Here is Father’s Commentary:
Of all the items I have in the Collection, and it’s quite massive, there are only a handful of items that really have an historical role–in other words the item has played an important role in our history. And this item is one of the most significant items that I own, historically. It is a parchment that was actually signed by Pope St. Pius V. (He died on May 1, 1572 and was canonized on May 22, 1712, by Pope Clement XI.)
Up until the time of John XXIII and John Paul II, Pius V was one of the last two popes to be canonized a saint. Pius X is the other. His time frame was the 1560s. And this item is referred to as a ‘breve’. That’s a ‘brief’. And it’s a brief letter to the Senate of Milan asking them to help support the bishop of Milan, Charles Borromeo, the greatest saint of the Counter Reformation, to suppress a religious order called the “Humiliati.”
This significant religious order was founded in Italy in the 12th century and became corrupt. Pope St. Pius V suppressed it in 1667.
The Humiliati began about the year 1300 and became quite large and quite corrupt. And so in the nature of the Counter Reformation, the Catholic Reformation, Pius V wanted to do away with the corruption, and one way to do that, in some instances, was to suppress an order.
The Humiliati was huge at the time. And they were headquartered in Milan, and so to get the support from the Senate of Milan to help the Cardinal-Archbishop, Charles Borromeo, to suppress the order was quite significant.
So this document is actually mentioned in some biographies of Pius V and in some of Charles Borromeo. It became quite significant, a huge instrument in regards to the suppression of the religious order.
You can see Charles Borromeo’s name written on it as well as Pius V’s signature. Obviously, he would have had a calligrapher write the actual document, and then he would have signed it, to seal it.
In fact, all the popes and all the cardinals then would have had professional calligraphers. So when we look at some of these old documents we see the incredibly fancy writing, and obviously these people knew how to do this–because they didn’t have printing presses, or at least not commonly. And the earlier popes certainly didn’t have printing presses. So in some of the earlier documents we see the beauty of them, and then we see the pope signs it in his own hand afterwards: “Pius PP V.” That “PP” is there once again.
Another point to mention about the suppression of a religious order is that after this was in place, and after the senate of Milan started to suppress them, the brothers of the Humiliati got so upset at Charles Borromeo that one of the members actually shot him. They tried to kill him. (He died on Nov. 3, 1584 and was canonized Nov 1, 1610). He was hardly wounded at all, but the mere fact, again, that it was such a highly tense moment in time that they were actually trying to kill the bishop that was suppressing them gives us a window into what was going on in the world during the Counter Reformation, and it makes this document a very interesting piece.
A brevis is a brief document written on vellum.
St. Pius V, pray for us!
The Collection is fortunate to house this letter of thanks signed by St. Charles Borromeo in 1561. At that time he was a cardinal even though he was not ordained until 1563.
A rough translation of this letter:
Most Lord, Most Honorable ?? It was not news to me what your Lordship wrote about your love for me and your respect and devotion for our Lord of this Holy See. It was very nice to hear of your arrival here safely to see me. And why no (4 illegible words). Answer: I wish you happiness and without any doubt, all the best.
After all I had (4 illegible words) and I thank you for the notices..