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Saint Pius V

Pius V, Saint, 1504–72, pope (1566–72), an Italian named Michele Ghislieri, b. near Alessandria; successor of Pius IV. He was ordained in the Dominicans (1528) and became celebrated for his austerity. Paul IV made him cardinal (1557) and inquisitor general; under his direction the Roman Inquisition reached a new level of efficiency. On his election he set about putting the decrees of the Council of Trent (see Trent, Council of) into effect; he thus occupies a key position in the Counter Reformation, for his activity in those years just after the council insured the permanence of its work. He governed the Papal States with severity. St. Pius was the first pope after the Reformation to put Catholicism on the political offensive. He excommunicated (1570) Queen Elizabeth I of England and forbade English Roman Catholics to give her their allegiance, a serious political mistake on his part since it had the effect of rallying the English to Elizabeth. He united Venice and Spain with him against the Turks, an alliance that helped to bring the victory of Austria over the Turks at Lepanto (see Lepanto, battle of). He has been much attacked as a persecutor of heresy, but he was certainly not privy to the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day in France. He was succeeded by Gregory XIII. Feast: May 6.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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