1095: “Deus vult!… God wills it!” The 1st Crusade and lessons for men today.

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.

Didn’t we just learn that, apparently, Pope St. John Paul predicted an invasion of Europe by Islam?  Plus ça change….

Pope 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 translated into our context today.  Think not only of the rise of radical Islam (yes, they want us all to die or be subjugated), but also of the rise of the “dictatorship of relativism” and the insidious – diabolical – inroads now of gender ideology and homosexualism.

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

Sometimes I suggest to men in the confessional that, particularly in their relations with women, they might try to see themselves as knights, who would rather die than sin.

Urban’s speech reminds me also of the a movie made by Protestants 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 have used the female voice’s refrain in that song as a framework for one of my conferences.  Buy the album with that song HERE, UK HERE.  The other songs are good too.  I am not much into that style of music, but this is not bad!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    My husband and I just saw “Courageous” recently. I often think of how great it would be for all Christians to see this kind of movie; it was inspiring. Netflix has a category of “Faith and Spirituality” with other movies such as this one. Yes, they have a non-Catholic flavor, but we could learn from the zeal these people have. It is a wonderful feeling to finish a movie and feel uplifted and not disgusted by immorality! (You don’t even have to spend money on Netflix. Our city library system has free video rentals, and you just check the catalogue for videos you want. I’m sure other cities must have that also.)

  2. Gus Barbarigo says:

    Pope Blessed Urban II was beatified by Pope Leo XIII. Not only did Bl. Urban II call the First Crusade, he is also known for organizing the first strong, centralized papal curia. And the phrase “Deus Vult” (attributed to him) is probably one of the most famous Latin phrases today. Will we ever see the likes of him again? Please pray that we will!



  3. Semper Gumby says:

    Pope Urban II. Deo Volente we will see someone like him again soon. And also Charles Martel, St. Pius V, King Jan Sobieski, Pope Pius XII (against the National Socialists), and St. John Paul II (against the Communists).

    These days many clergy, laity, and ‘c’atholic journalists seem to be strolling along some utopian beach, whistling leftist ditties while clad in Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts, entranced by the debris washed up by centuries of Lutheranism and a century of feminism. Meanwhile, the Faithful are rallying ’round the Rosary at the borders of Poland, restoring ad orientem worship, and resisting the diabolical anarchy left in the wake of these juvenile beachcombers who refuse to put away the foolishness of youth.

    There comes a point in the life of every institution and civilization when hard men are vital for preservation. Jesus Christ will indeed be with us unto the End of the World, whenever that may be. But this promise does not mean that we men today can be derelict in our duties or negligent in reading the signs of the times- for the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

    William Kilpatrick has something to say about all this at Crisis Magazine in an article titled: “Can the Church Recover Its Fighting Spirit?”:

    “If the Church hopes to withstand Islam’s military and cultural onslaught, it needs to recover the fighting spirit that saw it through difficult times in the past. At the risk of being branded as politically incorrect, one might even speak of a manly spirit. Although courage seems to be equally distributed between the sexes, and although the fighting spirit is not absent in women, that spirit has always been recognized as a predominantly masculine trait. Which may be one of the reasons that Christ appointed an all-male priesthood. He realized that in every age the Church would have to fight for its existence. The Church seems to be in just such a fight right now. And it makes intuitive sense that a feminized Christianity won’t fare well in the fight.”

    For those clergy and laity who seek to remake the Church of Jesus Christ into the Church of the World, note well that you will answer to God someday. For those who urge appeasement while also entertaining First-Century fantasies of bravely marching into the Coliseum to have your flesh ripped open by sharp teeth, note well that the Gospel is not a cultish suicide pact and also that God did not create us as mindless drones. For those who mock and curse the Latin Mass and masculinity, I pray that the day will not arrive when you bitterly regret their absence. For those males and females who deviously and maliciously lead flocks and families astray, may God have mercy on your souls.

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