The purpose of the Society of Saint Pius X is “the priesthood and all that pertains to it and nothing but what concerns it” (Statutes).  This includes all the work necessary for the formation of candidates to the priesthood, which takes place in the Society’s international seminaries. 

During six years of intense liturgical life; philosophical, theological and pastoral studies; community life and spiritual direction, the future priests advance toward the altar and prepare for an apostolic life in the service of the Church and for souls. 

Six years towards the altar

  • An initial year of spiritual studies equips candidates with the principles of the interior life.  They study Sacred Scripture, liturgy, Gregorian chant and Latin (all of these subjects are continued throughout the following years), and the Magisterium of the Church, in particular the major papal encyclicals on modern errors. 
  • Two years of philosophy cover all subjects of the traditional scholastic curriculum:  logic, ethics, cosmology, psychology, metaphysics, as well as apologetics, patrology, ecclesiology, Church history and canon law. 
  • Three more years of theology are spent closely studying the Summa Theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas and the writings of classical Thomistic authors.  In the courses on dogmatic and moral theology, seminarians learn the wisdom of God and the soul of the apostolate, while studying in greater depth certain subjects begun in the preceding years. 

Sacred itinerary

A priest is ordained to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The Mass is his life.  He finds in it his spirituality:  the imitation of Christ who offers Himself to the Father for the redemption of mankind.  The seminarian orients his whole life toward the Mass, “with all that it means, all that flows from it, and all that complements it.” (Statutes, II, 2). 

The seminarian’s ascent to the altar is punctuated by his reception of tonsure; the four minor orders of porter, lector, exorcist and acolyte; and then the major orders of the subdiaconate and diaconate, before receiving the priesthood, which takes place at the end of his final year of studies. 

Six international seminaries

The first and most representative seminary of the Society is the International Seminary of Saint Pius X, which was founded in 1971 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in Econe, in the foothills of the Swiss Alps in the Canton of Valais.  The large church, consecrated in 2012, is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the mortal remains of the founder rest in the seminary gardens.  Candidates spend their first year of spirituality at the Seminary of the Holy Cure of Ars in Flavigny, France.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Seminary is the house of studies for our German-speaking candidates.  It is located in Zaitzkofen, Germany. 

English-speaking seminarians of the Society prepare for the priesthood at Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, in the United States, and at Holy Cross Seminary in Goulburn, Australia. 

In Argentina, near Buenos Aires, the International Seminary of Our Lady Coredemptrix receives our Spanish-speaking seminarians.