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Pius V: The pope who sunk warships, excommunicated a queen, chastized another pope

Saint Pius V

This pope saint grilled powerful people for crossing the line and committing abuse.

When Pope Pius IV took a step to elevate a 13-year-old family member to the position of cardinal, he confronted his predecessor in person. He also confronted him when he initiated financial support for a nephew from the papacy's coffers. 

He also excommunicated Elizabeth I of England in 1570 for heresay and persecution of Catholics during her reign. Elizabeth grew up a Protestant; her father, Henry VII, cut ties with the Roman Catholic Church in the 1530s.

Pius V founded the Holy League in 1571. Catholic states, including the Spanish Empire, Knights of Malta, Republic of Genoa, and Grand Duke of Tuscany, comprised the league.

The League defeated the Ottoman Turks during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. The league's naval fleet included 202 warships armed with over 1,800 guns and carrying 28,500 soldiers. 

The Ottomans seized Cyprus from Venice in 1571, a few months before the naval battle. This allowed Pius V to fight for the Christian faith against the Turks' expansion in Europe. So he founded Catholic states, including Venice, among others. 

Of the more than 200 warships in the league, 115 were Venitians. 

Pius V made Don John of Austria the commander-in-chief of the league's naval fleet. He advised him not to bring on board soldiers who were not faithful. 

Pius V asked Christians for prayers as the league's warships headed to battle, and he himself begged heaven for victory. 

The battle took the lives of about 7,500 Christians and 20,000 Turks. The Ottoman warships freed about 12,000 Christian slaves.

When the news of victory reached him, Pius V broke into tears. He instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory as an expression of gratitude. 

Pius is deemed to have triumphed over the Christian faith more than any others against the rise of the Ottomans, especially the Battle of Lepanto. 

The Ottoman Empire had threatened to wipe out Italy's Christian faith and destroy Rome. 

Pius V was the central figure in the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church's 19th ecumenical council, which was the core of the Counter-Reformation. 

He also declared Thomas Aquinas the Doctor of the Church in 1567. Pius V and Aquinas were both members of the Dominican Order. 

Pius V also standardized the Roman rite, ensuring a uniform office recitation and mass celebration.

The need for internal church reform, the growth of Protestantism, and the Ottoman advance in Europe, which spread the faith of Islam, presented challenges to his papacy.

Pius V, an Italian, was born Antonio Ghislieri. At the age of 14, he joined the Dominican Order. 

In Genoa, he received his priestly ordination in 1528. He became bishop in 1556 and cardinal in 1557.

He was elected pope in 1566.

In 1712, Pius V underwent beatification and canonization.

He died just a few months after the Battle of Lepanto. 


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.