Remembering Pius V's Marian Devotion

John Paul II Recalls 16th-Century Predecessor

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2004 ( Among St. Pius V’s innumerable merits were his fervent Marian devotion and the institution of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, says John Paul II.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Bishop Fernando Charrier of Alessandria, Italy, to mark the celebration of fifth centenary of Pope St. Pius V’s birth, the Holy Father pointed to his predecessor in the Chair of Peter as an example to follow.

«May the apostolic zeal, the constant pursuit of holiness, and the love of the Virgin, which characterized the life of St. Pius V, stimulate all to greater commitment to their own Christian vocation,» John Paul II stated.

«In a special way, I would like to invite the faithful to imitate him in his filial Marian devotion, rediscovering the simple and profound prayer of the rosary, of which I wished to remind all in the apostolic letter ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae,'» the Pope continued.

«Thanks to the fervent recitation of the rosary, extraordinary graces can be obtained through the intercession of the Lord’s heavenly Mother,» he wrote.

St. Pius V was well persuaded of this, after the victory of Lepanto on Oct. 7, 1571, and wished to institute a proper feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was to be celebrated on that day, beginning that very same year.

«At the beginning of this third millennium, to Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary, I have entrusted with the recitation of the rosary the precious good of peace and the reinforcement of the institution of the family,» John Paul II added.

The Pope concluded by renewing «this confident trust through the intercession of the great devotee of Mary that St. Pius V was.»

Antonio Ghislieri, elected Pope in 1566 with the name Pius V, was born in Bosco Marengo, in the province of Alessandria, in 1504.

He entered the Dominican Order at age 15. After his priestly ordination, he was first a professor and then prior of the monastery; provincial superior; Inquisitor at Corno and Bergamo; bishop of Sutri and Nepi; cardinal; Grand Inquisitor, bishop of Mondovi; and Pope.

Although the title of Inquisitor weighs on his memory, in fact Pius V was a great reformer, committed to eradicating simony and nepotism from the Roman Curia.

To numerous relatives who rushed to Rome with the hope of some privilege, Pius V is known to have said that a relative of the Pope can consider himself sufficiently rich if he is not indigent.

Among the pastoral reforms promoted by him in the wake of the Council of Trent are the obligation of residence for bishops, the cloister of religious, celibacy and holiness of life of priests, bishops’ pastoral visits, the increase of missions, the correction of liturgical books.

The rigid ascetic discipline that the Holy Pontiff imposed on the Church was the constant norm of his own life.

Pius V died on May 1, 1572. He was canonized in 1712.

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