International Seminary of Saint Pius X
The International Seminary of Saint Pius X in Écône, Valais, Switzerland is the premier seminary of the Roman Catholic Traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X. The seminary is one of the six houses for formation for the future priests of the Society of Saint Pius X. The Seminary was founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and his tomb can be found there.
SSPX was founded, with the canonical approval of the Bishop of Fribourg, in 1970 by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, former Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers (1962-1968), a Father of the Second Vatican Council and one of the best-known prelates in Africa, where he spent much of his early pastoral ministry. He retired as head of the Holy Ghost Fathers in 1968 when the order began revisions of its constitutions, which Lefebvre considered modernist.
Shortly after his resignation, Archbishop Lefebvre was approached by seminarians from the French Seminary in Rome who, he said, were being persecuted for their adherence to traditional beliefs and doctrines. They sought advice on a conservative seminary to complete their studies. He directed them to the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
In 1970, urged by the Abbot of Hauterive and the Dominican theologian and priest, Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, to teach these seminarians personally, Lefebvre approached the Bishop of Fribourg, who, three months before resigning his see, approved, with a document predated by six days to 1 November 1970, the founding of SSPX at the level of a pia unio, the preliminary stage towards becoming an officially recognized religious institute or Society of Apostolic Life. Affluent Swiss laymen offered the seminary at Écône in Switzerland to the newly formed group.
The seminary received a reputation as a "wildcat seminary" for its teaching of traditional practices which were being abandoned in most other parts of the church. The statements made by two apostolic visitors to the seminary in November 1974 resulted in Lefebvre's "Declaration" as a rebuttal. At the seminary, in 1988, he consecrated four bishops without papal approval, an act which was met with his excommunication latae sententiae. Lefebvre resided in a private apartment on the property until his death in 1991 and is buried in a tomb nearby, which was visited by Cardinal Silvio Oddi in 1992.
- The Wanderer Interviews Fr. Aulagnier, SSPX, Luc Gagnon, September 18, 2003
- Davies, Michael (1979). "Chapter 2: A New Apostolate"". Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre. Volume 1.
The success of Ecône provided so dramatic a contrast to this débâcle that its very existence became intolerable for some French bishops. They referred to it as Le Séminaire Sauvage—the Wildcat Seminary—giving the impression that it had been set up illegally without the authorization of the Vatican. This appellation was seized upon gleefully by the Liberal Catholic press throughout the world and soon the terms ‘Ecône’ and ‘Wildcat Seminary’ became synonymous.
- Declaration Archived June 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- "Decree of excommunication on Marcel Lefebvre". 1 July 1988. Retrieved 21 August 2015.