Friday, May 31, 2013

The University & the Arts

In this graduation season, it is interesting to recall the Medieval origins of the University.  In these universities, there were four faculties -- each of which still retain their own hood colors in modern academic garb -- Arts (White), Theology (Red), Law (Purple), and Medicine (Green).  Historically, the highest degree in Arts was the Master's degree, while Law and Medicine, as today, terminated with a Doctor's degree.

File:Septem-artes-liberales Herrad-von-Landsberg Hortus-deliciarum 1180.jpg
The Seven Liberal Arts from Hortus deliciarum of Herrad von Landsberg (+1195AD)

These excerpts from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia give you an idea of the curriculum and course of study for those in the Arts faculty:
The studies leading to the Baccalaureate varied naturally with the length of time required. Those prescribed at Oxford in 1267 were as follows:

  1. The Old Logic: Porphyry, "Isagoge", the "Categoriae" and "De Interpretatione" of Aristotle, and the "Sex Principia" of Gilbert de la Porrée, twice; the Logical Works of Boethius (except "Topics", book IV), once.
  2. The New Logic: Aristotle, "Priora Analytica", "Topica", "De Sophisticis Elenchis", twice; "Posteriora Analytica", once.
  3. Grammar: Priscian, "De Constructionibus", twice; Donatus, "Barbarismus", once. Or, in place of Grammar, Natural Philosophy: Aristotle, "Physica", "De Anima", "De Generatione et Corruptione".
  4. To have "responded" "De Sophismatibus" for a year, or to have heard the "Posteriora Analytica" twice instead of once. [Anstey, "Munimenta Academica", 35, 36. Rashdall, "Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages", II, Pt. II, 455.]

The following list includes the books that were to be "read," or lectured on, by the Masters of the Faculty of Arts, at Paris in 1254. It covers the period of six or seven years from entrance, or matriculation, up to the Master's degree, and, were the "disputations" added, it might be regarded as typical of the Arts course in the medieval universities generally. A specific date was set for finishing the "reading" of each book.  
  1. Old Logic: Porphyry, "Isagoge" (Introduction to the Categoriae); Aristotle, "Categoriae" and "Perihermenia"; Boethius, "Divisiones" and "Topica," except Bk. IV.
  2. New Logic: Aristotle, "Topica," "Elenchi," "Analytica Priora," and "Analytica Posteriora."
  3. Ethics: Aristotle, "Ethica," (ad Nichomachum), four books.
  4. Metaphysics: Aristotle, "Metaphysica."
  5. Astronomy: Aristotle, "De Coelo," "Meteora," first Bk.
  6. Psychology and Natural Philosophy: Aristotle, "Physica," "De Animalibus," "De Anima," "Da Generatione," "De Causis (attributed at the time to Aristotle), "De Sensu et Sensato," "De Somno et Vigilia," "De Plantis," "De Memoria et Reminiscentia," "De Morte et Vita," Costa Ben Luca, "De Differentia Spiritus et Animae."     
  7. Grammar and Rhetoric: Priscian Major (16 books of his "Institutiones Grammaticae"), Priscian Minor (last two books of the same); Gilbert de la Porrée, "Sex Principia"; Barbarismus (third book of Donatus, "Ars Major"); Priscian, "De Accentu," (Cf. Chartularium Univ. Paris, Part I, n. 246.)

Thus, the Arts degree assumed competence in both the Trivium (the "Arts" of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric) and the Quadrivium (the "Sciences" of Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy).  I wonder how many holders of Master of Arts degrees are ready to lecture from Aristotle's Categories?

The following is a letter of Pope Gregory IX written to the University of Paris in 1231.  It makes an interesting read, giving insight into the structure and challenges of a University in the 13th century -- and a University with a papal charter, as at Paris:

"Gregory, the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his beloved sons, all the masters and students of Paris - greeting and apostolic benediction.

Paris, the mother of the sciences, like another Cariath Sepher, a city of letters, shines forth illustrious, great indeed, but concerning herself she causes greater things to be desired, full of favor for teaching and students...

...Wherefore, since we have diligently investigated the questions referred to us concerning a dissension which, through the instigation of the devil, has arisen there and greatly disturbed the university, we have decided, by the advice of our brethren, that these should be set at rest rather by precautionary measures, than by a judicial sentence.

Therefore, concerning the condition of the students and schools we have decided that the following should be observed: each chancellor, appointed hereafter at Paris, at the time of his installation, in the presence of the bishop, or at the command of the latter in the chapter at Paris - two masters of the students having been summoned for this purpose, and present on behalf of the university - shall swear that, in good faith, according to his conscience he will not receive as professors of theology and canon law any but suitable men, at a suitable place and time, according to the condition of the city and the honor and glory of those branches of learning; and he will reject all who are unworthy without respect to persons or nations. Before licensing anyone, during three months, dating from the time when the license is requested, the chancellor shall make diligent inquiries of all the masters of theology present in the city, and of all other honest and learned men through whom the truth can be ascertained, concerning the life, knowledge, capacity, purpose, purpose, prospects and other qualities needful in such persons; and after the inquiries in good faith and according to his conscience, he shall grant or deny the license to the candidate as seems fitting and expedient. The masters of theology and canon law will give true testimony on the above points. The chancellor shall swear, that, he will in no way reveal the advice of the masters, to their injury; the liberty and privileges being maintained in their full vigor for the canons of at Paris, as they were in the beginning. Moreover, the chancellor shall promise to examine in good faith the masters in medicine and arts and in the other branches, to admit only the worthy and to reject the unworthy.

In other matters, because confusion easily creeps in where there is no order, we grant to you the right of making constitutions and ordinances regulating the manner and time of lectures and disputations, the costume to be worn, the burial of the dead; and also concerning the bachelors, who are to lecture and at what hours and on what they are to lecture; and concerning the prices of the lodging or the interdiction of the same; and concerning a fit punishment for those who violate your constitutions or ordinances, by exclusion from your society. And if, perchance, the assessment of the lodgings is taken from you, or anything else is lacking, or an injury or outrageous damage, such as death or the mutilation of a limb, is inflicted on one of you; unless through a suitable admonition satisfaction is rendered within fifteen days, you may suspend your lectures until you have received full satisfaction. And if it happens that any one of you is unlawfully imprisoned, unless the injury ceases on remonstrance from you, you may, if you judge it expedient, suspend your lectures immediately.

We command, moreover, that the bishop of Paris shall so chastise the excesses of the guilty, that the honor of the students shall be preserved and evil deeds shall not remain unpunished. But in no way shall the innocent be seized on account of the guilty; nay, rather if a probable suspicion arises against anyone, he shall be detained honorably and, on giving suitable bail he shall be freed, without any exactions from the jailers. But if, perchance, such a crime has been committed that imprisonment is necessary, the bishop shall detain the criminal in his prison. The chancellor is forbidden to keep him in his prison. We also forbid holding a student for a debt contracted by another, sine this is interdicted by canonical and legitimate sanctions. Neither the bishop nor his official, nor the chancellor shall exact a pecuniary penalty for removing penalty for removing an excommunication or any other censures of any kind. Nor shall the chancellor demand from the masters who are licensed an oath, or obedience, or any pledge nor shall he receive any emolument or promise for granting a license, but be content with the above mentioned oath.

Also the vacation in summer is not to exceed one month, and the bachelors, if they wish, can continue their lectures in vacation time. Moreover, we prohibit more expressly the students from carrying weapons in the city, and the university from protecting those who disturb peace and study, And those who call themselves students but do not frequent the schools, or acknowledge any master, are in no way to enjoy the liberties of the students.

Moreover, we order that the masters in arts shall always read one lecture on Priscian, and one book after the other in regular courses. Those books on natural philosophy which for a certain reason were prohibited in a provincial council, are not t be used at Paris until they have been examined and purged of all suspicion of error. The masters and students in theology shall strive to exercise themselves laudably in the branch which they profess; they shall not show themselves philosophers but strive to become God's learned. And they shall not speak in the language of the people, confounding the sacred language with the profane. In the schools they shall dispute only on such questions as can be determined by the theological books and the writings of the holy fathers.


It is not lawful for any whatever to infringe this deed of our provision, constitution, concession, prohibition and inhibition or to act contrary to it, from rash presumption. If anyone, however, should dare attempt this , let him know that he incurs the wrath of almighty God and of the blessed Peter and Paul, his apostles.

Given at the Lateran, on the Ides of April [April 13], in the fifth year of our pontificate."
from Statutes of Gregory IX in Dana C. Munro, trans., University of Pennsylvania Translations and Reprints, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1897), Vol. II: No. 3, pp. 7-11 . cf:

The medieval period was, indeed, that of the flowering of the University.  Prior to the 12th century, only a handful had been founded: Constantinople, Bologna (1088), Paris (1150), and Oxford (1167); while the 1200s added: Cambridge (1209), Salamanca (1218), Padua (1222), Toulouse (1229), Siena (1240) [Pope John XXI taught there], Valencia (1245), Seville (1254), and Lisbon (1290), to name a few.

For more, you might note: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Universities

Live well and ever seek the truth in the noblest tradition of the University!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

King St. Ferdinand III of Castile & Leon

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Today is the Feast of the King of Castile and Leon, St. Ferdinand III.  This patron saint on Engineers brings to mind a great period of the Reconquista in Spain -- the 13th century saw the beginning of the permanent decline of Islamic power in Andalusia.

The united arms of Castile & Leon.

Spain during this period had several great kings – Alfonso IX “the slobberer” of Leon (reigned 1188-1230) ended his reign with a successful campaign, and left his realm to his son, St. Ferdinand III (reigned Castile, 1217-1252; Leon, 1230-1252), who was already king of Castile, having replaced his young uncle, Henry I (1214-1217), an eleven year-old boy and son of Alfonso VIII, the victor at Las Navas de Tolosa [Henry got hit in the head with a stone while playing, and died.  Little Henry's sisters were the mothers of Ferdinand III (Berengaria) and also St. Louis IX of France (Blanche) and the wife of James I of Aragon (Eleanor)].  This forever linked the kingdoms of Castile and Leon.  It was a rough union at first.

In Aragon, James I (1213-1276) “the Conqueror” reached his majority in 1227 – he was five and in the custody of Simon de Montfort when his father, Pedro II, died.  These two men, Ferdinand and James, would be heard from a great deal.

With the death of al-Mustansir of the Almohads in 1224, they collapsed.  Alfonso IX seized Merida (where St. James was said to have appeared and assisted) and Badajoz in 1230, opening the road to Seville – but the king died in September of 1230, and is buried at Compostella.  James I took Majorca in 1230, as well.  The birth of the Inquisition in 1231 at the command of Gregory IX is well worth noting, though this is not the fully developed institution that would later be known.  Ibn al-Ahmar (1232-1273) founded the Nasrid dynasty and the Kingdom of Granada in 1232, breaking away from the crumbling Almohad power.  In 1236, Ferdinand III captured Cordoba!  James I captured of Valencia in 1238.  Finally, Ferdinand had Seville in 1248.

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The Emirate of Granada.  This is all that remained of Islamic Spain after Las Navas de Tolosa and the campaigns of Ferdinand III and James I.

Ferdinand, it is worth noting, founded the University of Salamanca, and was also a Third Order Franciscan.

St. Ferdinand III died in 1252, succeeded as King of Castile and Leon by his son Alfonso X (1252-1284).  His daughter, Eleanor, would be the wife of Edward I "the Longshanks" of England.

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Pierre Dancart altarpiece in Seville Cathedral.

It was in the Cathedral of Seville that St. Ferdinand III would be buried (along with Christopher Columbus!).  Here is a link to the website of that Cathedral:

For more on King St. Ferdinand III:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Ferdinand III

Patron Saints Index: St. Ferdinand III

Live well!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fall of Constantinople, 1453AD

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The Siege of Constantinople.

On this day in 1453AD, the forces of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II "the Conqueror" defeated the garrison of Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI and seized the great city of Constantinople.

As the centuries past, the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire, had been greatly reduced in size.  By the 15th century, it faced crisis and final demise.  In 1448, Constantine XI (1448-1453) Palaeologus succeeded his brother John VIII (1425-1448), who had reached a union with Rome in 1439, as Emperor. For his part, Mehmed II (1451-1481) succeeded his father Murad as Ottoman Sultan a few years later in 1451.  His leadership would spell the end of the Byzantine Empire.  The union between Constantinople and Rome was announced in 1452 – just in time for the arrival of the Turkish grand army at Constantinople.  The city of Constantinople was a fortress at that time – two walls, the outer 25 feet high and 10 feet thick, the inner 40 feet tall and 20 feet thick with 60 ft. watchtowers at intervals.  The Turks, with a traitor Hungarian’s help, built a massive cannon – 27 feet long and slinging a 1,200 pound ball a mile, and requiring 60 oxen and 700 men to move it!  By March 1453, 80,000 Turks approached the Imperial city with this gun.  Emperor Constantine XI had a mere 4,983 able bodied men, and 2,000 foreigners, including allied troops, to defend the city.

File:Siege of Constantinople 1453 map-fr.svgA map of the siege of Constantinople, 6 April to 29 May 1453.

On 6 April, Mehmed II demanded surrender.  It was refused.  On 11 April, bombardment began [seven shots a day].  On 21 April, a tower fell, but the breach was repaired.  On 18 May, the Turks moved up a tower to protect men filling in the moat, but the Byzantines blew it up.  On 27 May, the cannon was finally moved to close range.  At 1:30AM on 29 May 1453, the Turks launched a massive assault.  Emperor Constantine XI, dressed in purple, led from the front.  He would disappear in the fighting.  The disaster was complete: A three day sack, 4,000 Christians killed, and 50,000 were seized and forced to pay ransom.  Constantinople, great capital of the Eastern Roman Empire was gone.  Europe was in shock.

This video presents a poignant lament of the fall of this great city, and its permanent loss to the Christian world:

Live well!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Augustine, Ethelbert, & Margaret Pole

Today, traditionally, is the feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury (+604), Apostle of England, as well as, in some places, the feast of Blessed Margaret Pole (+1541).

St. Augustine of Canterbury

Of course, the province of Briton within the Roman Empire had already received the gospel long before St. Augustine of Canterbury was sent to Evangelize by Pope St. Gregory I "the Great" (reigned 590-604).  Nevertheless, with the coming of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, the Christian population was swept west, and these Germanic peoples were in dire need of hearing the Holy Gospel.  Pope St. Gregory sent St. Augustine of Canterbury from his monastery of St. Andrew in Rome, along with a number of companions that included St. Lawrence of Canterbury, to England.  They would arrive in 597AD.

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Britain at the time of St. Augustine & St. Ethelbert.  Notice the Kingdom of Kent in the southeast -- a Kingdom of Jutes.

The kingdom to which they arrived was the Jutish Kingdom of Kent, where St. Ethelbert (+616AD) reigned as king.  St. Ethelbert was married to a Frankish wife, and was immediately receptive to the preaching of St. Augustine, though a pagan.  With his conversion, and baptism on Pentecost of 597AD, the Church won a great ally and patron, that supported St. Augustine in establishing not only the Archdiocese of Canterbury at the Kentish capital, but also the Diocese of London and that of Rochester.

When St. Augustine of Canterbury died in 604, he was succeeded by the second Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Lawrence of Canterbury (reigned, 604-619AD).

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A statue of St. Ethelbert at Canterbury Cathedral.

For more on St. Augustine of Canterbury, you should note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Augustine

Patron Saints Index: St. Augustine

Here are a couple links on St. Ethelbert:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Ethelbert

Today is also the feast of Blessed Margaret Pole, also of England, and of royal stock, but from rather later and different circumstances.

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A potrait, thought to be Blessed Margaret Pole

Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury, was the daughter of George, 1st Duke of Clarence, younger brother of King Edward IV and older brother of King Richard III -- thus, she was of royal York & Plantagenet stock.  Indeed, she had a decent claim to the throne of England -- far stronger than that of King Henry VII, whose son would order her to be executed in 1541AD.  Her mother was Isabella Neville, the daughter of the powerful Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.  She was, then, of far nobler stock than the the first Tudor on the throne!

In 1533, Henry VIII succeeded in getting Thomas Cranmer appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and he granted an annulment to Henry to put away his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to marry Anne Boleyn, which he did that same year.  Pope Clement VII, of course, denied the legitimacy of such an annulment, and Henry VIII was named "Supreme Head of the Church in England," in 1534, requiring subjects to take the oath of supremacy.  This brought down several great saints as "traitors," such as St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, in 1535.  There was further backlash, but the Pilgrimage of Grace, a rising in the north of England, met defeat in 1537.  King Henry VIII, of course, went through several wives during these years.

It was in 1541, however, that the old king finally ordered the execution of the faithful Catholic Margaret Pole, at least in part for the opposition of her son, Reginald.  It is said that it took 10 blows to finally execute her, as the axe-man was not a particularly good aim.

She would be beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886.  Her son, Reginald Pole, was a Cardinal of the Catholic Church (created a cardinal in 1537), Papal Legate to England, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and was the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, holding those posts under Queen Mary Tudor, from 1556-1558.

Here is an article on Blessed Margaret:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Blessed Margaret

Patron Saints Index: Blessed Margaret

Live well!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mercury, Venus, Jupiter: Conjunction

File:Mercury Globe-MESSENGER mosaic centered at 0degN-0degE.jpg
A composite photo of the planet Mercury taken by the probe MESSENGER.

Right now, there is a magnificent conjunction of three of the classical planets in the early evening sky -- Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter.  Of course, spotting Venus in the evening sky is little challenge, being so bright, and Jupiter is often a brilliant night-time object.  Mercury, however, is much more elusive.  Having all three together in front of the Constellation Taurus is not only rather rare, but it is truly the perfect chance to spot Mercury, as you have such excellent  points of reference to help you find it -- Venus and Jupiter!  In point of fact, the planet Mars is also in Taurus, but not visible with the other three, as it is obscured by the Sun.

Here is a map of their position in the Constellation Taurus:

File:Ecliptic path.jpg
The apparent path of the Sun through the stars -- the Ecliptic, which runs through the Constellations of the Zodiac.

Of course, the various stars in the Constellations are at rather different distances, but are grouped together as they appear from our perspective on Earth.  The Sun and the Planets appear to drift through the Constellations passing along a set of particular areas known as the Zodiac.  The Zodiac, all of which save one, Libra, picture living creatures (hence a sort of Zoo), are those Constellations through which the path of the Sun (from our perspective), the Ecliptic, passes.  While classically, 12 Constellations fit this group, technically Ophiucus should be in the list, and Scorpius has rather scant frontage along the Ecliptic.

A Conjunction refers to the time when more than one planet appear in front of the same Constellation at the same time.  Planets come into Conjunction from time to time, but it is infrequent that three of the five classical, naked-eye, planets come into Conjunction with one another.  Hence the value of this appearance!

Again, now is the perfect time to spot the planet Mercury!

This article at Sky and Telescope Magazine's webpage will tell you all you need to know:

Live well!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pope St. Gregory VII

Today is the feast of the great Hildebrand, Pope St. Gregory VII, famous for his role in the Gregorian reforms of the 11th century, and a wonderful ally of Pope St. Leo IX and St. Peter Damian in this effort.

His pontificate was consumed with the struggle against the great abuses of the era -- abuses supported by the secular leadership of the time.  St. Gregory VII was resolute in his leadership.  A bit of historical background, then.

Cardinal Hildebrand was unanimously chosen to follow Pope Alexander II, and he took the name St. Gregory VII (1073-1084) in 1073.  His was to be a momentous pontificate: he would face a stubborn Emperor – the 22 year old Henry IV (reigned 1056-1105).  Gregory fought a triple headed serpent throughout his pontificate: simony, clerical incontinence, and lay investiture.  His enemies were many, and made up the leading men of Europe: especially Emperor Henry IV.  His allies, the monks of the Cluniac monasteries, the Italian Normans, the Saxons of Germany, and countess Matilda of Tuscany – a Lombard Italian noble.  Soon after becoming pope, Gregory held a synod at Rome – Lenten Synod of 1074 – which began the battle:

"Those who have been advanced to any grade of holy orders, or to any office, through simony, that is, by the payment of money, shall hereafter have no right to officiate in the holy church. Those also who have secured churches by giving money shall certainly be deprived of them. And in the future it shall be illegal for anyone to buy or to sell [any ecclesiastical office, position, etc.].
Nor shall clergymen who are married say mass or serve the altar in any way. We decree also that if they refuse to obey our orders, or rather those of the holy fathers, the people shall refuse to receive their ministrations, in order that those who disregard the love of God and the dignity of their office may be brought to their senses through feeling the shame of the world and the reproof of the people."

[Decree of Council at Rome 1074, [Mansi XX. P. 404], in Oliver J. Thatcher, and Edgar Holmes McNeal, eds., A Source Book for Medieval History, (New York: Scribners, 1905), pp. 134-135

With regard to incontinence, often the people themselves drove out violators of the pope’s command.

The simony and investiture, however, were harder to eradicate than clerical incontinency.  The next year, 1075, Gregory held another synod, this one going after the most politically entrenched problem.  He proclaimed the deposition of anyone who was guilty of lay investiture.  The battle was set, for Henry IV (1056-1105) didn’t appreciate a papal letter urging his repentance.  Henry was a talented, but brash and immoral, young Emperor, who freely bought and sold church offices.  In December of 1075, Gregory warned and threatened the Emperor with excommunication if he didn’t reform and repent.  That Christmas 1075, while saying Mass at Santa Maria Maggiore, Gregory was attacked and kidnapped, but soon released, and he immediately returned to finish the Mass.  Henry’s reaction to the warning came in 1076, and it was to attempt to depose the pope, and send him a letter addressed to “Hildebrand, not Pope, but false monk.”  The German bishops supported their Emperor.  The dispute was clearly in earnest.  Not surprisingly, Gregory VII responded with excommunication:

"O St. Peter, chief of the apostles, incline to us, I beg, thy holy ears, and hear me thy servant whom thou has nourished from infancy, and whom, until this day, thou hast freed from the hand of the wicked, who have hated and do hate me for my faithfulness to thee. Thou, and my mistress the mother of God, and thy brother St. Paul are witnesses for me among all the saints that thy holy Roman church drew me to its helm against my will; that I had no thought of ascending thy chair through force, and that I would rather have ended my life as a pilgrim than, by secular means, to have seized thy throne . for the sake of earthly glory. And therefore I believe it to be through thy grace and not through my own deeds that it has pleased and does please thee that the Christian people, who have been especially committed to thee, should obey me. And especially to me, as thy representative and by thy favour, has the power been granted by God of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth. On the strength of this belief therefore, for the honour and security of thy church, in the name of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I withdraw, through thy power and authority, from Henry the king, son of Henry the emperor, who has risen against thy church with unheard of insolence, the rule over the whole kingdom of the Germans and over Italy. And I absolve all Christians from the bonds of the oath which they have made or shall make to him; and I forbid any one to serve him as king. For it is fitting that he who strives to lessen the honour of thy church should himself lose the honour which belongs to him. And since he has scorned to obey as a Christian, and has not returned to God whom he had deserted-holding intercourse with the excommunicated; practising manifold iniquities; spurning my commands which, as thou dost bear witness, I issued to him for his own salvation; separating himself from thy church and striving to rend it-I bind him in thy stead with the chain of the anathema. And, leaning on thee, I so bind him that the people may know and have proof that thou art Peter, and above thy rock the Son of the living God hath built His church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

 [Gregory VII, Reg. III, No. 10 a, translated in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), 376-377

Henry and Gregory at Canossa, by Carlo Emanuelle.

Gregory also released his subjects from their oaths of loyalty!  The nobles responded – meeting in October 1076, and, with the papal legates, proclaimed that Henry should present himself the next Candlemas 1077 to the Pope for judgment, and as an excommunicate, could not rule.  Henry made a memorable move – as the judgment in court would go badly for him – so he immediately went to the pope, and found him in the dead of winter at Canossa, in the Italy (Castle of Countess Matilda of Tuscany).  For three days the emperor, “in the snow, barefoot, in penitential garb, holding a candle,” sought the forgiveness of the pope.  Gregory wanted a court session, but could not refuse such a sign of repentance.  Henry IV received absolution and Holy Communion from the hand of the pope.  He promised to submit to the pope’s judgment, and allow the pontiff to come to Germany.

Henry, though, before he even left Italy, made alliances with Gregory’s enemies amongst the Lombards.  The German nobles, for their part, chose a new King of Germany: Duke Rudolph of Swabia (Claim 1077-1080).  A civil war followed, and Henry continued to trample the rights of the Church, earning him another excommunication in 1080!  This was met with Henry elevating an anti-pope from Ravenna: “Clement III” (1080-1100).  Rudolph was mortally wounded that October, and no one was left to challenge Henry in Germany.  Henry actually marched on Rome several times, and in 1084, chased the pope into refuge at Castel Sant’Angelo.  Though Robert Guiscard and the Italian Normans relieved the pope and drove Henry out, they ended up sacking the city, and Gregory was forced to flee.  He died at Salerno in May 1085: “Dilexi justitiam et odivi iniquitatem: propterea morior in exilio.  The investiture struggle was not over yet, but the end was in sight.

For more of Pope St. Gregory VII, you should note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Gregory VII

Patron Saints Index: St. Gregory VII

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The coffin of Pope St. Gregory VII in Salerno, Italy.

St. Gregory VII is buried in the Cathderal of Salerno -- here is a link to their site:

Live well!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme of Moliere & Lully

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme

In honor of the Holy Family Academy performance this evening of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Moliere, it seems fitting to post a bit about this humorous play and its wonderful musical score by Jean-Baptiste Lully.

Moliere was born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in Paris, France in 1622, receiving a rigorous education from the Jesuit College of Clermont.  Turning from a career in law or government service, as his father urged, he took the stage name of Moliere and pursued theatre.  He would rise to some fame and prominence, becoming a court playwright to King Louis XIV of France, the “Sun King.”


Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme was first performed in 1670, and was accompanied by a musical score written by the accomplished composer Jean-Baptiste Lully.  Here is a clip of a selection of this music by Lully:

In this play, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, or the “Would-be Gentleman,” a successful but foolish tradesman – a bourgeois – dreams of being a noble gentleman.  In an effort to “climb the social ladder,” Mr. Jourdain employs many masters to teach him their various arts.  In these efforts, he is, in particular, preparing himself to meet the lovely Marchioness Dorimene.  Jourdain believes that the impoverished Count Dorante, his friend, has been courting her on his behalf, and gladly lends him large amounts of money.  Little does he know that Dorante has actually been courting Dorimene for himself.  Monsieur Jourdain, in the end, has made himself up into such a fool in his attempts to be a gentleman of quality that even the servant, Nicole, cannot stop laughing!
Meanwhile, Mr. Jourdain’s daughter, the beautiful Lucile, has fallen in love with an honest man of means, Cleonte, who asks for her hand in marriage.  Mr. Jourdain refuses him on the grounds that he is not from nobility.  This infuriates Madam Jourdain, who is the lady of the house.  Coveille, the resourceful servant of Cleonte, has a plan, however, to solve all their problems and put Mr. Jourdain in his place -- Cleonte will imitate a Turkish noble and promise Jourdain not only a noble son-in-law, but a title for himself.

                Moliere would die shortly after, in 1673AD, in Paris.

What a display ofculture and artistry was on display in the court of Louis XIV.

Live well!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

St. Christopher Magallanes & the Cristeros

[Saint Cristobal Magallanes Jara]
Today is a recent feast added to the calendar: St. Christopher Magallanes, priest, and his companions, martyrs.  St. Christopher was executed without trial in 1927 during the savage persecution of the Mexican government of Plutarco Calles.

From 1915-1937 twenty-one priests and three laymen have been canonized after having been martyred by the Mexican government.

For more on St. Christopher, specifically, please note:
Patron Saints Index: St. Christopher Magallanes

In the 1924 election Plutarco Calles (President, 1924-1928), of Sonora, would be elected President of Mexico.  He improved the lot of the army and catered favor with the labor organization, in other words, he “institutionalized the Mexican Revolution.”  He also stepped up the redistribution of private property, including American oil land, in 1925, and made war on the Church, enforcing the anti-clerical 1917 constitution, as well, in 1926.  Church land was seized, foreign priests were exiled, Catholic schools closed, no foreign investments were permitted, and state legislatures determined the number of priests allowed to minister.  The Bishops responded by closing the churches, and some Mexicans resisted with force of arms: the Cristeros – with their great cry of Viva Cristo Rey!  Blessed Miguel Pro (+1927) is perhaps the most famous martyr of this rising.  Pope Pius XI wrote a very strong encyclical denouncing the situation – Iniquis Afflictisque – in 1926.  By 1927 relations actually soured between the US & Mexico dramatically – American Catholics, such as the Bishop Francis Kelley (Bishop from 1924-1948) of Oklahoma City-Tulsa who wrote Blood Drenched Altars protested the persecution of the Church, and business leaders protested the other moves.  US Ambassador Dwight Morrow used some diplomacy to try to ease the situation, and after the assassination of the re-elected puppet of Calles, Obregón, the interim President, Emilio Portes Gil (1928-1930), agreed to cease enforcement in 1929.  [The damage was done, however – sources note that by the mid-1930s, 17 states lacked priests, and there were but 334 priests total for 15 million people]

Here is a link to the Papal Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Iniquis Afflictisque:

Finally, of course, recently a film was released on the subject of the Cristeros War, For Greater Glory.  Here is a link on that film:

We must certainly ever remain vigilant for the tyranny and dictatorship of secularism!

Live well!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Martyrs of Otranto

This last Sunday, Pope Francis canonized a group of over 800 15th-century Italian martyrs who died for their Catholic Faith at the hands of Ottoman raiders outside the town of Otranto, Italy.  Officially, they are St. Antonio Primaldo and his companions.

These Turks were those of Mehmet II (reigned 1451-1481), the Ottoman sultan that seized Constantinople in 1453 and met defeat at Belgrade in 1456.

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Otranto seen from the castle.

Right at the end of the reign of Mehmet, in 1480, a naval raiding party of Turks attacked the city of Otranto in the heal of Italy.  After seizing the town, the Islamic raiding party offered the men of the town the choice of Islam or death.  With Antonio Primaldo speaking on their behalf, the men choice Christ, and the martyr's death.

For more information, you might note:

and in Italian:

Here is a link to the article about the canonization:

Speaking of these martyrs, at their Canonization, Pope Francis noted:
"Today, he said, 'the Church proposes for our veneration a host of martyrs, who were called together to the supreme witness to the Gospel.' The more than 800 Martyrs of Otranto, when faced with the choice of renouncing Christ or death, remained faithful to the Gospel. It is precisely their faith, the Pope said, that gave them the strength to remain faithful. He prayed, 'As we venerate the martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain those many Christians who, in these times and in many parts of the world, right now, still suffer violence, and give them the courage and fidelity to respond to evil with good.'"

Their feast day is 14 August.

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The facade of the Cathedral of Otranto, where the martyrs are dramatically housed.

A number of the martyrs are, rather dramatically, housed behind the altar of the Cathedral of Otranto, as pictured below.  The following site, the official of the city, features the cathedral:

File:Otranto cathedral martyrs.jpg
The high altar of the Cathedral of Otranto, along with the city's martyrs.

What we are now, they once were.  What they are now -- bones and dust -- we shall soon be.  Are we prepared for death?  Go to confession.

Live well so as to die well!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

150th of the Death of "Stonewall" Jackson

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Portrait of Stonewall Jackson by J. W. King, 1864AD.

Yesterday, 10 May, marked the 150th Anniversary of the death of Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.  Jackson was the most trusted lieutenant of General Robert E. Lee, and a bold commander who was famous for his tremendous part in the victories of the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, the Second Battle of Manassas, and the Battle of Chancellorsville, amongst others.

Jackson was born in Clarksburg, Virginia (now in the state of West Virginia) on 21 January 1821.  He had a difficult childhood, with his father dying in 1826, and his mother died in 1831 after remarrying.  In the end, the poorly educated Jackson was accepted by West Point in 1842, launching his military career.

Thomas Jackson's first service was in the Mexican-American War, where he would meet Robert E. Lee.  Jackson's initiative earned his two brevet promotions.  After the war, in 1851, Jackson accepted a post at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.  Though certainly competent, his manner was not so popular, and he was dubbed "Tom Fool" by his students.  He was married in 1853, but his wife died from complications from delivering a stillborn child the next year.  Jackson would marry a second time in 1857 to Mary Anna Morrison.

Statue of Stonewall Jackson at Manassas National Battlefield in Virginia.

With the secession of Virginia and outbreak of hostilities in 1861, Thomas Jackson would take command of a brigade of volunteers from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia -- to be known as the Stonewall Brigade.  Of course, it would be on 21 July 1861, when the brigades of Bee and Bartow were collapsing in the first phase of the First Battle of Manassas that Jackson received his nickname.  Jackson's Brigade became a rally point for the other Confederate units, and General Bee is quoted as saying: "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!"  The name would stick for both man and brigade.

In the Spring of 1862, Jackson successfully defeated parts of three Union armies in the Shenandoah Valley to not only protect "the breadbasket of the Confederacy" but tie up a host of troops that might have otherwise assisted McClellan's drive for Richmond.  Jackson's performance that summer during the Seven Days' Battles where less impressive.

The summer of 1862 saw Jackson take a corps behind the Union army and contribute to the great victory at the Second Battle of Manassas.  Antietam and Fredericksburg would follow with him demonstrating himself as a trusted and competent lieutenant to Robert E. Lee as one of the corps commanders of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

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A photo taken of Jackson the month before his death.  26 April 1863.

The spring of 1863 would be his last -- but his 10 mile flank march around the Union Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Chancellorsville was a brilliant stroke that defeated an army that outnumbered the Southern force 2 to 1.  Tragically, on the evening of 2 May 1863, while scouting beyond his own lines, Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men upon his return.  He would lose his left arm, and, with pneumonia setting in, die on 10 May 1863 in Caroline County, Virginia.

The House where Jackson died in Guinea Station, Caroline County, Virginia.

Jackson was a zealous man of a deep Presbyterian belief and his devotion to religion as he knew it was unquestionable.  He is quoted as saying, when asked about he calm on the battlefield: "My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. ... That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave."

He is buried in Lexington, Virginia.

The Friday before Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior Day, is Lee-Jackson day in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

For a few Stonewall Jackson resources, note these sites:
From VMI where he taught:

From the house and museum dedicated to him:

The website of Chancellorsville Battlefield where he was wounded:

Finally, the site of the "Stonewall Jackson Shrine," the site of his death:

Live well!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rogation Days

The three days leading up to the great feast of Ascension Thursday are, traditionally, the Rogation Days, or Lesser Litanies.

The Old Catholic Encyclopedia notes: "The "Litania Minor", or "Gallicana", on the Rogation Days before Ascension, was introduced (477) by St. Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, on account of the earthquakes and other calamities then prevalent. It was prescribed for the whole of Frankish Gaul, in 511, by the Council of Orléans (can. xxvii). For Rome it was ordered by Leo III, in 799."

These three days of particular prayer and supplication are similar, but unrelated to, the Greater Litanies of St. Mark's Day, 25 April, that originated not from France, but from Italy and Rome.  These are days of litanies and processions in earnest prayer for freedom from natural disaster and a successful growing season.

The Fish Eater's site has an excellent summation of the Rogation Days:

They note that, "The liturgy for the Rogation Days, during which the priest is vested in purple, begins with Psalm 43:26 --"Arise, O Lord, help us and redeem us for Thy name's sake" -- which is followed by the Litany of the Saints (you can download this Litany, in Microsoft Word .doc format, in English or in Latin). At the Litany's "Sancta Maria," all stand and a procession begins, which in older times was (and still is in rural areas) usually around the boundaries of the parish, giving to the procession the name of "beating the bounds.""

The Golden Legend of Blessed Jacobus de Voragine, a 13th century book of the Lives of the Saints, describes the Procession of the Rogation Days thus:
"And in this procession the Cross is borne, the clocks and the bells be sounded and rung, the banners be borne, and in some churches a dragon with a great tail is borne. And aid and help is demanded of all Saints.

And the cause why the Cross is borne and the bells rung is for to make the evil spirits afraid and to flee; for like as the kings have in battles tokens and signs-royal, as their trumpets and banners, right so the King of Heaven perdurable hath His signs militant in the Church. He hath bells for business and for trumps, He hath the Cross for banners. And like as a tyrant and a malefactor should much doubt when he shall hear the business and trumps of a mighty king in his land, and shall see his banners, in like wise the enemies, the evil spirits that be in the region of the air, doubt much when they hear the trumpets of God which be the bells rung, and when they see the banners borne on high. And this is the cause why the bells be rung when it thundereth, and when great tempests and outrages of weather happen, to the end that the fiends and the evil spirits should be abashed and flee, and cease of the moving of tempests. Howbeit also that there is another cause therewith; that is for to warn the Christian people, that they put them in devotion and in prayer, for to pray God that the tempest may cease.

There is also the banner of the King, that is the Cross, which the enemies dread much and doubt. For they dread the staff with which they have been hurt. And this is the reason wherefore in some churches in the time of tempest and of thunder, they set out the Cross against the tempest to the end that the wicked spirits see the banner of the sovereign King, and for dread thereof they flee. And therefore in procession the Cross is borne, and the bells rung for to chase and hunt away the fiends being in the air, and to the end that they leave to tempest us. The Cross is borne for to represent the victory of the Resurrection, and of the Ascension of Jesu Christ. For He ascended into Heaven with all a great prey. And thus this banner that flyeth in the air signifieth Jesu Christ ascending into Heaven.

And as the people follow the Cross, the banners, and the procession, right so when Jesu Christ styed up into Heaven a great multitude of Saints followed Him. And the song that is sung in the procession signifieth the song of angels and the praisings that came against Jesu Christ and conducted and conveyed Him to Heaven where is great joy and melody.

In some churches, and in especial in them of France, is accustomed to bear a dragon with a long tail filled full of chaff or other thing. The two first days it is borne before the Cross, and on the third day they bear it after the Cross, with the tail all void, by which is understood that the first day tofore the law, or the second under the law, the devil reigned in the world, and on the third day, of grace, by the Passion of Jesu Christ, he was put out of his realm

Here is a site with some details of the particular liturgies of the Rogation Days:

May we well prepare for the coming Feast of the Ascension, and pray earnestly for a successful growing season, freedom from calamity, and perhaps, in light of recent news, for a healthy stock of honey bees!

Live well!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Donald Roebling

File:Donald Roebling.jpg
Donald Roebling (1908-1959)

Donald Roebling is, indeed, not a household name these days.  Born of a New York family that included the designer of Brooklyn Bridge (his grandfather, Washington A. Roebling), Roebling actually attended boarding school at the Stuyvesant School in Warrenton, Virginia for his high school years (class of 1926).  Incidentally, the school was founded by a Mr. Edwin King that was a direct descendant of another New Yorker, the famous Dutchman Peter Stuyvesant.

Donald Roebling, some years after his high school graduation, was inspired to design a machine that could operate on both land and sea.  His desire came from a wish to assist hurricane victims, as he had been living in Florida.

The result of his work was, however, a vehicle that caught the attention of the US Marine Corps, and would become known as the LVT -- Landing Vehicle, Tracked.  He had called it the alligator.

This website gives a splendid overview of the vehicle:

Donald Roebling ended up a rather roundabout Marine Corps hero, with his invention being constructed by the thousand for the amphibious assaults of World War II.

His home in Clearwater, Florida, is on the register of historic places.  The rotund Roebling died in 1959 in the wake of Gall Bladder surgery.

Today, there is a Roebling Street in Warrenton, Virginia, near the site of his old high school alma mater (now St. John the Evangelist Parish and School).

Here is a Time article on Mr. Roebling:,9171,884754,00.html

This link goes to a lengthy work on Roebling's Amphibian:

With acknowledgements to Mr. John Toler, whose article in the May 2013 issue of Warrenton Living brought Donald Roebling to his attention and provided a number of details mentioned in this post.

Live well!

Friday, May 3, 2013

150th of Chancellorsville: Second Fredericksburg

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The Battle of Chancellorsville by Kurtz and Allison.

Today is the 150th Anniversary of the third day of significant fighting during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia -- the day a beaten US General Hooker decided that the Corps left in Falmouth had to save his army!

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L: CS Gen Robert E. Lee   Center: US Gen Joseph Hooker  Right: US Gen. John Sedgwick

The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under Robert E. Lee, having dealt a shocking blow to the Union Army of the Potomac on the previous day remained outnumbered some 40,000 to the Northern 70,000 in the area of Chancellorsville.  Cavalry Commander CS General J.E.B. Stuart took command of the Corps of the fallen Stonewall Jackson, and attempted to keep up the pressure on the Union host.  The morning of 3 May, US General Hooker was actually wounded when a cannonball struck the pillar that he was leaning on in the front of the Chancellorsville mansion.  It was symbolic of the blow that had been dealt to his confidence.  Rather than use his superiority of numbers and take the fight to Lee's army, Hooker would turn to the VI Corps left at Falmouth for relief.

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Map of the action at Chancellorsville, Afternoon, 3 May 1863.  Attribution: Map by Hal Jespersen,

The Union VI Corps under the command of US General John Sedgwick would overwhelm the division of CS General Jubal Early left at Fredericksburg -- an action known as the "second Battle of Fredericksburg" that 3 May 1863, but would be halted in its advance towards Chancellorsville in the area of the Salem Church by the division of CS General McLaws.

That would end the hostilities.  Hooker was a beaten man.  The Army of the Potomac would linger, but ultimately the battle was over.  Outnumbered 2 to 1, Robert E. Lee had stopped, defeated, and sent back the Union army.  It had cost him 13,000 men, including the invaluable Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.  The Union army, having lost 17,000 men, was dealt yet another terrible defeat.  It would soon receive a new commanding officer.

As he had in the wake of the victory at Second Manassas in 1862, General Lee would use the momentum of Chancellorsville to take the war North.  With the return of the troops of CS General James Longstreet, Lee would set out for Pennsylvania in the weeks to come...

For more on the battle you might note:
National Park Service Battle Description

Civil War Trust Chancellorsville Page

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

Live well!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

150th of Chancellorsville: Jackson's Flank Attack

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The Battle of Chancellorsville by Kurtz and Allison.

Today is the 150th Anniversary of the second day of significant fighting during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia -- the day of Stonewall Jackson's momentous flank march around the Union Army!

File:Robert Edward Lee.jpgFile:Joseph Hooker - Brady-Handy--restored.jpgFile:Stonewall Jackson.jpg
L: CS Gen Robert E. Lee   Center: US Gen Joseph Hooker  Right: CS Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, 66,000, under Robert E. Lee, on the morning of 2 May 1863, found a Union army west of Fredericksburg, centered at a crossroads in the "Wilderness" called Chancellorsville. This Union Army of the Potomac commanded by US Major General Joseph Hooker, and numbering 133,000 men, had crossed the Rappahannock River to Lee's west, and planted itself behind Lee.  After initial success in pushing towards Fredericksburg from Chancellorsville, Hooker had lost his nerve, and had his forces fall back to Chancellorsville and dig in (though the units in what was the rear of the army failed to do so).  Lee had split his already outnumbered army, leaving a holding force at Fredericksburg, to confront Hooker's initial advance.  With the change of initiative on 1 May 1863, Lee would make good use of it on this day, 2 May, and would, audaciously divide his army once again.  Outnumbered 2 to 1, and dividing your army twice in the face of the enemy is a bold move, indeed!
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Map of the action at Chancellorsville, 2 May 1863.  Attribution: Map by Hal Jespersen,

Leaving the divisions of Anderson and McLaws just east of Chancellorsville to confront the main portion of the Army of the Potomac, Lee ordered Jackson to take three divisions (21,000-28,000 men) and march around the flank of the Union army -- a march they began that morning, so that they were in position to strike the Union rear soon before dusk.  Jackson's march was nearly discovered when the III Corps of Sickles extended the Union right flank.  It was the XI Corps of US General Oliver O. Howard that bore the brunt of Jackson's attack.  This corps, seemingly at the rear of the army and farthest from harm, was caught totally unprepared and was pushed several miles east towards the Chancellorsville crossroads.  It was pockets of stubborn defense and eventually nightfall the stalled the Confederate advance.

It was that evening of 2 May 1863 that Stonewall Jackson, personally investigating the location of the Union lines, and riding beyond his own pickets, was accidentally shot by his own men as he returned.  Jackson would lose an arm, and would never recover from the wounds, dying in nearby Caroline County, Virginia on 10 May 1863 of Pneumonia.

The Union army was stunned, but not actually destroyed.  The I Corps arrive that night, and 3 May 1863 would dawn with a Union force of 76,000 men "surrounded" by a Confederate army of 43,000 deprived of Jackson.  The Army of the Potomac was still an extremely powerful force, if General Hooker had the will to use it.  What of the forces left back at Falmouth & Fredericksburg?  That we will address tomorrow.
For more on the battle you might note:
National Park Service Battle Description

Civil War Trust Chancellorsville Page

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

Historical Marker at the site of Jackson's Attack

Live well!