The devotional Dürer
ROME, MAY 24, 2005 - Albrecht Dürer,
genius of the Renaissance, has been firmly associated with Martin
Luther for centuries. From his engravings to his paintings, many
historians have seen the works of this German artist as
a sort of Protestant manifesto.
A new exhibit, "Dürer and
Italy," held in the stunning exposition
space of the former
Quirinale stables, challenges this assumption by emphasizing
Dürer's close ties
to Italian art, especially devotional imagery. The show, open until
June 10, features more than 100 of Dürer's paintings, drawings
Born in Nuremberg in 1471, Albrecht Dürer
painting career much like his other German contemporaries until his
first trip to Italy in 1494 convinced him that the
works of his fellow Northern painters lacked rules of proportion
or composition. It would be Dürer who would bring the
Italian Renaissance to Germany.
Dürer's incredible success on both sides of
the Alps brought him into contact with the most renowned
figures of his day, from Martin Luther to Holy Roman
Emperor Maximilian I. Dürer's brilliant artistic eye was drawn by
the great innovations under way, but also recognized the importance
of the past.
Dürer's initial foray into Italian art led him
to the Venetian school of painting. He learned to use
softer, warmer colors and atmospheric effects that infused his work
with freshness and liberated him from the stiffer Northern style.
But it was the painter Andrea Mantegna, working in Mantua,
who most influenced Dürer.
Like Dürer, Mantegna was also an engraver,
and the young German's style was transformed by the contact
with the Italian's prints. Mantegna used sharp light and dark
contrasts for greater dynamism and gave his engraved figures a
sculptural weightiness. These studies paved the way for Dürer's
great undertaking, "The Apocalypse," also significant as the first book
designed, illustrated and published by an artist.
Published in 1498, Dürer's
"Apocalypse" consists of 15 full-page woodcut prints, several of which
are displayed in the exhibit. The volume of the figures
and the dramatic shading effects reveal their debt to Dürer's
Italian sojourn, as does the tight and organized composition.
has been often interpreted as a preview of Dürer's anti-papal
sentiments even though it was published 19 years before Martin
Luther's 95 Theses. But anachronisms aside, the images seem to
reinforce Church authority rather than challenge it. In the "Four
Angels Holding the Winds," the saved are marked by the
signing of their foreheads, while in the "Adoration of the
Lamb," the blood of the Lamb pours into a chalice
held by a bishop [see
As these details are not
part of the text, it seems that Dürer chose to
add his own conviction of the Church's authority to grant
sacramental grace. The very compositions emphasize the principal
the Book of Revelation. Instead of reading left to right
as a narrative, Dürer's "Apocalypse" images read top to bottom,
underscoring the vertical line of salvation.
Unlike Lucas Cranach the Elder,
who published and illustrated the first edition of Martin Luther's
translation of the New Testament with inflammatory images such as
the "Harlot of Babylon" with the papal tiara and the
city of Babylon as contemporary Rome, Dürer's woodcuts try to
mediate between Church authority and popular piety.
Personally, Dürer seems to
have retained a belief in the efficacy of the sacraments
throughout his life. After the death of his mother, he
wrote, "My pious mother Barbara Holper Dürer, died in Christ
with all the sacraments, absolved of punishment and guilt through
papal authority." Writing these words in 1523, well after the
criticisms of the use of indulgences, implies that Dürer was
not entirely willing to ignore the spiritual authority of the
The exhibit features a moving portrait of Albrecht Dürer the
Elder, the painter's father. Dürer's father worked hard to instill
piety in his family, and the portrait from 1490 shows
a serene man whose eyes gaze slightly upward toward heaven.
Dürer's consummate drawing skill shines in the representation of
father's hands, delicately fingering a rosary [see
For all of
his elevated humanism, Dürer also wrote and illustrated a great
many devotional poems published with sacred images. The poetry was
rough and simple and often directed to saints asking for
Dürer made a second trip to Italy from 1505 to
1507 during which he produced one of his greatest masterpieces,
"The Feast of the Rosary," completed in only five months.
This enormous altarpiece (152 by 192 centimeters, or about 60
by 76 inches) was commissioned by German merchants for the
Church of San Bartolomeo in Venice [see
The Madonna sits
regally in the center of the work framed by a
panel of green silk. Angels hover above her head holding
a meticulously painted crown in the finest German tradition of
oil painting. Baby Jesus lies diagonally across her lap, as
the pope and Maximilian I kneel on either side. Dürer
himself stands on the right, proudly proclaiming his authorship of
The "Sacred Conversation" -- the Madonna and Child with
saints and donors arranged and interacting in space -- was
unknown in Germany until Dürer introduced this popular Italian
image. The exhibition had only a copy from Vienna as
the original, now in Prague, is so damaged that it
cannot be moved.
The artistic document that most represents Dürer's association
with Luther's ideas is the "Four Apostles," given to the
city of Nuremberg in 1526. Asserting the authority of Luther's
Bible, these two panels represent Sts. John and Peter on
one and Sts. Paul and Mark on the other [see
And yet, the figures are arranged as in a Sacred
Conversation, albeit missing the central Madonna and Child to anchor
The grandeur of these apostles, called together to promote
Luther's interpretation of Scripture, nonetheless represents the
Catholic vision of
monumental and dignified saints, in communion with Christ, actively
for our spiritual welfare. In the context of this exhibition,
Dürer appears more as a soul teetering on the brink
of a precipice, rather than a firm follower of Luther's
Polish spies in John Paul II assassination attempt
Researchers have uncovered evidence that the Polish secret
also implicated in a series of assassination attempts that culminated
in the shooting of John Pal II in 1981, following an earlier attempt to
kill the Pope during a visit to the Polish Marian shrine of Jasna Gora
The revelations are made in an article in Polish weekly Wprost
by Leszek Szymowski who was assisted by Marek Lasota, a research fellow
of the Polish Institute of the National Memory.
authors detail evidence confirming that the Soviet KGB planned and led
all efforts to "eliminate" the Polish Pope, from 1978 up to 1989, when
the Communist regime finally collapsed in Poland, and soon after in all
Eastern and Central European countries of the former Soviet Bloc.
According to the website Oracle Syndicate
the new evidence delivers a crushing blow to all "conspiracy theories"
invented by the Soviet disinformation experts or circulated in the
West, which blamed Turkish right wing groups or even the CIA.
new evidence, found in Berlin in the archives of the East German
communist secret service, also confirms the role of the Bulgarian
The researchers say that the Kremlin allotted
to East German intelligence the task of countering all reports and
accusations against the Bulgarians.
However, what was not known
earlier was the participation of the Polish secret services in the
preparations for the plots against the Pope, the researchers say.
The researchers also say that a total of 21 or 22 attempts on the life
of John Paul II were planned between 1978 and 1989.
However, the whole picture concerning these attempts remains dim.
a long time, this code-name used by the Polish special service, was
mistakenly linked to a singular provocation, led by a super-secret
"Section D" of the SB in Cracow, in 1983. "Section D" was a special
operations group, secretly organised in the Polish Ministry of Interior
to carry out criminal operations against the Church.
This particular action aimed at compromising a Cracow priest, Andrzej
Bardecki, an editor of Tygodnik Powszechny
weekly paper and one of the closest friends of then-Cardinal Karol
Wojtyla. In 1983, special SB agents Grzegorz Piotrowski, Barbara
Szydlowska and Barbara Borowiec (women agents) broke into the apartment
of the priest and left there provocative materials. The provocation
In 2005, research by the Polish Institute of National
Memory (IPN) discovered that the "Operation Triangolo" embraced a
series of hostile actions against the Pope, carried out by the Polish
communist secret services.
These shocking findings showed that
the assassination of John Paul II had become the most important goal in
the history of the communist special services in Poland. The Polish
communist services worked for at least four years on a plan to kill the
However, the secret files on "Operation Triangolo"
disappeared from the archives on 11 April 1989 when a special
delegation of the KGB officers came to Warsaw to secure and move out
these documents. These documents are still kept as "top secret" in
Moscow, the researchers say.
Church's 'Black Bishop' under scrutiny
another story, a Roman Catholic seminary in Rome is opening its
archives on the late Bishop Alois Hudal, who is accused of helping Nazi
war criminals escape trial.
The Italian news service ANSA said
researchers hope the documents at Rome's Teutonic College will shed
light on the so-called Black Bishop.
Hudal, who died in 1963,
was head of the Teutonic College during and immediately after World War
II, ANSA asid. He was known for his pro-Nazi views and is alleged to
have helped many Nazi war crimes suspects escape trail - including
Franz Stangl, commander of the Treblinka concentration camp in Poland.
of the evidence against against Hudel has been collected by the Simon
Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish organization that works to find Nazi war
criminals, ANSA said
Christ Unveils Meaning of History, Says Pope
Reflects on Apostle John, the "Seer of Patmos"
GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Apostle John's
objective in writing the Book of Revelation is to unveil,
"from the death and resurrection of Christ, the meaning of
human history," says Benedict XVI.
The Pope delivered that message today
at the general audience, which he dedicated once again to
the Apostle John, whom he presented on this occasion as
"the seer of Patmos." The meditation is part of the
series of reflections the Holy Father is offering on the
Church and the apostles.
"We can also call him 'the seer
of Patmos,'" the Pope said, "because his figure is linked
to the name of this island of the Aegean Sea,
where, according to his own autobiographical testimony, he found
deported 'because of the word of God and the testimony
"Precisely on Patmos, 'in the Spirit on the Lord's
day,' John had grandiose visions and heard extraordinary messages,
would have no little influence on the history of the
Church and on the whole of Christian culture."
Benedict XVI focused
on the Book of Revelation. "The first and essential vision
of John, in fact, concerns the figure of the Lamb,
which, despite being slain, is standing, placed before the throne
where God himself is seated.
"With this, John wants to tell
us two things above all: The first is that Jesus,
though he was killed with an act of violence, instead
of lying fallen on the ground remains paradoxically standing firmly
on his feet, because with the resurrection he has vanquished
"The second is that Jesus himself, precisely because he
died and resurrected, now participates fully in the royal and
salvific power of the Father."
"This is the fundamental vision,"
the Holy Father continued. "Jesus, the Son of God, is,
on this earth, a defenseless, wounded and dead Lamb. And
yet, he is standing, firm, before the throne of God
and participates in the divine power.
"He has in his hands
the history of the world. In this way, the visionary
wishes to tell us: Have confidence in Jesus, do not
be afraid of opposing powers, of persecution! The wounded and
dead Lamb conquers! Follow Jesus, the Lamb, trust Jesus, follow
his way! Even if in this world he seems to
be the weak Lamb, he is the victor!"
Benedict XVI said:
"The object of one of the principal visions of Revelation
is this Lamb at the moment he opens a book,
which before was sealed with seven seals, which no one
was able to open. John is even presented weeping, as
no one could be found able to open the book
and read it. History appears as undecipherable, incomprehensible. No
can read it.
"Perhaps this weeping of John before the very
dark mystery of history expresses the disconcertment of the Asian
Churches because of God's silence in the face of the
persecutions to which they were exposed at that time. It
is a disconcertment which might well reflect our surprise in
the face of the grave difficulties, misunderstandings and hostilities
the Church also suffers today in several parts of the
"At the center of the vision that Revelation presents,"
the Pope said, "is the extremely significant image of the
Woman, who gives birth to a male Child, and the
complementary vision of the Dragon, which has fallen from the
heavens, but is still very powerful.
"This Woman represents Mary, the
Mother of the Redeemer, but she represents at the same
time the whole Church, the People of God of all
times, the Church that at all times, with great pain,
again gives birth to Christ. And she is always threatened
by the power of the Dragon. She seems defenseless, weak."
while she is threatened, pursued by the Dragon, she is
also protected by God's consolation," Benedict XVI said. "And this
Woman, at the end, is victorious. The Dragon does not
conquer. This is the great prophecy of this book, which
gives us confidence!
"The Woman who suffers in history, the Church
which is persecuted, at the end is presented as the
splendid Bride, image of the new Jerusalem, in which there
is no more tears or weeping, image of the world
transformed, of the new world whose light is God himself,
whose lamp is the Lamb."
Charitable Hatred: tolerance and intolerance in
Manchester University Press, £60
Tablet bookshop price £54 Tel 01420 592974
In the reign of Henry VIII about 50 Protestants, proto-Protestants,
Anabaptists and oddities were burned for heresy; two suffered under
Edward VI, perhaps 290 under Mary, six under Elizabeth and two under
James I in 1612. In Henry's reign, around 60 Catholics were executed as
papists; 187 Catholics suffered under Elizabeth, 25 under James, two
between 1625 and 1640 (under Charles I), 26 between 1641 and 1660, and
another 24 as a result of the "Popish Plot" of 1678. The denominational
tally is pretty even: whoever was in charge, religion was a bloody
business. Why did the state persecute and local officials and parish
neighbours cooperate? There were three broad reasons for the slaughter.
The first was pastoral: to drive misbelievers to repentance and save
Christ's people from contamination. The second was propitiatory: God
must not be mocked and he would punish those who allowed error to
flourish. And the third was panic: persecution came in waves, often
associated with plots and invasion scares.
But look at the problem another way: fewer than 700 people died for
their beliefs in a century and a half; fewer than five a year. If
sectarian hatred and fear were so strong, why so few? Why didn't
Catholics burn more Protestants as heretics, and why didn't Protestants
hang more Catholics as traitors? Why weren't even more Protestants
killed when they had been encouraged to overthrow Queen Mary? Why
weren't more Catholics executed when the Armada was coming, and why
didn't more die when the Irish were thought to be coming in the 1640s?
England was a confessional state, expecting unity in religion - but the
religion kept changing, and the persecuted became the persecutors. In a
divided society there were plenty of opportunities for bloodbaths, but
they rarely came. One explanation is concern that they would threaten
public order, and another is bureaucratic inefficiency: a consistent
and determined campaign against deviants was beyond any regime's power.
So there were attempts to distinguish "loyal" Catholics from the
disloyal, notably by the Oath of Allegiance in 1606, and Treasury
officials argued it made more sense to fine papists than to execute
them or drive them into exile. There were diplomatic calculations too -
especially when royal marriages were being made and the best candidates
And what of the persecuted? Well, for both Catholics and Protestants,
there was certainly a cult of martyrdom and some wanted to suffer in
the witness for Christ. It is astonishing how many faced the prospect
of torment, and went through with it - when avoidance was usually
possible. Some did recant, and found there was still the torment of a
guilty conscience. But for most, Catholics and Protestants, it never
came to that: they made the compromises and concessions that saved them
from fines, fires and the gallows. Their leaders wrote of The Hurt of
Hearing Mass (John Bradford, 1554) and Reasons Why Catholics Refuse to
go to Church (Robert Persons, 1581), but Protestants went to Mass under
Mary, and Catholics went to matins under Elizabeth. Well, you would,
wouldn't you? Protestants looked down at the elevation of the Host,
Catholics stuffed wool in their ears and read from a primer or a book
of hours. There were lots of excuses for not being at the parish
church: a sick child; a visiting friend; a lame horse. And the system
usually didn't check.
It is not surprising that the persecuted minorities had strategies of
evasion and mostly chose not to die (or pay fines) on behalf of their
religion. More telling is that the persecuting majority had strategies
of coexistence and mostly chose not to oppress on behalf of their
religion. Dissenters, Lollards, Protestants, papists, Nonconformists,
Baptists and Quakers were recognised in their communities, known for
their differences. But usually they were not turned in: if they would
just go to church sometimes, behave like good neighbours and not be too
stiff-necked, they were safe; until the Armada or the Irish were
coming, and then it could be different.
Religious division in England both made persecution and contained it.
Uniformity of belief could not be achieved so uniformity of conduct
would have to do. There would be no prying into consciences (except the
political consciences of priests), only an insistence on church
attendance - so occasional conformity might be enough to avoid fines or
worse. There was space for dissent, Catholic and Protestant, at a price
- and the price was compromise.
Alexandra Walsham tackles all these compromises and confusions in a
realistic study of persecutors, victims and the many who muddled
through. For those who know their Church history, she labours the
obvious; for those who do not, it is a demanding read.
Most of the material is culled from secondary works, but arranged in
interesting themes. Walsham argues that there was no liberating
progress from persecuting barbarity to tolerant civilisation. Rather,
there was a constant interaction between the urge to crush the
ideological enemy and the imperative to coexist with the fellow-citizen
- and another interaction between the urge to separate from the godless
and the imperative to get along with everybody else. Religious belief
was not the only treasured value, and neighbourliness mattered too.
When a rioting crowd was called to attack a recusant household in 1780,
some cried "What are Catholics to us? We are only against popery!" It
wasn't tolerance, but it was a start.
Kerala: Asia's Cradle of Christianity
"Today", a leading daily of Manila, Philippines
Christianity took root
on the Malabar coast (now Kerala) in the first century AD around the
seven churches that St. Thomas established there. Christian faith has
since flourished across the land, coexisting with other religions. Now
11 of the 23 dioceses in India are in Kerala.
is a narrow stretch of lush green territory that lies on the southwest
coast of the Indian subcontinent. Hindu legends claim that Kerala rose
from the sea as a gift of God. The name Kerala means "the land of
coconuts". The scenic beauty of Kerala is one of the most outstanding
in India. The entire land is interlaced with rivers, placid lagoons,
paddy fields and coconut palms. Plantations of rubber, tea, coffee,
pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and other spices cover the highlands
in the east, earning Kerala the nickname of "the spice coast of India".
lure of spices attracted traders from the Middle East and Europe to the
many trading ports - Calicut, Cranganore, Cochin, Alleppey and Quilon -
long before the time of Christ. And it was on a trading vessel plying
between Alexandria and the Malabar coast that St. Thomas the Apostle
arrived in Cranganore in 52 AD.
he began preaching the Gospel. His teachings were accepted not only by
those who chose to become Christians but also by those who chose to
remain Hindus. The teachings eventually got integrated into the beliefs
and traditions of the local communities, into their family history,
into their songs and dances. St. Thomas established seven Christian
communities or churches in Kerala. They are in Cranganore,
Paravur(Kottakavu), Palayoor, Kokkamangalam, Malayattoor, Niranam,
Chayal (Nilackal) and Kollam (Quilon). Throughout Kerala, one can find
Christian families that are proud to claim descent from ancestors who
were baptized by Apostle Thomas. Sankarapuri, Pakalomattom and Maliekal
are the prominent ones. Some details of this combined tradition may be
found in songs - the "Rabban Pattu", the "Veeradyan Pattu",
the "Margam Kali Pattu" and others that now exist in written
Church in Kerala had a high missionary spirit. Christians from Malabar
spread their faith as far as Maldives and Indonesia.
Thomas Christians were considered high caste, along the Hindu
tradition, with special privileges granted by the kings. The archdeacon
was the head of the Church, and Palliyogams (Parish Councils) were in
charge of temporal affairs. There were women deacons. They had a
liturgy-centered life with days of fasting and abstinence. Their
devotion to the St. Thomas Cross was absolute. Their churches were
modelled after Hindu temples. In short, the St. Thomas Christians of
Kerala had blended well the ecclesiastical world of the East Syrian
Church with the socio-cultural environment of their homeland. Thus, the
East Syrian Church was Hindu in culture, Christian in religion and
Syro-Oriental in worship.
1498, when the Portugese navigator Vasco da Gama landed on the Malabar
coast, there were an estimated two million Christian souls across the
land, and they had 1,500 churches under the jurisdiction of a single
Metropolitan who lived in Angamale. Besides, the Church had, by then,
expanded to the neighbouring Mylapore and Nilgiris as well as northward
along the Arabian Sea coast to Goa, Saimur (Chual), Thana, Sopara,
Gujarat and as far as Sind, now a part of Pakistan. This, indeed, was
the Golden Age of the East Syrian Church.
arrival of Vasco da Gama, however, marked the start of a turning point
and heralded a new struggle for the East Syrian Church. Because the
Portugese, who later established trading posts in Goa, Daman and Diu
north of Kerala, moved against the East Syrian Church leading to
tragic, ecclesiastical incidents.
to Joas de Castro, the Portugese Viceroy in Goa in 1548, the sword of
the Portugese was wielded "mainly against the centuries-old Christians
of Kerala". This was because only in Kerala did the laity stand
steadfast against Western colonization, and maybe the Portugese, who
were under the Roman Church, considered everything outside Roman as
move against the Syrian Church was followed by Western Church
establishing a European diocese in Goa in 1534. In 1557, Pope Paul IV
declared Goa an archdiocese with its supremacy extending from the Cape
of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa to China, and all
Christians, including the East Syrian Church, brought under its
jurisdiction. The East Syrian Archdiocese of Angamali then became a
dependent of Goa.
Europeanization process led to divisions in the Church, as there was
considerable resistance against Western domination. The Christian
communities then split into many groups - East Syrian Catholics, West
Syrian Catholics, Syrian Orthodox, Jacobite Syrian Orthodox, Marthoma
(those who accepted the Anglican Church but with the Eastern Liturgy),
Church of the East (those who accepted the Nestorian Patriarch), and
the Latin Church.
1887 Pope Leo XIII issued the bull of "Quod Jam Pridem", which
liberated the Syrians from the jurisdiction of the Latin prelate of
Verapoly and placed them under two Eparchies - one in Trichur and the
other in Kottayam (both in Kerala). More recently, on January 23, 1993,
a papal declaration again upgraded Ernakulam to major Arch Episcopal
Church with the title of Ernakulam Angamaly.
there are 23 dioceses in India. Eleven of them are in Kerala with a
number of priests from Kerala working in many parts of the world.
Kerala has one vocation (priest brother, sister) for every 70
Catholics. No other community in the world has so many vocations. Most
of the Syrian families have a priest, a religious guide and mentor.
Pope to Venerate Holy
Chalice Kept in Valencia Is Sacred Icon
MADRID, Spain, JULY 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- When Benedict XVI is in
Valencia on Saturday, he will stop to venerate the chalice that is
traditionally considered the one Christ used at the Last Supper.
According to author and professor Salvador Antuñano Alea, the
Last Supper's holy chalice, kept in the cathedral of Valencia, bases
its probability on tradition and "very reasonable archaeological and
historical evidence" but for Christians what is most important is "its
condition as a sacred icon."
The Christian people venerate it because it "represents for them and
takes them back to the sublime moment in which the Son of God left us
his Blood as drink before shedding it on the cross," explained
Antuñano to ZENIT.
A doctor in philosophy and professor at the University of Francisco de
Vitoria in Madrid, Antuñano became interested in the holy grail
given the conjectures, its alleged magical powers and the confusion
between history and reality.
He wrote "The Mystery of the Holy Grail: Tradition and Legend of the
Holy Chalice," published by EDICEP in1999.
From the archaeological point of view, the ensemble of the holy chalice
"is composed of three parts: two stone cups and a gold mount." The
latter "can be dated, according to its artistic style, between the 13th
and early 14th centuries," while "the cup which serves as a setting for
the chalice" "may be dated in the Azahara Medina of Almanzoor, in the
10th century, or, if it came from another workshop, between that
century and the 12th.
The cup itself, however, is much older," said Antuñano,
following the studies of Antonio Beltran, professor of archaeology at
the University of Zaragoza.
His scientific precision, the comparison he made with similar objects
and the critical analysis of the documents "point to an original
workshop -- Egypt or Palestine -- and to the last moments of
Hellenistic art (2nd century B.C. to 1st century A.D.). It corresponds
to the type of vases used for solemnities or belonging to wealthy
homes," commented Antuñano.
Following his studies, Beltran concluded that science confirms the
historical probability of the holy chalice, as well as that of "the
mount as an Egyptian or caliphal cup of the 10th or 11th century which
was added, with rich gold work, to the cup, toward the 14th century,
because it was firmly believed then that it was an exceptional piece,"
History and tradition
"The oldest written historical document which speaks with great clarity
of the holy chalice is the writing for the donation of the chalice,
done by the monks of Saint John of the Rock for the King of Aragon, Don
Martin I the Human," dated "September 26, 1399," Antuñano
The text describes "faithfully the stone chalice that is kept today in
Valencia. Since then its trajectory is completely documented," although
"before that date we have no document that speaks of it," he said.
Therefore, to "the very material reality of the chalice" is added "an
ancient tradition based on vestiges and reasonable evidence," he
Thus it is that an ancient tradition, which corroborates the
archaeological foundation, points out that the chalice went from
Jerusalem to Rome with Saint Peter, and with it the first Popes
celebrated the Eucharist. It arrived in Spain around 258, in the region
of Huesca, sent by St. Lawrence after the martyrdom of Pope Sixtus and
before his own, with the intention of preserving it from the pillaging
of the persecution against the Church decreed by Valerian.
"It remained there until the Muslim invasion, when the faithful saved
it by hiding it in different points of the mountain. In the measure
that the reconquest of Spain advanced, a discreet veneration was also
consolidated in different churches," and "it is very possible that in
the mid 11th century it was in Jaca, kept by the bishops and that, on
the establishment of the Roman rite in the Kingdom of Aragon in the
year 1071, it went to the Monastery of Saint John of the Rock," in
whose silence "it was kept for more than three centuries."
New Testament evidence
"Evidence that is sufficiently probable" is deduced for its part from
the New Testament: "it is possible that Christ celebrated the Last
Supper in St. Mark's house"; the latter was like a "secretary of St.
Paul and St. Peter, with whom it seems he went to Rome," so that it
"would not be strange that the Evangelist would have kept the cup -- a
cup of his crockery -- in which the Master consecrated the Eucharist,"
nor would it be odd "that he gave it to Peter and the latter to Linus,"
and from one to the other to Cletus, Clement and so forth.
It cannot be forgotten that "the Roman canon of the Mass is elaborated
on the rite used by the Popes of the first centuries," and "in one of
its most ancient parts, the formula of the consecration, presents a
slight variation with other liturgies," as it establishes the words:
"'in the same way, the supper being over, he took this glorious chalice
in his holy and venerable hands, giving thanks he blessed it and gave
it to his disciples saying …' in such a way that it seems to insist on
a particular and concrete chalice: the same one the Lord used in his
Supper," noted Antuñano.
The historical itinerary, well documented since 1399, leads us to the
city of Valencia, where in 1915 the cathedral chapter decided to
transform the former chapter hall of the cathedral into the Chapel of
the Holy Chalice, where the latter was installed on the Solemnity of
the Epiphany of 1916.
It had to be taken out of there in great haste twenty years later with
the outbreak of the Civil War, three hours before the cathedral was set
on fire. "When the fire of the war was extinguished, the chalice was
solemnly given to the chapter on Holy Thursday, April 9, 1939, and was
installed in its reconstructed chapel on May 23, 1943," recalled
Since then, worship and devotion to the holy chalice has intensified.
And "the present archbishop, Agustin García-Gasco, has succeeded
in spreading the veneration beyond the limits of the Valentian
community," he said.
"For the Christian, a sacred icon is not only a pious image," not even
a "representation of a religious motive; it is much more: it is a means
for spiritual contemplation, for meditation and for prayer," noted the
Far from harboring any "magical property," "the icon is sacred because
its image evokes a salvific mystery and, in a spiritual but real way,
has as its end to place the one who contemplates it in communion with
that mystery, making him a participant in it," he underlined.
And as "the data of tradition and history indicate seriously the
possibility that it is the same chalice that the Lord used the night he
was betrayed," Christians venerate it because "it carries one to the
sublime moment when the Son of God left us his Blood as drink before
shedding it on the cross" for our salvation, he specified.
"That is why, the core and foundation of veneration of the holy chalice
is in the Eucharistic Mystery," he summarized.
For Professor Antuñano, one of the most important moments of the
holy chalice's history was the visit of Pope John Paul II to Valencia
on November 8, 1982. "After venerating the relic in his chapel, the
Pope celebrated Mass with it.
"The history of the holy chalice will continue, as does the history of
the Church herself," Antuñano concluded, "but the gesture of
John Paul II on consecrating in it the Blood of the Lord may be
considered as the landmark that introduces the relic in the third
Urban II: The Pope of the First Crusade
| Régine Pernoud | Excerpt from The
Crusaders: The Struggle for
the Holy Land
In the Middle Ages our Lady of Le Puy was revered as much as our Lady
of Lourdes is today. People of all classes were drawn on pilgrimage to
her shrine in its strange setting of volcanic rocks at the heart of
France. Serfs, monks, lords, and prelates mingled in an endless
succession, barefoot and carrying candles. Here, in the fervor of this
throng, in the new cathedral with its great porch, its cloister, and
its annexes where the pilgrims were given shelter, the Salve Regina,
long known as the hymn of Le Puy, was first heard, and here it is still
intoned by the priest at the conclusion of the Mass.
One day in August 1095, the ever-present crowd watched some unusual
preparations. A hole was being made with picks in one of the walls of
the building. It was gradually enlarged and finally became a new
entrance to the cathedral, magnificently draped with heavy curtains of
scarlet wool. The reason for this unusual activity was not far to
seek–the Pope, the head of Christendom, was expected at Le Puy. He had
recently crossed the Alps–probably by the usual route through the Col
de Genèvre, Pavia, Turin, the Col de Suse, Briançon, and
Grenoble–then had gone to Valence and consecrated the newly built
cathedral there on August 5. Now he was traveling toward Le Puy by way
of Romans-sur-Isère and Tournon, where he had crossed the
Rhône, and the hills of Vivarais. In honor of this important
pilgrim Adhémar of Monteil, bishop of Le Puy, had caused the new
doorway to be made. It would be sealed again immediately after the Pope
had entered, for it was felt that no lesser person should tread where
the Vicar of Christ had passed through.
On August 15 Pope Urban II celebrated a solemn Mass at Le Puy before a
crowd even greater than usual. This was on the Feast of the Assumption,
the principal feastday of the year at this shrine dedicated to the
In the eleventh century the Pope, the head of Christendom, certainly
did not enjoy the somewhat remote prestige that is accorded to the
Sovereign Pontiff in our day. It was not at all out of the ordinary for
him to travel, particularly to France, and everyone then could
experience in his own district a little of that feeling approaching
familiarity that is today  the privilege of the Romans alone. For
people of those days, seeing the Sovereign Pontiff did not mean seeing
him in all the circumstance of pomp, crowned with the tiara and raised
upon the Sedia. When they gathered on the roads, after his approach had
been announced, they saw him on horseback or carried on a litter, in a
procession of prelates and lay lords. His journeys made him known to
The fact that Urban II was a man of France enhanced his popularity. His
speech and the fine features of a man of Champagne endeared him to the
crowds on that Feast of the Assumption, and the tales told about him
were all to his credit. He had been one of those monks whom a recent
predecessor, the energetic Gregory VII, had withdrawn from the cloister
to bring new life to the clergy and to revive the somewhat corrupt
episcopate. They were to cooperate in the Pope's vigorous program of
reform, standing firm against both lay and ecclesiastical powers, even
against the Emperor himself, in the fight against the traffic in
benefices, against simoniac clergy, and against the nepotism indulged
in by the rulers of the time, who set their favorites at the head of
abbeys or ecclesiastical provinces.
As a young man, Urban had been known as Odo of Châtillon. He had
been trained by Saint Bruno himself, founder of the Carthusian order.
Almost immediately after his election as Pope he was obliged to enter
the lists against the Emperor Henry IV and the antipope, Guibert, his
nominee, against the King of England, William Rufus, son of the
Conqueror, and against the King of France. The situation was almost
hopeless; he was forced to flee from Rome and could rely on only five
loyal bishops in the whole of Germany. Then gradually he began to
recover his rights. He was even able to return to Rome. The antipope
had retreated to Ravenna, and his followers, under imperial protection,
now held only the castle of Sant' Angelo and the actual sanctuary of
Saint Peter. In May 1095 the Pope had been able to hold a council at
Piacenza, where he effectively demonstrated that he was, in fact, the
head of Christendom. It was a surprising thing that this man who had
found his vocation in the peace and renunciation of the cloister should
have developed there the fighting qualities of a successful leader.
While the crowd slowly scattered after the day's final ceremonies,
Urban II held a long discussion with the bishop of Le Puy,
Adhémar of Monteil, the son of that count of Valentinois who
held the castle of Montélimar. He had been a knight before
taking holy orders and was a man of fine character, respected and
trusted by the Pope. In the days that followed, monks or clerics were
sent off in all directions as messengers in the service of the bishop.
They carried pontifical letters calling every abbot and bishop loyal to
Urban to a general council to be held at Clermont on the day of the
second Feast of Saint Martin, Sunday, November 18. Lay barons as well
as members of the clergy were invited to its closing ceremony.
Urban II left Le Puy two days later for La Chaise-Dieu, where he was
received by Durand, bishop of Clermont. On August 18 he dedicated the
church there. It must, have been a happy day for this former monk to
meet on this occasion three of his Cluniac friends–Hugh, bishop of
Grenoble; Audebert of Montmorillon, bishop of Bourges; and Durand
himself. Hugh was later canonized as Saint Hugh of Châteaunetif.
He was the man who helped Saint Bruno to establish his new order in the
valley of La Grande Chartreuse. These four men had all been members of
the order of Cluny, which had raised to its highest pitch Catholicism's
inherent feeling for splendor. The phrase "a man of perfect beauty" was
the greatest commendation that the succeeding abbot could find when he
wished to praise Saint Mayeul.
On the following October 25, before going to Clermont, Pope Urban II
consecrated the high altar of the immense basilica at Cluny. This
church was the largest in Christendom, bigger even than Saint Peter's
in Rome, and it was embellished with all the glories of Romanesque art.
The Pope held frequent discussions there with high-ranking
clergy–including Géraud of Cardhaillac, bishop of Cahors, who
will be encountered again later in Cyprus and Jerusalem–in order to
settle the agenda to be followed at the Council. One of these men,
Durand, bishop of Clermont, died on November 18, the very day the
Council assembled, and its first business was the solemnization of his
Urban went on from La Chaise-Dieu to Saint-Gilles du Gard. He arrived
on September 1, the feastday of the abbey's patron saint, when crowds
of pilgrims were attracted there by the ceremonies. It is very likely
that the count of Toulouse, Raymond of Saint Giles, was among them. He
was one of the most powerful vassals of the King of France, overlord of
vast and wealthy lands in the south. If he was indeed present during
the ten days of the Pope's stay, he probably had many talks with him
while the ceremonies and processions outside followed their ordered
"More than two hundred and fifty episcopal crosses", wrote Bernold the
chronicler with a journalistic touch when he described the scene in the
cathedral at Clermont on Saint Martin's Day in 1095. Two hundred and
fifty high dignitaries of the Church–bishops and mitred abbots–were
among those who walked in procession to the chant of the Veni Creator.
A huge crowd of onlookers had been attracted to Clermont, far too many
to be easily accommodated even in that great cathedral, in spite of its
size, its narthex, and its choir, which had an ambulatory with chapels
radiating from it–this cathedral was one of the first buildings
designed in this manner. The building in which the Council was held was
not the present cathedral. It was replaced by one of Gothic design,
further adorned, centuries later, by the towers and spires of
Viollet-le-Duc. By way of contrast, the church of Notre-Dame du Port,
the foundations of which had then just been laid, still stands today.
There were no less than fifty-four churches in eleventh-century
This assembly was both impressive and significant, for it was a
gathering of the faithful flock around their shepherd. For many, their
attendance there implied considerable courage. Pibo, bishop of Toul,
now very old and infirm, had journeyed halfway across France to be
there. He was a Saxon by birth and had previously been chancellor to
the Emperor Henry IV. His mere presence at the Council was a protest
against his powerful master and the latter's nominee, the antipope.
Many bishops from the north of France had come, as if to demonstrate
their loyalty to the See of Saint Peter in defiance of the Holy Empire.
Among them were Lambert of Arras, Gerard of Thérouanne, and
Gervin of Amiens, and the abbots of Saint Waast, Anchin, and Saint
Bertin. From dioceses and abbeys within the Holy Roman Empire had come
Poppo, bishop of Metz; Abbot Martin of Saint Denis du Mont; Richer,
bishop of Verdun (represented by his legate); and many more.
John of Orleans and Hugh of Senlis were two bishops who came from the
royal domain of France, although their King had quarrelled with the
Pope. From Normandy ventured Gilbert, bishop of Evreux; Serlon, bishop
of Séez; and Abbot Goutard of Jumièges, who died from old
age and sickness during the course of the Council. These came from
territories administered by Odo of Conteville, full brother of William
the Conqueror, a man who had fought thirty years before at the Battle
of Hastings and has his place on the Bayeux tapestry. He had acted as a
viceroy for his brother and had been given the title of earl of Kent.
Another important group were the representatives from Spain: Berengar
of Rosanes, bishop of Tarragon; Peter of Audouque, bishop of Pampeluna
(Pamplona); Bernard of Sédirac, a former Cluniac monk who had
been sent by Saint Hugh to Spain to become abbot of Sahugun, the
"Spanish Cluny", and afterward archbishop of Toledo; also Dalmace,
bishop of Compostella, another former monk of Cluny. The name of each
of these bishoprics was a reminder of victories over the Moors. It was
exactly ten years since Alphonse, VI of Castille had retaken Toledo,
and in 1092 the hero of the Reconquista, Roderigo Diaz the Cid
Campeador, had established a new Christian state around Valencia. The
great enterprise undertaken in Spain against Islam, and so strongly
supported by Cluny, was now beginning to bear fruit. Finally, the
clergy of Auvergne, Aquitaine, and Languedoc were, naturally, well
represented behind Adhémar of Monteil.
The atmosphere of the Council was stirring. Exciting ideas were at work
like leaven, and ardent discussions were inspired by Gregory VII's
reforms. Robert of Molesmes was there, the man who, in living
illustration of Saint Bernard's work, was to found the Cistercian
order, the spread and influence of which were to become enormous within
Meetings took place with full solemnity. Ecclesiastical justice was the
first matter dealt with; quarrels were settled–such as that between the
great canonist, Yvo, bishop of Chartres, and Geoffrey, abbot of La
Trinité de Vendôme; previous sanctions against the sale of
sacraments by simoniac clerics were renewed; decrees were issued on the
taking of Communion in the two kinds which was usual at the time; tile
dates of Ember Days were determined; and, incidentally, men in holy
orders were forbidden to frequent taverns.
In particular the Pope gave the full weight of his authority to the
renewal of the right of sanctuary. This was the right which granted
safety from pursuit to any criminal who could reach a monastery, a
church, or indeed any holy place; even the wayside crosses were to
become places of sanctuary, and a person clinging to one of them was
not to be harmed. Another important decision was made that strengthened
the idea of the truce of God and widened its scope. Every Christian
over the age of twelve had to vow to observe its ordinances–it was
forbidden to carry on private warfare during the whole of Lent, from
Advent until the octave of the Epiphany; on each feastday of our Lord,
of the Virgin Mary, and of the apostles; and finally during the whole
time between Wednesday night and Monday morning.
It is with astonishment that one records another decree of this
Council, one completely at odds with the most elementary rules of
diplomacy. In the very heart of the realm of France this Pope, so long
harried and not yet able to make himself master of all his own domains,
dared to summon the King himself to appear before him like a common
criminal. Philip I was publicly found guilty of adultery, having put
aside his lawful wife and taken the wife of one of his vassals, Fulk le
Réchin. When he was summoned by the spiritual power to renounce
this illicit union, he refused to come before the Council and was
When one considers that the Pope had in mind a great project for which
he intended to seek support among the vassals of that same King, this
excommunication is in itself enough to indicate the mental climate of
the time. It is obvious that political considerations were not the
The Council ended on November 27. Laymen were admitted to the closing
ceremony, so the crowds which gathered in the morning were even greater
than on previous days. The meeting was held in the open air at the
Champ-Herm (probably the Place Champet), where a raised platform had
been erected for the Pope and important churchmen. Only a few people
there had any idea of the startling appeal that would be made before
the Council closed. Adhémar of Monteil, quiet and self-assured,
was one of them, while Raymond of Saint Giles, now many miles away, had
in his usual hotheaded and excitable fashion already dispatched
messengers to announce his support of the Holy Father's proposals.
Urban's speech has been reported by several chroniclers, but probably
Fulcher of Chartres was the only one of them who heard it in person.
His account is likely to be the most accurate impression of what was
said. He writes:
The heavy demands of the times have forced me, Urban, by the grace of
God the wearer of the pontifical tiara and Pontiff of the whole earth,
to come before you, the servants of God, as a messenger to reveal the
Although, children of God, you have made a solemn promise to keep peace
among yourselves and faithfully uphold the rights of the Church, you
must now, fortified anew by the grace of our Lord, show the strength of
your zeal in the performance of a precious task which concerns all of
you no less than it concerns the Lord. It is imperative that you bring
to your brothers in the East the help so often promised and so urgently
needed. They have been attacked, as many of you know, by Turks and
Arabs, who have spread into imperial territories as far as that part of
the Mediterranean which is known as the Arm of Saint George  and who
are penetrating ever farther into the lands of these Christians, whom
they have defeated seven times in battle, killing or capturing many of
them. Churches have been destroyed and the countryside laid waste. If
you do not make a stand against the enemy now, the tide of their
advance will overwhelm many more faithful servants of God.
Therefore, I beg and beseech you–and not I alone, but our Lord begs and
beseeches you as heralds of Christ–rich and poor alike make haste to
drive this evil race from the places where our brothers live and bring
a very present help to the worshippers of Christ. I speak in my own
person to you who stand here. I will send the news to those who are far
off, but it is the voice of Christ which commands your obedience.
It was at this point in the Pope's speech that there appeared for the
first time in the Church's history the promise of an "indulgence". The
word, like the thing it stood for, has since played so important a role
that it is as well to consider its meaning.
It often happens, even today, that a phrase such as "three hundred
days" or "seven years and seven times forty days" of indulgence is
found at the end of a prayer or invocation. Some people understand by
this that the mere fact of saying that prayer or invocation will earn
for them the remission of so much time in Purgatory. In fact, the sort
of tariff mentioned is a clear reminder of those medieval customs that
flourished in Urban's time. A believer who made his confession,
expressed regret for his fault, and obtained pardon for it undertook at
the same time to do the penance given him by the priest. The punishment
was proportionate to the crime, and it is still one of the
conditions–called satisfaction by theologians–of absolution, but it has
now become much less spectacular. In the Middle Ages such penances
consisted generally of long periods of fasting, and sometimes even, as
in the case of Fulk Nerra, pilgrimage to the Holy Land was imposed.
In proclaiming the indulgence Urban II offered remission of all
penances for their sins to those who "took the cross":
If anyone who sets out should lose his life either on the way, by land
or by sea, or in battle against the infidels, his sins shall be
pardoned from that moment. This I grant by right of the gift of God's
power to me.
The Pope declared that everything belonging to the Crusaders would be
put under his own protection during their absence and would be as safe
from harm as the property of the Church. Then he ended his speech with
May those men who have been occupied in the wicked struggle of private
warfare against their fellow Christians now take up arms against the
infidel and help to bring this long delayed campaign to a victorious
end. May those who have been brigands now become soldiers, and those
who have fought against their own families now fight as they
should–against barbarians. Let those who have served for mercenaries'
pay now earn an everlasting reward, and let those who have dissipated
their body and soul now gather their strength to win a double prize.
What more is there to say? On the one hand, there are people in great
distress–on the other, there are those who live in plenty; over there
are the enemies of God–here are his friends. join us without delay! Let
those who are going settle up their affairs and collect what they will
need to pay their expenses, so that when the winter is over and the
spring comes they may set off joyfully under the guidance of our Lord.
Robert the Monk, in his version, suggests that the Pope drew a
comparison between the wealth of the Orient and the poverty of the
Western world, but Fulcher of Chartres, who, let us remember, provides
the best source for what happened at the Council, makes no allusion to
this. According to him, the Pope promised only heavenly riches. In
fact, at that time the Western world displayed evident signs of
prosperity. New buildings, churches, and even whole towns were rising;
fairs and markets were being organized, and the movement for the
freeing of towns from feudal control had begun at least thirty years
What the Pope was seeking at this meeting of important representatives
of Christianity was nothing less than an expeditionary force against
Islam. His astounding request was greeted with immense enthusiasm. The
shout of "Deus lo volt!" (God wills it!) that rang out over the meadow
at Clermont echoed across the Christian world. The sound was heard from
Sicily to distant Scandinavia and aroused a strength of feeling that
was beyond even the Pope's expectation, and that lasted for more than
two centuries before it finally died away.
This drive against the Turks was a project that had no real precedent,
and so the necessary organization had to be worked out from the
beginning. Urban II had probably considered this in his conversations
with Adhémar of Monteil; he may also have been able to draw upon
Raymond of Saint Giles' experience as a knight. Possibly ideas for the
planning of the enterprise were taken from the Spanish Reconquista or
the Norman seizure of Sicily. Some years earlier, in 1063, an
"international" force composed of men from Italy, Provence, Languedoc,
Burgundy, and Aquitaine had attacked and taken the stronghold of
Barbastro in Spain, and many people saw in this force a forerunner of
the Crusades. But no one at the time missed the essential significance
of the appeal made at the Council of Clermont and its release of a
whole series of actions unparalleled in their far-reaching effect.
The pilgrimages to the Holy Land form the only true precedent to the
Crusades. The historian Paul Rousset has firmly established the link
between these pilgrim journeys and the armed pilgrimage that the
crusading movement was to become. The words "crusade" and "crusader",
which seem so natural to us, were not in use at the time. When they
used the phrase "take the cross", they were merely making a literal
application of the words of the Gospel. The application consisted, at
Clermont and at later gatherings, of cutting a small cross out of cloth
and applying it then to one's shoulder. This was an outward sign of the
taking of the vow to go to Jerusalem "for the sake of true religion;
not for honor or riches but in order to free the Church of God", as
Urban II had said. The name "crusader", crucesignatus, is used only
occasionally and then only as an epithet.
Words such as "pilgrimage", "the expedition to Jerusalem", "the road to
Jerusalem", "the way to the Sepulchre", or "to our Lord" were used
to describe the journey. Those who set out were known as "la gent Notre
Seigneur" (our Lord's men), or "Hierosolymitani" (Jerusalem farers),
the term for pilgrims to Jerusalem. They were distinguished by the
cross, symbol of forgiveness, of suffering that atones, and reminder of
the One that was raised on the hill of Golgotha in the land they
intended to recapture; They were "armed with the sign of the cross",
and after its recapture the True Cross was carried as a standard before
the armies going into battle. The Crusaders' war song was a liturgical
chant, the Vexilla Regis prodeunt, composed four centuries earlier by
Fortunatus, a bishop who was also a poet, and normally sung at Vespers
on Good Friday and on feastdays of the Cross.
By a strange transposition of modern thought into a bygone age some
historians of our day have suggested that the root causes of the
crusading movement were economic and similar to those of colonialism.
In fact it was precisely because the Latin kingdoms had no impulse
toward colonization, and no colonists, that they had such a precarious
existence The overwhelming majority of those who went on crusade had no
other idea than to return home once their vow was accomplished.
Jean Richard, a present-day authority on the history of the Crusades,
writes, "A Crusade is often thought of as an expedition of landless
knights and broken peasantry. Some people have wished to link this
exodus with an economic crisis resulting from the introduction of a
perfected method of harnessing, which caused widespread unemployment.
It was unfortunate for the kingdom of Jerusalem that these adventurers
were not numerous enough!" 
Adhémar of Monteil was the first to rise. He moved toward the
Pope and "with a radiant face", as Baudry of Bourgueil describes him,
begged permission to take the cross. To an uproar of applause, Urban II
blessed the little crosses snipped out of some cloth that had been
brought. Soon he was hemmed in by a crowd of spectators, all demanding
to be marked with the cross of Christ. Some reporters of the scene,
their judgment overcome by their enthusiasm, have suggested that the
cardinals present cut up their red robes to supply crosses, forgetting
that in those days the cardinals did not wear scarlet. 
Messengers arrived the next day, November 28, from Raymond of Saint
Giles, announcing his intention of joining the Crusade. A final meeting
of the Council was held to appoint a spiritual head of the expedition,
and it was felt that the bishop of Le Puy, Adhémar of Monteil,
the first man to take the cross, was the only possible choice. Various
details of organization remained to be settled. The date of departure
was fixed for August 15 in the following year, 1096, and certain
qualifications were laid down regarding those who wished to take the
cross. Since the taking of a vow was involved, recruits must first seek
the advice of their priests; monks had to have permission from their
bishop or abbot, while minors and married women needed the consent of
those who were responsible for them. The armies were to assemble at
Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Empire, a mighty citadel
which stood firm against the rising tide of Islamic conquest.
Urban II left Clermont on December 2 and continued his journey. He
visited various towns in southern France, preaching the Crusade and
dedicating the host of churches that were springing up in this most
fruitful period of the life of France, when both its romanesque art and
the chansons de geste began to blossom. On December 7 the church of
Saint Flour was dedicated; this was followed by the consecration of the
abbey church of Saint Geraud at Aurillac. The Pope solemnly consecrated
the cathedral of Saint Stephen at Limoges on December 29, and the abbey
church of Saint Savior in the same town on the next day; then came the
consecration of the high altar in the abbey of Saint Savior at Charroux
on January 10 and of another altar in the monastery of Saint Hilary at
Poitiers on its feastday, January 13. He made almost a grand tour of
the district, moving from Angers to Marmoutiers, then to Bordeaux and
Toulouse. Here on May 28, 1096, he consecrated the collegiate church of
Saint Sernin in the presence of Raymond of Saint Giles. Then he
dedicated the cathedrals of Maguelonne and Nimes, and on July 15 the
altar of the new church of Saint Giles du Gard. Urban went on to
Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, Apt, and Forcalquier before he crossed
the Alps to reach Milan in August 1096.
By this time, the Crusaders had already begun to move along their
various paths toward the meeting places appointed by the Pope.
 The Hellespont.
 Hierosolymitana expeditio, peregrinatio, iter Hierosolymitanum, via
 Le Royaume latin de Jérusalem (Paris, 1953) p. 29.
 The wearing of the scarlet robe was instituted by Pope Paul II in
1464. The Pope in earlier times is often shown dressed in a red cloak.
The white soutane was not worn until the sixteenth century (Saint Pius
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles:
• Crusade Myths | Thomas F. Madden
• Mistakes, Yes. Conspiracies, No. | Vince Ryan
• Saint Martin and the Search Holiness | Régine Pernoud
Régine Pernoud, a renowned French archivist and historian, is
among the greatest medievalists of recent times, and the success of her
books has helped to bring the Middle Ages closer to modern readers.
Among her numerous works are Those Terrible Middle Ages!, Martin of
Tours, and Women in the Days of the Cathedrals.
What the Crusades
Were Really Like
Thomas Madden Dispels Myths
ST. LOUIS, Missouri, OCT. 10, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The
were not unprovoked aggressors, greedy marauders or medieval
as portrayed in some history books.
In fact, Thomas Madden, chair of St. Louis
history department and author of "A Concise History of the Crusades,"
that the Crusaders were a defensive force that did not profit from
ventures by earthly riches or land.
In fact, Thomas Madden, chair of St. Louis
history department and author of "A Concise History of the Crusades,"
that the Crusaders were defensive wars, not wars of conquest.
Madden shared with ZENIT the most popular myths
the Crusades and the modern findings that prove them wrong.
Part 2 of this interview will appear Monday.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about the
Madden: The following are some of the most common
and why they are wrong.
Myth 1: The Crusades were wars of unprovoked
against a peaceful Muslim world.
This is as wrong as wrong can be. From the time of
Muslims had sought to conquer the Christian world. They did a pretty
job of it, too. After a few centuries of steady conquests, Muslim
had taken all of North Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor and most of
In other words, by the end of the 11th century the
of Islam had captured two-thirds of the Christian world. Palestine, the
home of Jesus Christ; Egypt, the birthplace of Christian monasticism;
Minor, where St. Paul planted the seeds of the first Christian
-- these were not the periphery of Christianity but its very core.
And the Muslim empires were not finished yet. They
to press westward toward Constantinople, ultimately passing it and
Europe itself. As far as unprovoked aggression goes, it was all on the
Muslim side. At some point what was left of the Christian world would
to defend itself or simply succumb to Islamic conquest.
Myth 2: The Crusaders wore crosses, but they were
only interested in capturing booty and land. Their pious platitudes
just a cover for rapacious greed.
Historians used to believe that a rise in Europe's
led to a crisis of too many noble "second sons," those who were trained
in chivalric warfare but who had no feudal lands to inherit. The
therefore, were seen as a safety valve, sending these belligerent men
from Europe where they could carve out lands for themselves at someone
Modern scholarship, assisted by the advent of
databases, has exploded this myth. We now know that it was the "first
of Europe that answered the Pope's call in 1095, as well as in
Crusading was an enormously expensive operation.
were forced to sell off or mortgage their lands to gather the necessary
funds. Most were also not interested in an overseas kingdom. Much like
a soldier today, the medieval Crusader was proud to do his duty but
to return home.
After the spectacular successes of the First
with Jerusalem and much of Palestine in Crusader hands, virtually all
the Crusaders went home. Only a tiny handful remained behind to
and govern the newly won territories.
Booty was also scarce. In fact, although Crusaders
doubt dreamed of vast wealth in opulent Eastern cities, virtually none
of them ever even recouped their expenses. But money and land were not
the reasons that they went on Crusade in the first place. They went to
atone for their sins and to win salvation by doing good works in a
They underwent such expense and hardship because
believed that by coming to the aid of their Christian brothers and
in the East they were storing up treasure where rust and moth cannot
They were very mindful of Christ's exhortation that
who will not take up his cross is not worthy of Christ. They also
that "Greater love hath no man than this, than to lay down his life for
Myth 3: When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in
they massacred every man, woman and child in the city until the streets
ran ankle deep with the blood.
This is a favorite used to demonstrate the evil
of the Crusades.
It is certainly true that many people in Jerusalem
killed after the Crusaders captured the city. But this must be
in historical context.
The accepted moral standard in all pre-modern
and Asian civilizations was that a city that resisted capture and was
by force belonged to the victorious forces. That included not just the
buildings and goods, but the people as well. That is why every city or
fortress had to weigh carefully whether it could hold out against
If not, it was wise to negotiate terms of surrender.
In the case of Jerusalem, the defenders had resisted
up to the end. They calculated that the formidable walls of the city
keep the Crusaders at bay until a relief force from Egypt could arrive.
They were wrong. When the city fell, therefore, it was put to the sack.
Many were killed, yet many others were ransomed or allowed to go free.
By modern standards this may seem brutal. Yet a
knight would point out that many more innocent men, women and children
are killed in modern bombing warfare than could possibly be put to the
sword in one or two days. It is worth noting that in those Muslim
that surrendered to the Crusaders the people were left unmolested,
their property and were allowed to worship freely.
As for those streets of blood, no historian accepts
as anything other than a literary convention. Jerusalem is a big town.
The amount of blood necessary to fill the streets to a continuous and
three-inch depth would require many more people than lived in the
let alone the city.
Myth 4: The Crusades were just medieval colonialism
up in religious finery.
It is important to remember that in the Middle Ages
West was not a powerful, dominant culture venturing into a primitive or
backward region. It was the Muslim East that was powerful, wealthy and
opulent. Europe was the Third World.
The Crusader States, founded in the wake of the
Crusade, were not new plantations of Catholics in a Muslim world akin
the British colonization of America. Catholic presence in the Crusader
states was always tiny, easily less than 10% of the population. These
the rulers and magistrates, as well as Italian merchants and members of
the military orders. The overwhelming majority of the population in the
Crusader states was Muslim.
They were not colonies, therefore, in the sense of
or even factories, as in the case of India. They were outposts. The
purpose of the Crusader states was to defend the holy places in
especially Jerusalem, and to provide a safe environment for Christian
to visit those places.
There was no mother country with which the Crusader
had an economic relationship, nor did Europeans economically benefit
them. Quite the contrary, the expense of Crusades to maintain the Latin
East was a serious drain on European resources. As an outpost, the
states kept a military focus.
While the Muslims warred against each other the
states were safe, but once the Muslims united, they were able to
the strongholds, capture the cities, and in 1291 expel the Christians
Myth 5: The Crusades were also waged against the
No pope ever called a Crusade against Jews. During
First Crusade a large band of riffraff, not associated with the main
descended on the towns of the Rhineland and decided to rob and kill the
Jews they found there. In part this was pure greed. In part it also
from the incorrect belief that the Jews, as the crucifiers of Christ,
legitimate targets of the war.
Pope Urban II and subsequent popes strongly
these attacks on Jews. Local bishops and other clergy and laity
to defend the Jews, although with limited success. Similarly, during
opening phase of the Second Crusade a group of renegades killed many
in Germany before St. Bernard was able to catch up to them and put a
These misfires of the movement were an unfortunate
of Crusade enthusiasm, but they were not the purpose of the Crusades.
use a modern analogy, during the Second World War some American
committed crimes while overseas. They were arrested and punished for
crimes. But the purpose of the Second World War was not to commit crimes
Q: Do you think the struggle between the West and
Muslim world is in any way a reaction to the Crusades?
Madden: No. That may seem a strange answer when you
that Osama bin Laden and other Islamists often refer to Americans as
It's important to remember, though, that during the
Ages -- really up until the late 16th century -- the superpower of the
Western world was Islam. Muslim civilizations were wealthy,
and immensely powerful. The West was backward and relatively weak.
It is noteworthy that with the exception of the
Crusade virtually every other Crusade launched by the West -- and there
were hundreds -- was unsuccessful.
The Crusades may have slowed Muslim expansionism,
they in no way stopped it. Muslim empires would continue to expand into
Christian territories, conquering the Balkans, much of Eastern Europe
even the greatest Christian city in the world, Constantinople.
From the Muslim perspective the Crusades were not
noticing. If you had asked someone in the Muslim world about the
in the 18th century he or she would have known nothing about them. They
were important to Europeans because they were massive efforts that
However, during the 19th century, when Europeans
conquering and colonizing Middle Eastern countries, many historians --
in particular nationalist or royalist French writers -- began to cast
Crusades as Europe's first attempt to bring the fruits of Western
to the backward Muslim world. In other words, the Crusades were morphed
into imperialist wars.
Those histories were taught in the colonial schools
became the accepted view in the Middle East and beyond. In the 20th
imperialism was discredited. Islamists and some Arab nationalists then
seized on the colonial construction of the Crusades, claiming that the
West was responsible for their woes because they had preyed on Muslims
ever since the Crusades.
It is often said that people in the Middle East have
memories; it is true. But in the case of the Crusades, they have a
memory: one that was manufactured for them by their European conquerors.
Q: Are there any similarities between the Crusades
the war against terror today?
Madden: Aside from the fact that soldiers in both
want to serve something greater than themselves that they hold dear and
long to return home when it is over, I see no other similarities
the medieval Crusades and the war against terror. Motivations in a
secular society are very different from those in the medieval world.
Q: How are the Crusades different from Islam's
or other wars of religion?
Madden: The fundamental purpose of jihad is to
the Dar al-Islam -- the Abode of Islam -- into the Dar al-Harb -- the
of War. In other words, jihad is expansionistic, seeking to conquer
and place them under Muslim rule.
Those who are then conquered are given a simple
For those who are not People of the Book -- in other words, those who
not Christians or Jews -- the choice is convert to Islam or die. For
who are People of the Book, the choice is submit to Muslim rule and
law or die. The expansion of Islam, therefore, was directly linked to
military successes of jihad.
The Crusades were something very different. From its
Christianity has always forbidden coerced conversion of any kind.
by the sword, therefore, was not possible for Christianity. Unlike
the purpose of the Crusades was neither to expand the Christian world
to expand Christianity through forced conversions.
Instead, the Crusades were a direct and belated
to centuries of Muslim conquests of Christian lands. The immediate
that sparked the First Crusade was the Turkish conquest of all of Asia
Minor in the 1070s through 1090s.
The First Crusade was called by Pope Urban II in
in response to an urgent plea for help from the Byzantine emperor in
Urban called the knights of Christendom to come to the aid of their
Asia Minor was Christian. Part of the Byzantine
it had been first evangelized by St. Paul. St. Peter had been the first
bishop of Antioch. Paul had written his famous letter to the Christians
of Ephesus. The creed of the Church was penned at Nicaea. All of these
were in Asia Minor.
The Byzantine emperor begged the Christians of the
for aid in recapturing these lands and expelling the Turks. The
were that aid. Their purpose, though, was not only to reconquer Asia
but also to recapture other formerly Christian lands that had been lost
due to Islamic jihads. This included the Holy Land.
In a nutshell, therefore, the major difference
Crusade and jihad is that the former was a defense against the latter.
The entire history of the Eastern Crusades is one of response to Muslim
Q: Did the Crusaders have any success at converting
Madden: I would note that in the 13th century some
began a mission in the Middle East to seek to convert Muslims. It was
successful, largely because Islamic law makes conversion to another
a capital offense.
This attempt, though, was separate from the
which had nothing at all to do with conversion. And it was by peaceful
Q: How did Christendom rationalize its defeat in the
Were the Crusaders defeated?
Madden: The same way that the Jews of the Old
did. God withheld victory from his people because they were sinful.
led to a large-scale piety movement in Europe, whose aim was to purify
Christian society in every way.
Q: Did Pope John Paul II in fact apologize for the
Has he actually condemned them?
Madden: This is an odd myth, given that the Pope was
roundly criticized for failing to apologize directly for the Crusades
he asked forgiveness from all those that Christians had unjustly harmed.
Our Holy Father did not condemn them, nor did he
for them. He apologized for the sins of Catholics. More recently it was
widely reported that John Paul II apologized to the patriarch of
for the Crusader conquest of Constantinople in 1204.
In truth, though, the Pope only reiterated what his
Pope Innocent III [1198-1216] said. That too was a tragic misfire that
Innocent had done everything he could to avoid. He apologized for the
of Catholics who took part in the Crusades. Yet he did not apologize
the Crusades themselves or even the outcome of the Crusades.
How Charles Carroll Influenced U.S. Founding Fathers
Scott McDermott on the Catholic
Signer of Declaration of Independence (November 1, 2005)
NASHVILLE, Tennessee, (Zenit.org).- Charles Carroll made
history as the lone Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence,
but his legacy is all but ignored in today's classrooms.
Scott McDermott, a circulation librarian at Vanderbilt University
Divinity School, writer and convert, began studying about Carroll after
he came into the Church and wrote about his findings in "Charles
Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary" (Scepter).
Q: Why did you choose to do a biography on Charles Carroll?
McDermott: When I was an undergraduate, prior to my conversion to
Catholicism, I studied the American Revolution quite a bit.
The conflict was described almost exclusively in terms of what has been
called the "Whig view of history." In this view, all history is seen in
terms of linear progress toward maximum personal freedom, of the sort
enjoyed by Protestant Englishmen in the 19th century.
Now this is a rather antiquated point of view, which was denounced by
such influential 20th-century historians as Sir Herbert Butterfield and
Sir Karl Popper.
It was, however, alive and well in history departments in the 1980s,
albeit in a different form: Instead of progress toward Anglo-American
political institutions, history was interpreted as a gradual struggle
for liberation of all peoples from oppressive "Western" truths and
So, we were given the Whig school in postmodern dress, and the American
Revolution was seen not as an affirmation of timeless laws of nature,
but merely as an assertion of civil rights.
After my conversion, I became interested in knowing whether the
Revolution could in fact be related to the older Christian -- and
Catholic -- political tradition. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, as the
only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the
obvious place to start.
Educated by Jesuits in France, Carroll was steeped in the Catholic
political tradition: from St. Thomas, through St. Robert Bellarmine and
Francisco Suáárez, all the way down to Montesquieu.
His thought clearly reflects Catholic political precepts such as the
priority of the common good, corporatism, the liberty of the Church,
popular sovereignty, the natural law, and what later came to be called
But Carroll had to be careful about quoting any of the great Catholic
doctors of the Church, because of the taboo against Catholicism in
English political life. Carroll brought these ideas into the mix at the
time of the Founding, without acknowledging their source.
I've been accused of saying that the American Revolution originated
directly from Catholic political teaching. This is obviously not the
case; the truth is more complex and interesting.
Catholic teaching was almost totally suppressed in the British Empire
in the 18th century. The colonists thought they hated the Catholic
political tradition, which they mistakenly identified with the Stuarts'
doctrine of divine right. But the Founding Fathers really had no idea
what the authentic tradition was.
When they began to resist the king in Parliament, they had to develop a
new political science fast.
There was a radical political tradition in England coming from the
Puritans, which included the idea of resistance to tyranny; but the
Puritan tradition emphasized the supremacy of Parliament, the same
Parliament that passed the Stamp Act, and the Townshend Acts and the
Intolerable Acts. So the Americans had to dig deeper.
There was the common law, under which laws that violated the natural
rights of Englishmen were theoretically null and void. But in spite of
the lip service paid by Coke and Blackstone to this theory, the truth
was that no judge in England was willing to throw out acts of
Parliament, especially those relating to American colonists, on grounds
of natural law.
So the colonists had to go back beyond common law, to its roots in the
natural law, as proclaimed by Bracton and St. Germain and the courts of
equity prior to the Reformation.
I argue that the Founding Fathers unknowingly reinvented the Catholic
political tradition. If anyone had suggested to them at the time that
that is what they were doing, the Founders would have been horrified.
Paradoxically, they were able to revive several elements of Catholic
thinking because they were totally ignorant of the authentic tradition.
They also had Charles Carroll in Congress and in the Maryland Senate,
pushing them toward Catholic political practice without ever letting on
what he was doing. And this is what the Third Plenary Council of
Baltimore meant when it said in 1884 that the framers of the
Constitution were "'building better than they knew,' the Almighty's
hand guiding them."
The results were not perfect, but approximated Catholic political
thought in a number of important ways.
Q: How did Carroll use natural law and natural rights in arguing that
the colonies were justified in breaking from England?
McDermott: In his "First Citizen" papers of 1773, Carroll argued that
it was necessary to move back beyond the common law to the "clear and
fundamental" principles of the English constitution, namely the natural
Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence cites the "Laws of
Nature and of Nature's God" to justify the Revolution, and appeals to
the natural rights that derive from the natural law.
At the same time, Carroll was writing his own "Declaration of the
Delegates of Maryland" to explain Maryland's vote for independence.
Carroll's natural law thinking as expressed in this document
complements Jefferson's approach while correcting some of its
Carroll wrote: "We the Delegates of the People of Maryland in
Convention assembled do declare that the King of Great Britain has
violated his compact with this People, and that they owe no
allegiance to him."
Then he went back and crossed out "of the People." Thus, in keeping
with Catholic corporatism, the "Delegates of Maryland" represent the
whole body of society, and not just the majority will. Popular
sovereignty is not a matter of ongoing revision of the Constitution by
majorities, as Jefferson supposed.
Also, Carroll's document stays with the traditional natural rights of
life, liberty and property. "Slaves, savages and foreign mercenaries
have been meanly hired to rob a People of their property, liberty [and]
lives, guilty of no other crime than deeming the last of no estimation
without the secure enjoyment of the two former."
Jefferson, of course, substitutes a right to the "pursuit of happiness"
for the right to property. By inventing this new right, Jefferson
distorted the concept of natural law, with dramatic consequences for
the rest of American history.
Maryland's Declaration appeals for its truth "to that Almighty Being,
who is emphatically styled the Searcher of hearts, & from whose
Omniscience nothing is concealed."
Jefferson's original draft described the natural law as a "sacred and
undeniable" truth. Franklin insisted on suppressing even this vague
reference to the divine, and so we have the phrase "we hold these
truths to be self-evident."
Well, they are self-evident, but they also come from a personal Divine
Lawgiver without whom natural law has no meaning.
Q: How did Carroll help
convince people that Catholics could be good citizens?
McDermott: First of all, through his brilliant "First Citizen" letters
of 1773, in which he argued for Catholic civil rights. Second, through
the crucial role he played in setting up the government of Maryland.
Lastly, by risking his huge fortune when he signed the Declaration of
There was an incredible shift in the American view of Catholics at the
time of the Revolution, one which has often gone unnoticed.
Prior to the Revolution, all Catholics were viewed as potential
traitors, and France was seen as a mortal enemy. A French alliance was
unthinkable to the colonial mind.
Suddenly, in 1775, John Adams was describing Carroll as "a Roman
Catholic, but an ardent patriot." Within a few years there was a
full-fledged alliance between the United States and two Catholic
powers, France and Spain.
This resulted partly from wartime necessity, but also had something to
do with Carroll's commitment to the American cause.
Q: Why was Carroll -- quite an active politician -- often left out of
early history accounts?
McDermott: Everything that conflicted with the Whig -- a.k.a. WASP --
view of history started to disappear from histories of the Revolution
in the mid-19th century. Carroll's thought obviously did not fit this
mind-set, which is still unfortunately going strong.
During the 1960s, historians rediscovered the "ideology of the American
Revolution," but they saw this ideology as stemming almost exclusively
from the Puritan tradition and John Locke. The influence of Montesquieu
continues to be largely ignored, even though a 1984 study by Donald
Lutz in the American Political Science Review shows that the Founders
quoted Montesquieu more frequently than any other source except the
Montesquieu's vision of limited and mixed government was the crucial
prototype for the American system of checks and balances. Locke's
emphasis on Parliamentary supremacy had little to do with the
government the Founders devised.
Q: Who are some other important Catholics in American history that have
been all but forgotten in modern history books?
McDermott: Well, first of all, the Catholic explorers and settlers
prior to the settlement of Jamestown, beginning with Ponce de
Leóón in 1521.
Bernardo de Gáálvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana
during the Revolution, won the third-greatest victory of the war at
Pensacola. Has anyone ever heard of him?
Other Catholic heroes of the Revolution include Commodore John Barry,
Stephen Moylan, and of course Lafayette, Kosciuszko, Pulaski, de Kalb,
Other Catholic patriots, not just the famous names, also need to be
brought to light, including the 18th-century Irish immigrants who made
up the muster rolls of the Revolution.
We tend to think Irish immigration began with the potato famine, but
this is simply untrue; there was large-scale Irish immigration during
the colonial period. Many of these immigrants were Scots-Irish
Presbyterians, but an unknown number were Catholic.
Other Catholic soldiers of the Revolution include
Gáálvez's army of Creoles, Germans, Irish, Cajuns,
Mexicans, African-Americans and Spaniards.
Q: What was the significance of Americans not electing a Catholic to
the presidency until 1961? Why did it take so long? Did it pave the way
for other Catholics in the public square?
McDermott: Anti-Catholicism as a real force in politics was spent by
the end of the 19th century.
Al Smith and John F. Kennedy were hampered in their presidential
campaigns not so much by their Catholicism as by their association with
urban corruption and machine politics. Most Catholic politicians prior
to 1980 did, in fact, have these associations. That is no longer the
case, so I would expect that stigma to disappear for the next Catholic
On the other hand, he will be expected to follow in the footsteps of
President Kennedy by disavowing any direct papal influence on political
decisions. The candidate should perform this ritual, and should avoid
quoting, say, papal encyclicals or Doctors of the Church.
But he must, of course, let his conscience be formed by the social
teaching of the Church. In public he can speak in terms of natural law,
which is written on the heart of all people, whether Catholic or not.
Who knows, it might even work -- or the strategy could provoke another
period of anti-Catholic backlash in public life. It's impossible to say
at this point.
Q: America has now seen its second Catholic chief justice of the United
States. In what other high-profile positions are you seeing Catholics
McDermott: The career of Roger Taney, the first Catholic chief justice,
should be a cautionary tale for Chief Justice John Roberts.
Taney's Dred Scott decision uses natural law thinking to proclaim an
inalienable right to property in slaves. The Dred Scott decision did
not bolster the cause of natural law jurisprudence. And as part of
governmental centralization during Reconstruction, several states
removed social contract language from their state constitutions.
What Roberts should do is try to revive natural law jurisprudence,
while being careful to avoid its misuse. It is impossible to say at
this point whether he will have any interest in doing this.
Many conservative jurists, upset at abuses of natural rights logic in
past Supreme Court decisions, want to respect "legislative intent." But
this line of thinking, without a proper respect for legitimate natural
rights, could result in a tyranny of the majority.
Other jurists wish to honor the Founders' "original intent" rather than
natural law -- but the mind of the Founders was saturated with natural
Q: Have Catholics achieved greater acceptance and public influence at
the cost of losing their identity as Catholics?
McDermott: Alexis de Tocqueville noticed a strange phenomenon in
American Catholicism that is still operative today. He observed that
Americans raised in the Church tend to fall away. But on the other
hand, the Catholic Church in America tends to attract a large number of
Americans are a fundamentally religious people, and the unity, order
and stability that they see in the Catholic Church attracts many devout
I think the story of the Catholic Church in America is one of many
Catholics forfeiting their identity in order to gain social acceptance
-- but it is also one of vitality, as new Catholics replenish the stock.
I hope the Church will find some way to continue attracting converts,
while retaining the "cradle Catholics"; we converts sometimes lack the
rootedness, stability and deeply ingrained charity that faithful
"cradle Catholics" possess.
Clearing the Record on Vatican II
Interview With Archbishop Agostino Marchetto
VATICAN CITY, JULY 13, 2005 (Zenit.org).- One of the
historical interpretations of the Second Vatican Council betrays the
says the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers
in a new book.
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, in "Vatican Council
Counterpoint for Its History" (Vatican Publishing House), describes as
"unbalanced" and "ideological" the analysis of the event made by some
of historians, in particular the so-called Bologna Group.
He elaborated on his view in this interview with
Q: Some historians, such as professor Giuseppe
and his collaborators [in the Bologna Group], have presented the Second
Vatican Council as a discontinuity in the history of the Church, a
Curia against progressive theologians, tradition against renewal, a
VI who betrays John XXIII. What is your opinion?
Archbishop Marchetto: Whoever reads my book will
that, while trying to situate myself in the historical interpretation
the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, taking into account the
of the general historiographic "tendencies," I retain my specific
of what the Catholic Church is, also historically.
Therefore, I see Vatican II in continuity with all
ecumenical councils, not as a shooting star, but as part of a
though having some of its own characteristics. Hence, it does not
a break, a sort of birth of a new Church.
This is, after all, the thought of John XXIII, of
VI, of John Paul II and also of Benedict XVI, to only mention the Popes.
The opposition between "conservative Curia" and
theologians" is also a simplification, as within the Curia there were
sensibilities and tendencies.
An example of this was Cardinal Cicognani who
the stagnant situation of the first schema on the Church, giving a
light to Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens for a new writing, although in fact
it was not totally new, as according to him, 60% of the earlier schema
remained in the second.
The opposition between John XXIII and Paul VI, which
separate "John's Council" from Paul VI's, in December 1963, is
and this is not just my opinion, but also that of professor Roger
According to him, there is only one conciliar line between the two
of the Council. There are other examples, but my answer is already
Q: According to the "History of Vatican Council II,"
by Giuseppe Alberigo and his collaborators, Pope Paul VI betrayed the
thrust that stemmed from the Council, on two essential topics:
in regard to the primacy of Peter, and the moral judgment on the use of
contraceptives. What happened and what did Paul VI do?
Archbishop Marchetto: As I have already explained,
profound sense of the debate was the image of Catholicism, an
Council, with its search for consensus, which would unite -- the word
is used, updating -- the two spirits of Catholicism, fidelity to
and the incarnation of what I call "the today of God."
This was the idea that united John XXIII and Paul
despite the diversity of their personalities. In the volume I present
ideas of one and the other, in communion. … For me, in the end,
and renewal embraced in the Council.
In regard to the two topics you mentioned, the
collegiality, was rather an ecclesial characteristic of the first
which was rediscovered, so to speak, by Vatican II. It was placed,
contradiction, next to papal primacy, exercised personally, which
especially in the second millennium.
In this case also the conjunction "and" reveals
Catholic: collegiality and primacy, as one cannot speak of collegiality
if, in the college, its head -- the Bishop of Rome -- is not there.
In regard to the use of contraceptives, without
into the ethical judgment of the magisterium, it must be admitted that
Alberigo's accusation of a "conciliar silence" is not justified, as it
is not right to speak, as he does, of a "trauma caused throughout the
world by the encyclical 'Humanae Vitae.'"
Q: You have described the analysis of Vatican II
by the Bologna Group as "unbalanced" and "ideological." What do you
are its most serious errors?
Archbishop Marchetto: From the beginning I have
as "ideological" the interpretation made by the "Bologna Group." And
ideology exists there is a lack of balance, extremism, blurred vision.
I will limit myself to take up all that I wrote
Alberigo's conclusions in Volume V of his history of the Council,
the already mentioned opposition between John XXIII and Paul VI; the
of "modernity" -- what does it mean?; the tendency to consider "new"
which were not new; the judgment of "lack of a head" in the conciliar
the partisan view on religious liberty.
Q: You say there are more exact and balanced studies
analyses that explain the meaning and history of Vatican II. Which are
Archbishop Marchetto: I might mention, for example,
works of Cardinal [Leo] Scheffczyk, which in Italian is entitled "The
Aspects of the Post-Conciliar Crisis and Correct Interpretation of
II," with a presentation by Joseph Ratzinger, as well as that of
Vincenzo Carbone, entitled in Italian "Vatican Council II, Preparation
of the Church for the Third Millennium."
In 1994, professor A. Zambarbieri published a small
on "The Councils of the Vatican," which for me constitutes the best
study published up to now on the great Vatican synod.
I would add the work of Antonio Acerbi, which is
critical of Alberigo, in his "Minutes of the Meetings Held in the
Seminary of Bergamo 1998-2001."
Lastly, I think I cannot forget the new Pope, in
some of his reminiscences, in "La mia vita. Ricordi (1927-1977)" [in
"Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977] which led me to ask him to write
But now this is no longer possible.
Q: What do you hope to achieve with your book? Has
time arrived to discuss Vatican II in truth and charity?
Archbishop Marchetto: In the preface of my book I
"My desire is to contribute to write, finally, a history of Vatican II,
which will overcome the grave conditionings -- that is why the title
'counterpoint' -- created up to now by a vision that I describe as
from the start and that imposes itself as a monopoly in the publishing
If my hard effort and my going against the current
years has served to break a monopoly and to create freedom of research
among historians, to study Vatican Council II in a wider dimension than
that realized to date, I would feel profoundly happy.
In any case, dialogue is important also among
and my history of the historiography on Vatican II over the past 15
is an attempt to make a contribution. Moreover, "counterpoint" also
to music, to harmony, to overcoming one-sidedness.
In this connection, at the end of his presentation
my book in the Capitolio of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini said: "The
of the Council as a rupture and a new beginning is coming to an end.
it is an extremely weak and groundless interpretation in the body of
Church. The time has come for historiography to produce a new
of Vatican II that is finally a true history."
How the Church Helped Build the West
Book Highlights Catholic Contribution
NEW YORK, JUNE 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- No institution
done more to shape the West than the Church. This is the thesis of a
book, "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization" (Regnery
by Thomas E. Woods Jr.
The Catholic Church, Woods notes, has come in for a
press in the past few years. And many people are only aware of the
parts of Church history. This book sets out to change that, by
dealing in a series of thematic chapters with a number of areas where
Church played a crucial role.
Western civilization, Woods is careful to add, does
derive exclusively from Catholicism. Nevertheless, it is easy to forget
just how much the Church contributed in such areas as art, music,
science and law.
A strongly negative view still persists regarding
Middle Ages, even though Woods affirms that just about all historians
now rejected the old prejudice of this period as the "Dark Ages." While
there was indeed a period of decline in the sixth and seventh
this was due to barbarian invasions and constant wars. The destruction
would have been worse if it had not been for the Church's efforts at
some kind of order.
Modern civilization owes a particular debt to the
of countless monks during the Middle Ages, Woods points out. It was in
the monasteries that the great Roman texts were copied and preserved
future generations. And even though over the centuries many monasteries
were destroyed by successive waves of barbarians they would spring up
to continue their task.
The medieval monasteries were also vital in the
of agriculture. In particular, the many thousands of Benedictine
played a crucial role in clearing and developing land. They also
the local populations to important techniques, such as cattle rearing,
cheese making, water management and raising bees. Cistercian
also played a vital role, Woods adds, in areas such as the development
of water power and metallurgy.
A time of learning
Far from being a period of ignorance the Middle Ages
the birth of the university system. The Church was at the center of
advance, which took off in the second half of the 12th century in
established in Paris, Bologna, Oxford and Cambridge. The papacy, Woods
explains, also played a central role in establishing and encouraging
universities. By the time of the Reformation, 81 universities had
a papal charter.
Modern science also owes a large debt to the
Church. Most people remember the Church's conflict with Galileo, which
was not nearly so negative as popular myths would have it, Woods
The Church was at the center of scientific advances, with many
combining their divine vocation with an interest in science.
In the 13th century, the Dominican St Albert the
for example, was considered one of the precursors of modern science.
Robert Grosseteste, chancellor of Oxford University and bishop of
is described by Woods as being considered to have been one of the most
knowledgeable men of the Middle Ages. He was, among other
the first to write down a complete set of steps for performing a
The Church's involvement with science would continue
later centuries. In the 17th century Father Nicolaus Steno of Denmark
credited with setting down most of the principles of modern geology.
in the 17th and 18th centuries the Jesuits made many important
to science, particularly in areas such as mathematics and astronomy.
Art and architecture also owe a great debt to the
Church. When the iconoclasts, who were opposed to images of religious
sought the destruction of religious art in the eighth and ninth
it was the Church that resisted this heresy.
In the following centuries Catholic patronage,
the construction of the great cathedrals and the commissioning of
works of art, was at the center of European art and architecture. The
in particular, as patrons of many great artists were behind the
of many masterpieces.
The discovery and conquest of the New World
Catholic theologians with the task of developing what should be the
and ethical principles governing the treatment of the native peoples in
the new territories. One of the best-known of these thinkers was
de Vitoria, a Dominican who is credited with helping to lay the
of modern international law. He defended the principle that all men are
equally free and have the same right to life, culture and property.
Vitoria, along with other figures such as fellow
Bartolomé de las Casas, played an important role in defending
native populations against those who sought to treat them as a subhuman
class, thus legitimizing slavery and other kinds of ill treatment.
were committed in spite of these efforts, notes Woods, but the Spanish
theologians made important contributions to concepts such as natural
and the just war.
Many other aspects of Western legal systems also owe
origin to the Church, explains Woods. The legal code developed by the
for its own use, canon law, was the first systematic body of law
in medieval Europe and formed the basis for subsequent secular legal
Church influence was vital in ensuring, for example,
a valid marriage required the free consent of both the man and the
And the Church's defense of human life meant that the Greek and Roman
of infanticide was discontinued. Other barbaric practices such as trial
by battle or blood feuds were eventually discouraged due to the
influence. Canon lawyers also introduced principles such as reducing
liability due to mitigating circumstances.
Catholic charity is another field examined by Woods.
the first centuries the Church sought to alleviate the suffering caused
by famines and diseases. Inspired by the Gospel the faithful were
to donate money to the Church to be used to help those in need.
In the early Church, hospices were organized to care
pilgrims, ransomed slaves and the poor. Other groups, such as widows
orphans, also benefited from institutions set up by the Church. The
of hospitals on a large scale also stems from initiatives organized by
the Catholic Church from the fourth century onward. And, during the
Ages, monasteries became the providers of medical care in many areas.
The extent of this aid was such that many who were
hostile to Catholics, from pagans to Protestant reformers and
figures such as Voltaire, all paid tribute to the Church's charitable
Woods also notes that when King Henry VIII
the monasteries in England and confiscated their properties the
loss of charitable aid led to civil uprisings in some parts. And the
of Church property during the French Revolution meant that more than a
half-century afterward, in 1847, France had 47% fewer hospitals than in
Woods concludes by affirming "So ingrained are the
that Catholicism introduced into the world that very often even
opposing it are nevertheless imbued with Christian ideals." The
Church, he continues, "did not merely contribute to Western
-- the Church built that civilization." Contemporary civilization has
itself off from this foundation more and more, Woods notes, in many
with negative consequences.