Category Archives: History

Lepanto A Poem by GK Chesterton

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Naval Battle of Lepanto 1571: A battle for the heart of Europe against the invading Ottoman Empire fleet. It was fought by the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic states led by Don John of Austria.

Excerpts from Lepanto:

Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still–hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships…

Viva Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

GK Chesterton

For the full poem click here. 

St. Maximillian Kolby: Priest, Missionary, Auschwitz Prisoner and Martyr

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“The most deadly poison of our time is indifference.”

 St. Maximillian Kolbe

It was a summer day and the camp prisoners were standing in front of their Nazi guards in disbelief against such inhuman cruelty. They all stood until the last of ten prisoners was chosen to suffer death by starvation. No barbarian is content with the blood they wanted more. They want it to teach a lesson to those who would try to escape.

The sentence was pronounced and like a piercing thunder aloud cried erupted from one of the condemned:

 “O my poor wife, my poor children. I shall never see them again.”

At that moment, a flood of mercy rushed into his Heart, all his life was for this moment. As a child, he asked the Virgin Mary what would be of him. She responded by showing him two crowns, one white and the other one red. She tenderly asked him if he was willing to accept either one of them. The white one meant that he should persevere in purity and the red one that he should become a martyr. He chose both.

Long time later, that child now barely resembling a grown human being due to the scourge of hard labor and inhuman mistreatment slowly walk to the prison guards and said:

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“My name is Maximillian Kolby”.

“I am a polish catholic priest and I want to take this man place.”

Prisoner 16670 said calmly as he offered his life for the family man. What thoughts must have passed through the SS officer? Could such act of love have broken through his soul and lifted the clouds of darkness?

They tried to take their humanity away, but instead fervently and loud prayers; hymns and the rosary met their inhumanity. The starvation bunkers were not longer and instruments of death, but one of redemption. In imitation of Christ, they turned those starvation bunkers from a sign of despair and extreme human cruelty into a sign of Faith, Hope and Charity. They turn their cross into an instrument of love.

St. Maximillian Kolby pray for us!


This was a fictionalized re-creation of what happen based on witness account. To learn more about this great saint please visit:

Catholic resource:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/kolbe2.htm

Non-Catholic resource:

http://moralheroes.org/maximilian-kolbe

Laborare est orate (Five Contributions of the Benedictine Monks to Western Civilization)

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Today July 11,  is the feast day of the St. Benedict, patron saint of Europe. Here is a list of five hastily collected contributions of the Benedictine monks to Western Civilization.

The motto of the Benedictine monk is “laborare est orare” which translates “to work is to pray” and they worked…

1. Agriculture

Many of the Europe farmlands once were marshes or swamps that were very difficult to cultivate. However, when a monastery was established in the area the monks took it upon themselves to turn barren lands into productive farmlands.

2. Education

Benedictine monks not only pioneered many forms of agriculture, but also instructed the rest of the population in the newly developed agricultural techniques during the middle and late Middle Ages. Dr. Woods noted in his book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization:

“…every Benedictine monastery was an agricultural college for the whole region in which it was located.”

This provided an incalculable benefit for the populations surrounding the monasteries.

Monastery were not only center for agriculture, but for education and development of the arts. Thanks to Benedictine monks the Carolingian minuscule was established as the new standard for writing. This is perhaps one of the most important advancement of the early Middle Ages because it provided a universal standard way to write manuscripts that more people could understand. For example, it introduced spaces between words, lower case letters and punctuation. This allows easier writing and reading, which in turn served as a catalyst for education.

3. Industries

They fomented Ireland’s Salmon fisheries, corn commerce in Sweden and cheese making in Italy. They also improved cattle breeding and production of wine.

4. Architecture

They contributed to the medieval church architecture. Directed spring waters to Paris and expanded the use of waterpower devises throughout Europe.

5. Inventions

First modern clock (996 AD), Glider (1200 AD), advanced furnaces for the production of metals among many other inventions.

There are many other contributions of the Benedictine monks to Western Civilization. They provided healthcare, food, education and support to the arts to the surrounding population. Preserved cultural identity against Barbarian invasions. It is a understatment that Europe owes progress and survival to the humble Benedicine monks…it is such a pitty that they ignored, nay abandoned  such contributions at the foundation of the European Union Constitution, more on that in future muses…

St. Benedict, pray for us!

Reference: I hastily composed this post thanks to the great post by Oblates Spring, upon which I drow most of the information presented here.

http://oblatespring.blogspot.com/2010/07/benedictine-contributions-to-world.html

Proud to be an American

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The Unanimous Declaration of the
Thirteen United States of America
In Congress, July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops
among us;

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses;

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

WE, THEREFORE, the REPRESENTATIVES of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

[Signed by] JOHN HANCOCK [President]
New Hampshire
JOSIAH BARTLETT,
WM. WHIPPLE,
MATTHEW THORNTON.

Massachusetts Bay
SAML. ADAMS,
JOHN ADAMS,
ROBT. TREAT PAINE,
ELBRIDGE GERRY

Rhode Island
STEP. HOPKINS,
WILLIAM ELLERY.

Connecticut
ROGER SHERMAN,
SAM’EL HUNTINGTON,
WM. WILLIAMS,
OLIVER WOLCOTT.

New York
WM. FLOYD,
PHIL. LIVINGSTON,
FRANS. LEWIS,
LEWIS MORRIS.

New Jersey
RICHD. STOCKTON,
JNO. WITHERSPOON,
FRAS. HOPKINSON,
JOHN HART,
ABRA. CLARK.

Pennsylvania
ROBT. MORRIS
BENJAMIN RUSH,
BENJA. FRANKLIN,
JOHN MORTON,
GEO. CLYMER,
JAS. SMITH,
GEO. TAYLOR,
JAMES WILSON,
GEO. ROSS.

Delaware
CAESAR RODNEY,
GEO. READ,
THO. M’KEAN.

Maryland
SAMUEL CHASE,
WM. PACA,
THOS. STONE,
CHARLES CARROLL
of Carrollton.

Virginia
GEORGE WYTHE,
RICHARD HENRY LEE,
TH. JEFFERSON,
BENJA. HARRISON,
THS. NELSON, JR.,
FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE,
CARTER BRAXTON.

North Carolina
WM. HOOPER,
JOSEPH HEWES,
JOHN PENN.

South Carolina
EDWARD RUTLEDGE,
THOS. HAYWARD, JUNR.,
THOMAS LYNCH, JUNR.,
ARTHUR MIDDLETON.

Georgia
BUTTON GWINNETT,
LYMAN HALL,
GEO. WALTON.

D-Day: Eisenhower Address to Troops

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944 ! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground.

Our Home Fronts have given us an superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your devotion to duty and skill in battle.
We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Source and other videos:  Army Youtube Page

D-Day: June 6, 1944

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Tomorrow, June 6, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. It can be easy to trivialize events in history with dates and numbers as time passes and those whose memories of the events are still fresh in the minds pass on to their heavenly reward. It is therefore up to us, the next generation, that should not only honor their sacrifices by remembering their courage but also by keeping alive the values and virtues that made that generation the greatest generation of Americans.

Here are some facts about D-Day*:

1. D-day marked the first time that an invading army crossed the English Channel since 1688 when a Dutch fleet was on its way to invade England. It also marked the largest amphibious operation in history. More than 150,000 men and about 30,000 vehicles crossed the channel; about half of these brave men were Americans.

2. “D” stands for day of the invasion, which was supposed to be June 5, 1944 but inclement weather forced the Allies to postpone to June 6, 1944.

3. Operation Overlord is the military Codename for the Allied invasion of Europe. The amphibian assault component of the invasion started on D-day and was codenamed Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune consisted of almost 7,000 vessels that supported the amphibian invasion.

4. Operation Pointblank was designed to achieve aerial superiority during the invasion by crippling Germany air force through bombardment.

5. Operation Bodyguard  was an elaborate operation designed to prevent the Germans from learning the Allied plans for the invasion.  The Germans had about 55 divisions ready to meet and repel the expected Allied invasion. It was an intelligence coup to keep the plans for Operation Overlord under wrap since the Allied forces could only land about 8 divisions during the first wave. Note Operation Fortitude was part of the larger Operation Bodyguard.

6. In the months preceding D-Day Allied forces lost about 12,000 men and over 2,000 aircraft in various military operations that made possible the invasion of Normandy

7. According to the US National D-Day Foundation the total personnel killed on D-Day was 4,413. That is 2,499 American fatalities and 1,914 from other Allied nations. This is a much higher estimate than the generally accepted estimate of about 2,500.

8. About 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles landed in Normandy supporting the efforts to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany.

9. D-Day was a logistical coup. It took millions of men and woman in Allied countries to help prepare for the invasion.

10. According to the Veteran’s Administration there are only 1.2 million WWII veterans remaining from the 16 million who bravely served during WWII. It is sobering to learn that it is estimated that they are dying at a rate of more than 550 a day.

 God Bless our veterans and this great Country of ours.

*I obtained many of the facts listed above from the following sources:

The National WWII Museum
PBS’s American Experience
The History Channel
Awesome Stories

Also for more information visit the excellent blog: Pacific Paratrooper. If you are inspired and have the opportunity I highly recommend you to visit the D-day Museum in New Orleans.