Historical Outline of the Society of Saint Pius X
In light of the Society of Saint Pius X's anniversary, let's celebrate its history and the community it has built.
1969 A “retired” Archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, agrees to help in their priestly formation a handful of young seminarians disconcerted by the direction being taken in post-Vatican II seminaries. He does this not only by undertaking their training but also by founding a Society aiming at fostering a priestly life according to the wise norms and customs of the Church of better days.
Nov. 1, 1970 The Society of St. Pius X is officially recognised by the Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, Bishop Charrière. And so, it is truly a new little branch pushed forth by the Church.
Feb 18, 1971 Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, writes praising the wisdom of the Society’s statutes.
Jun 10, 1971 Archbishop Lefebvre announces, together with the staff of the Seminary of Saint Pius X at Ecône, the refusal to adopt the New Order of Mass.
1971-1974 Following on from Cardinal Wright’s decree are other sure signs of Rome’s full acceptance of the of the SSPX, such as:
- allowing its houses to be canonically erected in two Swiss and one Italian dioceses
- allowing three outside priests to join the Society and be incardinated directly into it.
During the same years, the French Episcopal Conference was manoeuvring to have the
Society and its seminary suppressed.
Nov. 1, 1980 By its tenth anniversary, the Society of St. Pius X has 40 houses on two continents.
1983 Fr. Franz Schmidberger, elected at the General Chapter of 1982 as vicar and successor of Archbishop Lefebvre, becomes General Superior.
1985 156 priests in the Society. Archbishop Lefebvre publishes “Open letter to confused Catholics”.
1987 The Society is present in all continents. The scandal of Assisi brings the succession of Archbishop Lefebvre as a more acute problem.
1988 Episcopal Consecration of 4 bishops to continue the sacramental work of Archbishop Lefebvre. The Society numbers 209 priests.
1989 60th Jubilee of ordination of Archbishop Lefebvre.
1991 Death of Archbishop Lefebvre. The Society numbers 249 priests and 4 bishops.
1994 Bishop Bernard Fellay is elected General Superior.
Nov. 1, 1995 By its Silver Jubilee, the SSPX numbers 4 bishops, 332 priests, 50 brothers, 53 Oblates, all living in 140 houses in 27 countries. 120 sisters are also members of the Sisters of the Society of St Pius X. Together they seek the goal of the Priesthood: the glorification of God, the continuation of Our Lord’s redemptive work, the salvation of souls; and this by fidelity to Christ’s testament - the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
2000 Holy Year. Pilgrimage to Rome bring a new phase in the relation with Rome. The Society numbers 400 priests.
2005 Election of Benedict XVI. The Society numbers 451 priests and 4 bishops.
2006 Re-election of Bishop Fellay as General Superior.
2007 Motu Proprio declaring that the Tridentine Mass was never forbidden, and all priests can say it.
2009 Pope Benedict XVI lifts the “excommunications” of the 4 bishops. Doctrinal discussions are opened between the Society and Rome.
2010 As of September 1, the Society numbers 526 priests and 4 bishops.
2012 A special Chapter of the Society deals with the relations with Rome,
2013 Election of Pope Francis. The Society has 14 districts and 2 autonomous houses, with 560 priests and 3 bishops, 103 brothers and 75 Oblates sisters. 58 members have died also since1970.
2018 Fr Davide Pagliarani is elected General Superior.
2020 On August 14, the Society has 675 priests and bishops, 138 brothers and 76 Oblates.