Dominican Saints 101: St. Pius V

April 29, 2012

Why do the Popes wear white?  St. Pius V (1504-1572, feast – April 30).  This famous Dominican Pope was in charge of defending the Church from attacks, of implementing the reforms of the Council of Trent, and of…the Pope’s wearing white.  He didn’t want to give up the color of his Dominican habit.  This wasn’t just something trivial though.  Rather, it is a good analogy for the holiness that marked his entire life. From his infancy, Pius V was known for his holiness and piety.  He was a  faithful religious before he was a bishop.  And, he also lived an austere life as Pope.  Even as Pope, he remained a faithful preacher, dedicated to the liturgy (especially as he sought to make it even more fruitful with the implementation of the Tridentine reforms), and a shepherd of souls the world over.  Overall, much of his life as Pope remained unchanged from his time as a religious.  His interior state reflected the whiteness of his exterior garments, you might say.  Yet, one thing in particular, devotion to the Blessed Mother and particularly her Rosary, exemplifies this. On October 7, 1571, Pius V prayed the Rosary for the Christians to halt the attacking Ottomans at Lepanto.  This Christian naval victory stopped the spread of Islam into Europe, and it signaled a great sign of unity among the Christians.  This victory, though, was not just a military one.  More importantly, it was a sign of Mary’s protection over the Church.  The story has it that the Christian forces also prayed the Rosary before the battle.  Mary responded to their prayers and those of Pius and brought about such a great victory, that Pius instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory, which has now become Our Lady of the Rosary.  In other words, this naval victory has led to our celebration of Mary’s great gift of the Rosary to the Church these 500 years later. May St. Pius V be an intercessor for us that we may be clothed in white garments, and that we might be protected by the Blessed Mother. O God, for the defeat of the Church’s foes and the restoration of divine worship, you were pleased to choose the blessed Pius to be Sovereign Pontiff; grant that we may be shielded by his watchfulness, and so abide in your holy service, that overcoming the wiles of all our enemies, we may enjoy unending peace.  Through Christ our Lord.

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