo, where he was charged with conducting an inquiry into Bishop Vittore Soranzo, suspected of heresy. On December 5, 1550, Ghislieri's residence was stormed, and the inquisitor was forced to flee to Rome, where he arrived on December 24, managing to deliver to Cardinal Gian Pietro Carafa the dossier concerning Soranzo. It was thanks to Cardinal Carafa's intercession that Ghislieri was appointed commissioner general of the Roman Inquisition on June 3, 1551, immediately taking charge of the trials against Cardinals Reginald Pole, Giovanni Morone and the Florentine humanist Pietro Carnesecchi.

The election as pontiff of his protector Cardinal Gian Pietro Carafa at the Conclave of May 1555 marked a turning point in Ghislieri's cursus honorum. Paul IV appointed him president of the commission charged with drawing up the Index of Forbidden Books and on September 4, 1556, named him bishop of Sutri and Nepi and inquisitor general in Milan and Lombardy. Friar Michael received episcopal ordination on September 14 from Cardinal Giovanni Michele Saraceni, and the following year he was created cardinal with the title of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, a Dominican church specially elevated to cardinal.

On December 14, 1558, in consistory, Paul IV appointed Cardinal Ghislieri "Grand Inquisitor of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition" with unlimited faculties and ad vitam. The following year, when the pontiff died, Ghislieri participated in his first conclave, joining the party close to the Carafas. After supporting the candidacy of Cardinal Antonio Carafa, he supported Giovanni Angelo Medici, who was elected as Pius IV. Ghislieri was confirmed in his role as inquisitor, but disagreements with the pontiff, who was distant from the intransigent line of his predecessor, led him to be appointed bishop of Mondovi on March 17, 1560, where he moved; he took possession of the diocese on June 4, 1561.

Assignment history

Upon the death of Pius IV, who entered conclave with the support of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, Antonio Michele Ghislieri was elected on January 7, 1566, crowned on January 17 (his 62nd birthday) by Giulio Della Rovere, cardinal protodeacon and took possession of the Basilica of St. John Lateran on the 27th.

He was the third Dominican friar to ascend to the papal throne. Before him had been elected Cardinal Pietro di Tarantasia, who took the name Innocent V (February-June 1276) and Cardinal Nicholas (or Niccolo) di Boccassio, who took the name Benedict XI (1303-1304). After him a fourth Dominican, Pietro Francesco Orsini, would be elected pope with the name Benedict XIII (1724-1730).

Relations with church institutions

Pius V chose a new seat for the congregation, after the previous one had been destroyed on the death of Paul IV. He held the work of the inquisitors in high regard and sometimes personally attended meetings. He reordered the powers of the cardinal inquisitors in the bull Cum felicis recordationis. In 1571 he established the Sacred Congregation of the Index of Forbidden Books, giving it the exclusive task of updating the list of books subject to ecclesiastical censorship, separating it from the powers of the Inquisition. During his pontificate, the trials of humanists Pietro Carnesecchi and Aonio Paleario took place, both of which ended in death sentences (in 1567 and 1570, respectively). As part of the review of the "Carafa trial," the man of letters Niccolò Franco (to whom, among other things, a famous pasquinata is attributed) was executed and hanged in the public square on March 11, 1570).

Religious orders

With the apostolic letter Lubricum vitae genus of November 17, 1568, the pontiff required the hermit monks gathered following the priest Filippo Dulcetti in 1517 to join some already approved order (and these chose the Augustinian Order).

With the Bull Superna dispositione of February 18, 1566 Pius V approved all the privileges, indulgences and graces granted to the Carmelite Order, including the Sabatine Privilege In 1567 with the brief Superioribus mensibus the pontiff subjected the Carmelites to the bishops who were to be assisted in their task by a small group of Dominicans;

In 1566 he promoted the construction of the Dominican convent of Santa Croce and All Saints in Bosco Marengo, which in his intentions was to be the center of a newly founded town, as well as his burial place.

With the bull Illa nos cura (June 23, 1568), Pius V imposed on the chapter of a province the appointment of a provincial superior from another province. Moreover, in order to guard the chapels of the Portiuncula, the Transit and the Rose Garden and other places made sacred by the memory of St. Francis, as well as to welcome the many pilgrims who came from all places to visit them, in 1569 he gave orders to build in Assisi the great Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, later completed in 1679;

With the bull Dum indefessae (1571) he consented to the collection of alms for the support of the order;

Pius V confirmed the privileges granted to the "Society of Crusaders for the Protection of the Inquisition" and ordered them to defend the actions of the Inquisition (1570). He established that the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus generally maintained the privileges obtained before the pontificate of his predecessor Pius IV; he also confirmed that the election of the Grand Master should be done by the Knights, subject to papal approval.

Decisions in theological matters

If Spain, the major Catholic power of the time, had expelled Jews from its territory, thus giving up on converting them, the Holy See took a different path. Indeed, Pius V decided to keep Jews on Italian territory, aiming at their conversion. The Venetian model was chosen. In the lagoon city, Jews who had arrived after the Spanish expulsions had been confined to an island Roman Jews were locked up in the ghetto, located in a specific area of the Sant'Angelo district, from which Christians were expelled. They were also forced to attend sermons (given by Dominican friars) aimed at their "redemption." Thus, in the papal plan, the hoped-for conversion would come at the end of a long process of attrition.

On January 19, 1567, the pontiff published the bull Cum nos nuper, by which he revoked many of Pius IV's concessions: he obliged the Jews to sell all their property and real estate acquired during his predecessor's pontificate. On Feb. 26, 1569, he published the bull Hebraeorum gens, which sanctioned the expulsion of all Jews from the Papal States, except those who agreed to reside in the ghettos of Rome, Ancona and Avignon. Jews residing in the centers closest to Rome emigrated to the Roman ghetto, which in a few years became overpopulated.

At the head of the Holy Office, Cardinal Ghislieri, who learned that the Waldensians of Calabria had sent for Protestant teachers from Geneva, requesting them directly from Calvin, commissioned Bishop Orazio Greco of Lesina to investigate the Waldensians' doctrine and endowed him with inquisitorial powers. Lesina's report confirmed the seriousness of the facts, so the Waldensians of Guardia Piemontese and San Sisto were subjected to forced measures, gradually tightening, from the obligation to listen to preaching to abjuration. Even after abjuring, some continued to profess heresy and refused to wear the yellow habit in which those who had abjured were obliged to dress. A climate of revolt persisted in Guardia Piemontese and San Sisto: some fled, while others were imprisoned. The troops of the viceroy of Naples Pedro Afán de Ribera intervened: Gian Luigi Pascale, tried in Rome, was burned at the stake on September 16, 1560, for seducing the population of Guardia Piemontese to embrace heresy. On Feb. 9, 1561, the Holy Office issued a decree that placed many restrictions on the freedoms of the Waldensians, who reacted by rebelling or fleeing. The viceroy's troops, led by Marino and Ascanio Caracciolo, set fire to the villages, but were attacked by the people of San Sisto in a narrow gorge and suffered about fifty casualties. The Caracciolos then entered Guardia Piemontese and condemned 150 Waldenses to death for rebellion, carrying arms and heresy: 86 or 88 were executed on June 11, 1561. Hundreds more were imprisoned.

Provisions on Christian ethics and morality

The Pontiff's intransigence, inflexibility and zeal in his relations with the powerful in Europe at the time gained him not a few adversaries. The new pontiff saw the decisions of the Council of Trent recognized in Italy, Germany, Poland, and Portugal; among the Catholic monarchs, only the king of France opposed a denial. Philip II of Spain received the council decrees only on the condition that they did not conflict with his own royal prerogatives.

In 1566 the Pope created a network of informers consisting of agents stationed at all European courts and assassins with the aim of countering Protestants by all means. It was called the "Holy Alliance" and is considered the first papal secret service.

The pontiff sent Cardinal Gian Francesco Commendone to Germany as papal legate, attempting to prevent Emperor Maximilian II from evading the jurisdiction of the Holy See.

Pius V helped Francis II in the suppression of the Huguenots. In 1569 he sent 6,000 men to the leadership of Sforza I Sforza, count of Santa Fiora. Catherine de' Medici, queen consort of Florentine origin, sent a letter to the pontiff (March 28, 1569) in which she feared that the conflict might degenerate into civil war. The pontiff listened to her advice and agreed to peace, which was signed on August 8, 1570 (Peace of Saint-Germain). He then appointed the experienced Anton Maria Salviati (former bishop of Saint-Papoul) as nuncio to France and sent his nephew Cardinal Michele Bonelli as apostolic legate.

On Feb. 25, 1570, the pope excommunicated England's Queen Elizabeth I Tudor for heresy and also judged her to have forfeited her right to rule (Regnans in Excelsis). With this decision the Holy See severed official relations with the Kingdom of England, which were not resumed until the 20th century. The Pope supported the Catholic Queen of Scots, Mary Stuart.

Countering Ottoman expansionism

In 1571 the Ottomans conquered in succession the two main cities on the island of Cyprus-Nicosia and Famagusta, the latter heroically defended by the Venetian Marcantonio Bragadin, who, after surrendering, was skinned alive. Pius V, understanding how the Turkish advance posed a threat to the freedom of Europe, worked tenaciously to organize a coalition of the major European countries. Thus was formed the Holy League (1571), which the pontiff placed under the protection of the Mother of God. The Holy League organized the fleet that later defeated the Ottomans at the famous Battle of Lepanto (Gulf of Corinth, Oct. 7, 1571). Two days before the official announcement, the pope would supernaturally get the news of the victory, communicating it to the cardinals who were in Rome meeting with him, and ordering the bells of the Roman churches to ring out.

The following year, the first anniversary of the victory at Lepanto was celebrated on October 7. Pius V consecrated the victory achieved "...through the intercession of the august Mother of the Savior, Mary," naming October 7 after "Our Lady of Victory," later renamed by Pope Gregory XIII to Our Lady of the Rosary. The Venetian Senate had the battle scene painted in the assembly hall with the inscription: Not force, not weapons, not commanders, but Mary's Rosary made us victorious!

Government of the Papal State

The most important document with regard to the administration of papal territories was the bull Admonet nos (March 29, 1567), which declared the inalienability of lands pertaining to the Church and the prohibition of enfeoffing them. In addition to affirming the rights of the Church, the bull also had the effect of putting an end to the period known as "great nepotism," that is, the ceding by the pontiff of large jurisdictions to his own relatives, a practice that had proved to be a harbinger of squandering.

Relations with other Italian states

On May 23, 1567 Pius V published the bull Prohibitio alienandi et infeudandi civitates et loca Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae. With it the pope forbade illegitimate children from being invested with fiefs of the Church. For some noble houses, which administered ecclesiastical fiefs such as the Estense, the measure had decisive effects. When Duke Alfonso II d'Este died without direct descendants in 1597, his successor to the papal throne, Pope Clement VIII, disclaimed the status of legitimate descendant to the heir Cesare d'Este, refused him investiture, excommunicated him, and avowed control of the city of Ferrara and its domains to the papal state, implementing the devolution of Ferrara in 1598.

On August 21, 1569, the pontiff granted Cosimo I de' Medici the title of grand duke of Tuscany, rewarding him for his zeal in the fight against heresy and for his commitment to the war in France against the Huguenots. This on the other hand was not without consequences in his relations with the kings of France and Germany: in fact, Cosimo I was their vassal and the conferring of the title would have to obtain the prior consent of both. Maximilian II, in fact delivered a formal protest, to which the pope responded by appointing a special commission chaired by Cardinal Giovanni Gerolamo Morone.

Pius V and culture

Pius V was a rigid opponent of nepotism. To the many relatives who flocked to Rome in the hope of some privilege, Pius V said that a relative of the pope can consider himself sufficiently wealthy if he does not know destitution. Since the cardinals thought it expedient to have a nephew of the pope in the College of Princes of the Church, Pius V allowed himself to be induced to give the purple to Michele Bonelli, nephew of one of his sisters and a Dominican himself, provided he helped him with the business affairs. Instead, he allowed Paolo Ghislieri, his brother's son, to join the papal militia, but he even expelled him from the state as soon as he learned that he was cultivating illicit love affairs.

Pius V, exhausted by a severe prostatic hypertrophy for which, out of modesty, he did not want to be operated on, died on the evening of May 1, 1572, at the age of 68, after saying to the cardinals gathered around his bed, "I commend to you the holy Church I have so loved! Seek to elect me a zealous successor, who seeks only the glory of the Lord, who has no other interests down here than the honor of the Apostolic See and the good of Christendom." It is often erroneously reported that he was the first pope to wear white, wanting to wear the habit of the Dominicans even after his election as Supreme Pontiff; in fact, popes had already been wearing the white cassock for centuries, and Pope Pius V merely wore the white habit of his Order under his papal robes.

He was buried in the Vatican Basilica. On January 9, 1588, his remains were transferred to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Pius V remains the only Piedmontese to have been elevated to the throne of Peter in the first two thousand years of Christianity (in the third millennium Pope Francis, who moreover is Piedmontese only by ancestry, ascended the papal throne).

In 1616 Pope Paul V, at the request of the Dominican Order, signed the decree authorizing the ordinary inquiry, thus beginning the canonical process for the beatification of Pius V. In 1624 Pope Urban VIII agreed to open the processes, which recognized the pope's reputation for holiness and eight miracles, two of which were performed during his lifetime. Having examined and approved the trial files by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, Pius V was beatified by Pope Clement X on May 1, 1672.

In 1695, the master general of the Order of Preachers Antonin Cloche requested the examination of two more miracles: the healings of the paralytic child Margaret Massi and of Isabella Ricci, whose life was in danger because of a miscarriage. Having approved the report of the miracles presented by Cardinal Giovanni Maria Gabrielli in consistory on August 4, 1710, Pius V was canonized in St. Peter's Basilica on May 22, 1712 by Pope Clement XI along with Andrea Avellino, Felice da Cantalice and Caterina da Bologna.

His liturgical feast was set for May 5 and is still celebrated on this date at the Tridentine Mass; in 1969, with the reform of the liturgical calendar, the feast was downgraded to an optional memorial and set for April 30. Pius V is the only pontiff proclaimed a saint in a period of no less than six centuries, that is, between Celestine V (1313) and Pius X (1954).

New dioceses

Pope Pius V during his pontificate created 21 cardinals during 3 separate consistories.

Pius V on December 18, 1570 proclaimed Ivo of Chartres (1040-1115) a saint.

With the bull Mirabilis Deus, he proclaimed Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church on April 11, 1567, requiring all universities to study the Summa Theologiae and promoting in 1570 the edition of the saint's opera omnia.

On Sept. 20, 1568, he also declared Basil the Great, Athanasius the Great, John Chrysostom and Gregory Nazianzen Doctors of the Church.

The episcopal genealogy is:

Apostolic succession is:


  1. Pope Pius V
  2. Papa Pio V
  3. ^ Pier Liberale Rambaldi, La Chiesa dei ss. Giovanni e Paolo e la cappella del Rosario in Venezia, Venezia, 1913, p. 27. citato in Zava Boccazzi 1965, p. 350.
  4. a b Owen Chadwick. A reformáció. Budapest: Osiris Kiadó, 272. o. (2003). ISBN 978-963-389-400-2
  5. ^ Canonici regolari di sant'Agostino : Congregazione del santissimo Salvatore (1730). Bullarium Canonicorum regularium Rhenanæ congregationis sanctissimi Salvatoris, seu Congeries privilegiorum ab Apostolica Sancta Sede, & ab episcopis eisdem concessorum: item decreta sacrarum congregationum, aliorumque tribunalium declarationes in ipsorum favorem emanata, cuncta in duas partes divisa ... Opus utile, non modò præfatæ, sed etiam aliis canonicorum regularium congregationibus, quod eidem sanctissimo domino nostro Benedicto 13. pontifici maximo consecrat domnus Apollonius Lupi abbas generalis eorundem canonicorum regularium, & episcopus Himeriensis: Secunda pars privilegiorum sub titulo oneroso, necnon declarationum, cum indice in fine. typographia Reverendæ Cameræ apostolicæ. p. 87.R.P.D. Thomae Del Bene clerici regularis, ... De officio S. Inquisitionis circa hæresim: cum bullis, tam veteribus, quam recentioribus, ad eandem materiam, seu ad idem officium spectantibus; & locis theologicis in ordine ad qualificandas propositiones, pars prior \-posterior!, synopsi materiarum, et indice rerum, notabilium in hoc volumine contentarum illustrata. 1680. p. 665."Ps 118:5 VULGATE;DRA - utinam dirigantur viae meae ad - Bible Gateway". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  6. ^ Durant, William 'Will'; Durant, Ethel 'Ariel' (1961), Age of Reason Begins, The Story of Civilisation, vol. 7, Simon & Schuster, pp. 238–39
  7. ^ Thomas Aquinas (1911). The "Summa Theologica" of St. Thomas Aquinas. Vol. 1. New York.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  8. ^ Jan Peil; Irene van Staveren, eds. (1 January 2009). Handbook of Economics and Ethics. Northampton, Massachusetts and Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-84542-936-2.
  9. ^ Aimé Georges Martimort, ed. (1986). The Church at Prayer: The Liturgy and Time. Vol. 4. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-8146-1366-5.
  10. Durant, William ‘Will’; Durant, Ethel ‘Ariel’ (1961), Age of Reason Begins, The Story of Civilisation, 7, Simon & Schuster, pp. 238–39
  11. Thomas Aquinas (1911). «The "Summa Theologica" of St. Thomas Aquinas». New York. 1
  12. Jan Peil; Irene van Staveren, eds. (1 de janeiro de 2009). Handbook of Economics and Ethics. Northampton, Massachusetts and Cheltenham, United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-84542-936-2
  13. a b Fernand Braudel (1995). The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. 2. [S.l.]: University of California Press. p. 1027. ISBN 978-0-520-20330-3

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