Yes; wise readers will have remembered, from their frequent use of their glorious and capacious Fr Zed mug, that May 3 is the obitus of the greatest pontiff of the Second Millennium, Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini. But what is it that makes him such a great figure, and one so relevant to our own degenerate days?
In my opinion, it is his combination of the virtues of Enlightenment scholarship with his understanding of the normativeness of Tradition; and a hefty dollop of fine judgement.
As a Enlightenment man, respected as such even by English Whig intellectuals (ex. gr. Horace Walpole), he was aware that 'Tradition' does not mean "How I'm almost sure things probably were in Grandmother's time". His immense erudition ensured his profound awareness that the Past is a country of very considerable complexity. He combined with this understanding an extremely sound sense of judgement, enabling him to discern what really matters in 'the Past'.
The story of his (ultimately unsuccessful) attempts to reform the Breviary exemplifies this. He was aware that things needed to be changed ... not least, in some of the 'historical' lections. But did this mean that the whole shooting-match had to go into the melting pot?
He gathered a group of 'consultators'. They, also, were discerning and adept historians. Their report reminded the Pontiff that some of these questions had arisen under Clement VIII (1592-1605), when that pope's advisers had concluded that the distribution of the psalms in the Divine Office should not be changed. The reasons they adduced were those advanced by S Gregory VII ('Hildebrand'; 1073-1085). "Is igitur qui nunc in Ecclesia Romana viget divinae psalmodiae ritus vetustissima antiquitate utitur, a qua sine aliqua novitatis nota ac sine periculo recedi vix possit." The central words here are, of course, vetustissima antiquitate ... 'the very oldest ancientness'!
The Pope's experts surveyed the views of the learned men of the medieval and renaisasance periods; and ended up with a quotation from Radulphus de Rivo: "Stick with (it is far safer) what foresighted antiquitas et auctoritas teach, rather than what reckless novitas et infirmitas have dreamed up."
Readers will have no difficulty understanding the Latin words I have left in Red!
This was the sound and well-judged liturgical culture over which Papa Lambertini presided. It is a shame that S Pius X, and his successors, poor poppets, did not have rather more of those instincts!