This day in 1095

On this day in 1095 Pope Urban II made a speech.

The setting was the Council of Clermont in France.

Urban, indeed all of Europe, was alarmed at the aggression of the Turks in the East, who had taken the Holy Land and were invading the Eastern Roman Empire.  Urban therefore addressed the Council asking them to help their Christian brethren in the East.  As Robert the Monk recorded, Urban put it, apparently, this way: “Deus vult!… God wills it!”

Thus began the First Crusade.

In another version of Urban’s history-shaping speech recorded by one Fulcher of Chartres, Urban also addressed corruption in the Church.  According to Fulcher, thus Urban:

Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago. Let those who for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians. Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor.

Not a bad sentiment, when removed from its context and separated from some the the racial rhetoric common to the day.

Perhaps it would be good for Catholic men to see themselves as knights.

In one parish I know a zealous priest, Fr. Richard Heilman, started a men’s group called The Knights of Divine Mercy.  He has even written a “field manual” for Catholic men.  We belong to the Church militant after all. Book HERE Kindle HERE.  I gave a talk to this men’s group not too long ago.  They are doing good things.  They also have a group for boys called the Squires of Divine Mercy.

Urban’s speech and Fr. Heilman’s efforts also remind me of the good movie called Courageous (USA BlueRay+DVD HERE.  Just DVD HERE. UK DVD HERE.  Yes, I think the concepts will “translate” for readers in the UK.) about some men who band together and decide they will make a special commitment, to each other and to God, to be better men, better husbands, and better fathers.  The pastor who witnesses the vows the men make says this:

“I also have a warning for each of you.  Now that you know what you are to do, and have committed to do it before God and these witnesses, you are doubly accountable.  Let me also assure you, that you may have confidence in this resolution and your resolve now, because as you stand here there’s no challenge, no controversy, and no conflict.  But I can assure you that challenges will arise, conflicts will arise, and controversy will arise. It is at that moment that, in order to live our this resolution, you will need courage… courage… courage.”

This is what we need from our fathers in the family and in the Faith.  When I heard that in the movie I thought that that speech could be one of the best parts of the admonition a bishop is supposed to give to the men he will ordain priests.

Anyway, today in 1095 Pope Urban made a speech.


I use the female voice’s refrain as a framework for one of my conference talks.  Buy the album with that song HERE, UK HERE.  The other songs are good too.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    For us ladies out in this harsh world without a protector, this post is timely.

  2. JARay says:

    I belong to a Catholic society of men. It is called “The Catenians” and there are branches (called Circles) in various parts of the world. It sees itself as a brotherhood of Catholic men. We even refer to each other as “Brother”. It began in response to a former Bishop of Salford’s idea to get Catholic businessmen to band togther for mutal support in both a spiritual sense and also in a business sense. The Catenians are just over 100 years old and, as I say above, the idea has spread but only amongst those countries which form part of the British Commonwealth, although there are no Circles in Canada and the latest Circles have been set up in Goa which perhaps is not exactly in the Commonwealth.

  3. Well, I am, at least from a materiel standpoint, reasonably well equipped, having:

    • two (2) U.S. Naval Officer’s swords, unsharpened, mine and my father-in-law’s,
    • one (1) U.S. Naval cutlass, pattern of 1917, unsharpened, and
    • one (1) Scottish claidhmor, unsharpened (as if that mattered to any opponent)

    Hmmmm? Perhaps I should consider the acquisition of a short sword or rapier, in either case accompanied, natürlich, by a main gauche (i.e., parrying dagger). I shall have to consider the question.

    Pax (or bellum, should conditions deteriorate) et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  4. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:


    I’m as well equipped as I ever expect to be: I have my family, my Catholic faith, my Rosary, my Missal and reasonably near access to the Sacraments.

  5. cregduff says:

    Thank you for the book recommendation – just picked it up in Kindle edition.

    Noticed that it is published by “Deus Vult Press.” Well done, Fr. Heilman!

  6. acardnal says:

    Onward Christian soldiers!

  7. avecrux says:

    Our whole family went to see “Courageous” together. (father, mother, 5 daughters,1 son)
    My daughters and I openly wept during the closing scene when the father of the family asks who will rise to face various challenges and declares repeatedly “I will!” We are not weepy people, my girls and I – not at all. It just touched us at such a very, very deep level as women to hear men stepping up to protect and provide. Almost like the groanings of the Holy Spirit. Utterly cathartic. One of those experiences where you have just encountered truth.

  8. fvhale says:

    My wife and I just watched “Courageous” on DVD last night, and it is a wonderful film. I also recommend the related film “Fireproof” which provides a vision for Christian marriage (and an alternative to the culture of divorce).

    Sadly, the media in general (television, films, cartoons) are filled with “men” either clueless losers (e.g. Homer Simpson), or vengeful automatons wreaking violence. In either case, the images of men almost never depict a man with any sense of the meaning of a man’s life in God. I do love the RAI films distributed by Ignatius which give some examples of men and women, clerical and lay, who have lived holy lives.

  9. jfk03 says:

    Then in 1205 (110 years after Pope Urban’s speech), some “knights” from western Europe sacked the Christian city of Constantinople on their way to the Holy Land. They razed churches and pilfered relics. The Holy Icon of the Theotokos of Nikopeia ended up in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, just one of many stolen art treasures.

    The Christian East has not forgotten this sacrilege. Let us all pray for forgiveness, so that the injustices 1,000 years past may not get in the way of Pope Benedict’s current efforts to heal the Great Schism.

  10. Pingback: This day in 1095 | Fr. Z's Blog – What Does The Prayer Really Say? | Nail It To The Cross

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