Holy Cross Seminary

Most Asked Questions About the Society of Saint Pius X


Short History Of The Society Of Saint Pius X

Transcription of a conference given by
Rev. Fr. Ramón Anglés

(Reprinted from The Angelus, January 1996)

     The history of the Society of Saint Pius X begins, of course, in the mind of God. But do not believe that its temporal origin is to be found solely at the time of the post-Conciliar crisis. The Society of Saint Pius X was made possible by the providential foresight of an extraordinary man, Fr. Le Floch, superior of the French Seminary in Rome, who in the 1920s formed a group of future prelates and priests who, having been warned by him of the dangers of the Modernist infiltration in the Church, remained faithfully attached to her traditions in the neo-Protestant Revolution. Fr. Le Floch announced in 1926:

     The heresy which is now being born will become the most dangerous of all; the exaggeration of the respect due to the Pope and the illegitimate extension of his infallibility.

Marcel Lefebfre as a  seminarian

This undated picture from the 1920's shows Marcel Lefebvre (front row second on right)
with fellow seminarians at the French Seminary of Rome.


     A grateful Archbishop Lefebvre often spoke of his great teacher, and we will see how in this historical recollection appear again and again figures of ecclesiastics close to the Society of Saint Pius X who studied with our founder under the exemplary guide and example of Fr. Le Floch.




Archbishop Lefebvre is with Alfonse Pedroni

Archbishop Lefebvre is with Alfonse Pedroni, one of the businessman who helped buy Ecône.

    April 11, 1968, Maundy Thursday. In the little Swiss village of Saxon, Alfonse Pedroni is in the town's cafe. He hears a pompous business man bragging that in a few months he will be able to dynamite the chapel and old farm of Ecône. The contract is going to be signed shortly. Before the day is over, Alfonse and Marcel Pedroni and their friends Gratien Rausis, Roger Lovey and Guy Genoud decide to buy the property, once owned by the Canons of St. Bernard, and containing the shrine of Our Lady of the Fields. They visit Bishop Adam of Sion to let him know of their intentions. The Bishop congratulates them but says that the Church is in crisis of vocations and there is no hope for Ecône to be saved and used as they would like as a house of formation. During the week that follows, these Catholic gentlemen learn that the businessman intends to build in Ecône a complex of nightclub, restaurant and motel. On May 31, Feast of the Queenship of Mary, the Canons sell Ecône, not to the disappointed developer but to Alphonse and his friends, who have obtained an emergency loan from the bank. They are happy, but they do not know exactly what they are going to do with the property they have saved from desecration.


The original buildings of Econe

The original complex as purchased with the buildings since added blacked out.


     Also in 1968, the General Chapter of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost revises its Constitutions in the spirit of the Council. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Superior General, protests before the Sacred Congregation of Religious in Rome and he is invited to take a break and to go on vacation. He presents his resignation and retires as chaplain to a convent in Rome.

     In May 1968, in the French Seminary of Rome, the Communist flag hangs from the main balcony in support of the revolutionary students in Paris. A minuscule group of seminarians, still dressed in their cassocks and being shunned by the rest of their comrades and teachers, turn for help to Archbishop Lefebvre. He directs them to the still-conservative University of Fribourg in Switzerland, encouraged by the Abbot of Hauterive and the Dominican theologian, Fr. Philippe. The Archbishop told us about this early endeavor:

Archbishop Lefebvre visits the Orphanage of Auteuil

Archbishop Lefebvre as the new General Superior of the Holy Ghost Fathers visits the Orphanage of Auteuil, France, which the Holy Ghost Fathers had had in their charge since 1923

       I said to these gentlemen that wanted to force me to do something for the seminarians, asking me to take care of them personally, "I'm going to see Bishop Charriere; if he tells me, 'go ahead,' then I will see in it a sign of the will of God." I said this because I really didn't want to; I felt old and I was sure that I could not undertake such a work. When you are 65 years old you do not undertake a work like the one of the Society. Had somebody told me the number of priests and what the Society would be today I would just have smiled sweetly. So I didn't want to, but Bishop Charriere insisted, "Il faut, il faut, you must, you must; faites, faites, do it, do it! Do something, rent a house, don't abandon these seminarians. You know what's going on in the Church. We need absolutely to keep the good traditions.” This was the sign. The Society is therefore not a personal work; it would never have been blessed by God as it has been. It was definitely a work of God.




St. Pius X House in Fribourg

Archbishop Lefebvre moved his seminarians from the Don Bosco House to the St. Pius X House in Fribourg

     And then, as a supplementary proof that the Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg wanted us to exist, on the 1st of November, 1970, he approves and confirms the constitutions and proceeds to the canonical foundation of the International Priestly Society of Saint Pius X in his diocese. (See The Angelus, Nov., 1995.)

     Meanwhile, the Swiss laymen offer the property of Ecône to Archbishop Lefebvre via a local parish priest, Fr. Bonvin, confrere of the Archbishop in the French Seminary at Rome. The seminarians leave the rented 12 rooms of the Don Bosco House in Fribourg and in September, 1970, the first year starts at Ecône with the warm approval of Bishop Adam of Sion.


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