If you're going to be a hard-ass, you need to be consistent. I think Machiavelli makes that point twenty or thirty times in The Prince. Saint Pius V, baptized Antonio Ghislieri, may not have read The Prince, but he surely understood that principle well. [Pius V's predecessor, Pius IV, put added The Prince to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, but that didn't stop folks -- even clergy -- from reading it.]
At fourteen, Antonio entered the Dominican Order. He was ordained at twenty-eight and spent the next sixteen years lecturing against the heresies of the day. He was pretty good at this, eventually scoring himself a position in the Inquisition. He also turned his attention back into the Dominican Order, smacking some of the more lax brothers back into line. His advancement continued through a couple of bishoprics, a cardinal's hat, and the supreme inquisitor's office. However, when he criticized Pope Pius IV (to his face, no less) for giving a cardinal's hat to a thirteen-year old relative and supporting a nephew out of the Vatican treasury, he lost a little ground. That sweet office in the Lateran Palace got reassigned to someone a little more... collaborative and his inquisitory (inquisitive?) powers were diminished.
The death of Pius IV was a tidal change in his fortune. Antonio generously took his predecessor's name when he was elected Pope in 1566, just ten days shy of his sixty-second birthday. His first order of business was to clean house in Rome. The prostitutes were expelled from the City. Expenses at the papal household were slashed. Residency requirements for clergy "working" at the Vatican were enforced. In short, the worst excesses of the Roman Catholic Church were curtailed or eliminated, causing some grumbling but not much active opposition within the lower Church ranks.
Of course, he took it to the Protestants as much as to his own flock. Huguenot clergy in France were excommunicated, as was Queen Elizabeth I of England. Probably none of those folks minded very much,as they were tossing around that phrase "Whore of Babylon" every time someone mentioned Rome.
If success is evidence of divine favor, then surely Heaven smiled down on Pope Pius V. If the Divine Watchmaker is letting the world spin without interference, then the credit for the victory goes to Pius and his allies. You see, the Ottoman Empire had been pushing into Europe for centuries, and pretty much having it all their own way. The Pope organized an alliance called the Holy League. Getting squabbling European princes to set aside the vain machinations is no easy task, but he did it. The Ottoman navy struck and was defeated at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Although Pius was in Rome, the Holy League's victory was revealed to him before any messengers reached the city.
Monday, April 22, 2013
|baby double for Prince Saint Arwald|
Little Prince Arwald of the Isle of Wight was lucky, in a way. Had Caedwalla invaded two days earlier, Arwald would have been consigned to Limbo, or maybe Hell if there is no Limbo, as an unbaptized soul. A splash of water, a few syllables of Latin, and the sign of the Cross and then the little fella is a saint instead.
Other saints have such detailed vitae that I can't everything into a single post. Last year, we left an adolescent Saint Theodore as he walked away from a precipice where the Devil had just tempted him toward his death. Saint George, whose feast is tomorrow, was young Theodore's personal patron and guardian.
|Go Ted Go!|
In spite of his fasting and countless hours of prayer, he became a very fast distance runner. On occasion, he would win races against horses, but mostly he used his speed to attend evening Mass fifteen miles away and still be home before Midnight.
Theodore sought the blessing of an old monk named Glycerius. Apparently collecting blessings from venerables was something aspiring young saints did in those days. Glycerius suggested that they test their favor with the Lord by praying for an end to the drought. As they knelt in prayer, clouds rolled up and drenched the land. This, said the venerable monk, was a sign that God would not refuse a prayer from his servant Theodore.
|holy men and rivers -- but the Ganges is warmer|
The text I used said that the monks all gave thanks that these things were revealed to their Brother Theodore. I understand that to mean that the monks were grateful that they had not been inspired to do these things. Nonetheless, Theodore thrived, more or less. He was seized by an influenza demon, but Saint George exorcised it and then announced that Theodore would thenceforth also have the power to drive out demons. This was shortly put to the test when a father and son arrived at the monastery seeking exorcism. Actually, the dad sought exorcism for his son, who wasn't so sure.
|Exorcism -- more than he signed up for|
Tune in next year for another installment of Saint Theodore of Sykeon's holy life.