Your RDA of Irony

St. Pyro

February 25, 1570:  It Now Is Permissible (what is Latin for Kosher?)  To Assassinate Elizabeth I

Pope Pius V was not exactly your Barry Fitzgerald type of priest. Instead, just imagine if Josef Stalin had decided to stay in the seminary. Born in Italy, but with a Spanish personality, the young Antonio Ghislieri joined the Dominician Order where he found kindred psychopaths. He volunteered for the Inquisition and displayed a zealous piety. The Inquisitor was especially suspicious of the well-educated, believing that literacy and heresy were synonymous. To his frustration, however, the Italian Inquisition was more inclined to burn books rather than people. (In Spain, you could do both!)

Yet, his personal austerity earned him the support of the “reformist” faction within the Church; these were the cardinals who felt that Popes should have religious wars instead of mistresses. In 1566, on the death of Pius IV (your typical nepotic rascal), the reformers elected their favorite inquisitor as the next pope. Although 62 at the time, bigotry kept him young. As Pius V, of course he persecuted Jews but that was a mere formality. His real interest was in exterminating Protestants and he had an eventful six year reign. He officially gave Spain permission to wipe out the Dutch. (Without the Pope’s permission, the Dutch did defend themselves.) The Pope encouraged France’s Catholics to kill the Huguenots; he died a few months too soon to enjoy the St. Bartholomew’s Massacre but he must have been there in spirit. On this day in 1570, he declared Queen Elizabeth a heretic and ordered her overthrow and death; however, the Catholics were a minority and those who tried to comply with the Papal directive generally found themselves disemboweled by the Queen’s Secret Service.

Ironically, the Pope did not like the idea of hurting animals and forbade bullfighting. This was one Papal directive that Spain ignored.

In 1712, Pius V was declared a saint. PETA might agree even if Protestants and Jews don’t.

  1. Bob Kincaid says:

    Spain has had, over the centuries, an outright proclivity for providing “Holy Mother Church” with some of her most “colorful” (read: “bloodthirsty”) practitioners. Even the Renaissance couldn’t stem that tide.

    Fast forward from the 16th to the 20th Century. Enter, Stage Right (Wing) Father Josemaria Escriva. Concerned that the Church was losing some of the more “passionate” (read: “sadomasochistic”) elements of the True Faith, Father Escriva gathered unto him a group of faithful proto-Fascists who delighted in wrapping barbed wire around their legs and beating themselves bloody, all in the hopes of gathering the notice of the Almighty, whom, one may assume, these Christian S/M-ers were convinced had a taste for blood. Perhaps the Spanish god had been influenced by too much time in the vicinity of ol’ blood-sacrifice-lovin’ Huitzilopochtli in New Spain. It’s past a complete reckoning, yet Father Escriva declared that such mortification of the flesh was the “work of God” and Opus Dei was born twin to the Spanish Civil War.

    That de facto anti0-Semitism was slow to go, too. Father Escriva once declared “Hitler couoldn’t have been such a bad person. He couldn’t have possibly killed six million Jews. At most he killed only four million.” What’s a couple of million Jews among friends?

    It’s Miracle Math Made Easy, With Father Joe! And Father Joe had a talent for miracles. That’s why Pope John Paul II made a fascist-sympathizer a modern Saint, calling him “the saint of ordinary life.” Ordinary, indeed! Ordinary fascism. “Loved be pain! Sanctified be pain! Glorified be pain!” wrote the would-be Saint Escriva. The question, of course, is always one of which pain and for whom.

    Under such terms, one can imagine the declaration for Pius V: “the saint for ordinary assassination plots.”

  2. Mary says:

    In this country we seem to be only a step or so away from literacy (science) = heresy.

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