The Catholic Southern Front

Chapter 9/10 – The Birth of European Royalty

CROWN OF THORNS

The Blessed Virgin Mary interceded for the conversion of the Longobard Kingdom in Italy and the conversion of the Gothic (Germanic Visigoths and Ostrogoths) Kingdoms of France and Spain. Our Lady was instrumental for the birth of the Merovingian and Carolingian Royal French and German Kingdoms and the protection of the European Continent from the Cordoban invasion of 732.

The King of Gaul, Chlodweg or Clovis, who lived in the years 465-511, was King of the Salian Franks in Tournai, France. Clovis was a pagan and viewed the Roman Catholic Faith suspiciously. Rome had converted to the Faith a century earlier and the King’s opinion was that the Christian God had not protected Rome from the barbarian invasions of the Huns, the Goths and the Vandals. Having said that, pagan Clovis showed certain signs of justice, which although savage and crude, indicated his future fate. On one occasion in 482 his soldiers were pillaging churches and confiscated a vase described by Saint Gregory of Tours as “…of marvelous size and beauty,” it was kept by one of the king’s soldiers. The saint asked Clovis to return the vase, an agreement which was accorded. However, the soldier seeing that the vase was not to remain his own, lifted up a battleaxe and smashed it. Clovis returned the pieces to Gregory. A year later as the king was reviewing his troops, he commented to the same soldier, that his weapons were not in good condition and whilst saying this he threw the soldier’s weapon on the ground. As the soldier picked his weapon, Clovis smashed his skull saying: “Thus did you do to the vase.”(1) In the 490s the king-witnessed miracles occurring at Saint Martin of Tours’ tomb, which greatly influenced him, however he remained pagan. The king wedded a Catholic woman by the name of Clotilda, who lovingly defended her Faith. Unfortunately, Clovis regarded Christian beliefs as legends and fantastical stories. When a child born to them died a few days following baptism, Clovis became ever more suspicious. With the invasions of the Vandals and Visigoths, the king’s opinion changed. Clovis was on the verge of suffering a great defeat and in a last act of desperation he raised his hands in the air and prayed aloud: “Jesus, if you really are the Son of God, as my wife tells me, grant me victory and I will believe in you.” (2) At that moment the contingent of Visigoths were confronted with a heavenly apparition and terrified of this vision, they fled. The Christian God succeeded at delivering France from her enemies, while the pagan gods failed. Clovis honored the God of Rome, the Christian God. Following the miraculous intervention, the King of the Salian Franks kept his pledge and Bishop Remigius instructed him in the Faith. On December 25, 496, together with 3,000 of his warriors, Clovis received the sacrament of Baptism in the Cathedral of Rheims. The Cathedral was spectacularly decorated, befitting a King. On hearing the chanting of the psalms, Clovis inquired whether the Kingdom of Heaven had come. Bishop Remigius replied that it was the beginning of the way to it. The Byzantine Emperor granted King Clovis the title of ‘Protector of the Holy Roman Faith.’ In 496, Our Lady presented Clovis with her pledge of protection. At the Council of Trent, the French bishops clearly stated that during his Baptism, Clovis beheld in vision the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Lady presented him with a lily as a sign of blessing and also a shield covered with the sign of the fleur-de-lys. The lily, and fleur-de-lys, represents the Virgin’s virtues of purity. The supernatural grace of God was at work, as together with Clovis, 3,000  warriors had agreed to cast away their gods to adopt the Christian God whom they had previously resisted. The factor which made them change their minds regarding their gods was clearly the understanding that it was the Christian God who had given them an extraordinary victory. The cathedral was so packed, that Bishop Remigius could not pass through the crowd. When the cleric who had to bring the anointing oil was not successful at walking through the warrior crowd, Saint Remigius witnessed a dove descending with a phial of oil in its beak. The Bishop utilized this oil for anointing and it was still used in 1824 for the coronation of Charles X. In battle Clovis carried a banner covered in toads. Following his conversion, the image of the toads was never again used and his standards bore Our Lady’s fleur-de-lys. Clovis was the first of a line of Kings known as the Merovingians and the use of the lily in the heraldry of French Kingship has its origins with him and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 507, the Visigoth King Alaric was defeated and slain by Clovis. Alaric died a few weeks following the sack of Rome. In the years 586-601, the Visigoths were themselves converted to Christianity as the sons of their king converted to the Faith. The first son to convert, Saint Hermenigeld was martyred on order of his own Arian father. His gruesome martyrdom occurred in jail, as the saint knelt, his father’s messenger chopped his head in half. Saint Gregory attributed the conversion of Saint Hermenigeld’s brother, King Recarred, to Hermenigeld’s sacrifice. In 589, removing the shekels of Arianism, the Visigothic King Recarred declared himself and Spain ‘Christian.’ In 586, King Recarred established a Cathedral in Toledo and consecrated it to Santa Maria.

In the seventh century the Longobards, originating from the territory occupied by Germany and Austria, descended into Italy. In 663, Emperor Constans II left Constantinople and sailed to Italy, he landed in Taranto and devastated Apulia. The Emperor besieged the City of Benevento, which was under the command of Romuald, the son of the Longobard King Grimoald. Commander Romuald, realizing that Benevento was on the verge of being conquered by the Emperor’s forces, made up his mind to lift the gates and die fighting. The Longobards were a pagan race and previous to the invasion, the Catholic Bishop Barbato had attempted assiduously, yet in vain, to convert the pagans to the Faith. As the Emperor’s troops were preparing to take over Benevento, Bishop Barbato addressed Romauld a final time. The Bishop pledged Romuald that if paganism was abandoned and their race converted to the Christianity, turning with faith to the Creator, “…to Him who humbles and exalts, He who destroys wars”(3) and sing in praise of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, addressing their prayers to Him and promising to serve Him, He would free them from their oppressors. Romuald replied that if that were the case, he would abolish the idols of his race and serve the Catholic God. On receiving Romauld’s pledge Saint Barbato left for the church, there he begged the Mother of God to be the mediator to her Son and end the war. On returning the bishop informed Romuald that; on being delivered if he were to forfeit his pledge, worse calamities would strike the Longobards. Bishop Barbato also informed Romauld that the Byzantine Emperor would return back to his country. The Blessed Virgin appeared on the bastions of the city and the following day, Emperor Constans II, who had threatened to burn the city to the ground and refused large treasures to abandon the siege, now left silently away from the walls of Benevento. Romuald and his Longobards converted to Christianity and amongst them paganism was abolished.

During the eight century the descendents of King Clovis, the Merovingian Kings of France, were referred to as the ‘do nothing kings.’ The Merovingians left the ruling and running of the country’s affairs in the hands of powerful mayors. However, previous to the dynastic change of royal families, from the Merovingian Dynasty to the Carolingian, there appeared on the scene a certain Saint Arnulf. Arnulf hailed from a Christian French family, received a good education and later, while employed at court, showed competence in both military and civil capacities. He wedded and had two sons. His wife died and so did the bishop of Metz. For a long time now, Arnulf had longed to devout his life to God, and he was made bishop and tutor of the young Merovingian King, Dagobert. Arnulf later retired as a hermit in the mountains. Saint Arnulf became the granddad of Pepin of Herstal. Pepin of Herstal or Pepin II was Mayor of the Palace from 680 to 714. During this time he increased the power of the Merovingian King against Neustria, and invited Saint Wilibrod from England, who in turn founded missions and schools in today’s Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and Germany. Saint Wilibrod was made bishop for these areas.

Charles Martel was the son of the Mayor Pepin II and at the age of twenty-six, was cast into prison by Plectrude, a woman who desired her own grand son of six years to become heir to the French throne. As Plectrude’s government crumbled beneath the attacks of the Neustrians, Charles escaped from his prison. In a series of battles, he defeated the Neustrians and eventually forced Plectrude to hand over his father’s wealth. He then proclaimed the Merovingian Clotaire IV as King of Austrasia, reserving for himself the title of ‘Mayor of the Palace.’ Charles defended Austrasia from the invading Saxons and himself invaded Friesland. He invited Saint Boniface, who evangelized Germany. The Mayor succeeded at re-establishing the Frankish Empire of Gaul and Germany. At Rio Barbate in 711, King Roderick the Visigoth King of Spain, fell to the Southern Moors. This led to seven long centuries of Moorish conflicts, till their final defeat at Granada in 1492. In 721, Duke Eudes or Odo of Aquitane, had banished the Moors at the Battle of Toulouse. They re-organized their forces and returned in 725, reaching deep into the continent as far as Burgundy.

The English historian and member of Parliament, Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) wrote that: “A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of Gibraltar in Spain to the banks of the Loire in France; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian Fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the River Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Qur’an would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Muhammed.”(4) The Moorish Governor of Spain, Abdul Rahman Al-Ghafiqi, crossed the Pyrenees and invaded Loire where he met Charles in battle. In 732, Charles Martel and the Blessed Virgin halted the invading army of the Cordoban Emirate. Known as the Battle of Poitiers or the Battle of Tours, this was a crucial and decisive moment in the development of the European Christian civilization. The outcome secured Christianity in the region and prevented the Islamic takeover of the entire European Continent. Edward Gibbon’s hypothesis was thankfully prevented from turning into reality, however, England today seems threatened in like manner as never before.

October is the month dedicated to Our Lady’s Holy Rosary, within which are celebrated the modern Feast Days of ‘Our Lady of the Holy Rosary’ (October 7), ‘Our Lady’s Maternity’ (October 11), ‘Our Lady of the Pillar’ (October 12) and the last apparition of ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ (October 13). The Battle took place on October 10, 732, in the proximity of Tours and Poitiers in France. Previous to battle, Charles undertook certain preparations, which included the erection of numerous altars for the celebration of the Holy Mass and the supplication of the intercession of Our Lord and his Holy Mother for victory. In defense against the onslaught of the Moorish army, the Franks formed a large square formation. The Cordoban horsemen galloped towards Charles Martel’s forces. As the battle raged, Abdul Rahman Al-Ghafiqi was slain, the Moors left the battlefield a day later, abandoning their tents and allowing the army of Gaul to recapture the loot. The translation of the Arabic medieval chronicle, Isidore of Beja’s Chronicle, states, “…and in the shock of the battle the men of the North seemed like North a sea that cannot be moved. Firmly they stood, one close to another, forming as it were a bulwark of ice; and with great blows of their swords they hewed down the Arabs. Drawn up in a band around their chief, the people of the Austrasians carried all before them. Their tireless hands drove their swords down to the breasts (of the foe).”(5) The Moorish invasion was directed towards the Church of Saint Martin and the City of Tours, however failed miserably at achieving its objective at founding a Cordoban base. The outcome resulted in 300,000 fallen Moors, as opposed to 1,500  Franks. While Charles protected the Faith, he seems to have been unable to protect the Pope against an army of invading Lombards (Austrian-Germans). His grandson, Charles the Great, gave the reason that Charles Martel was already suffering from a fatal illness and was therefore physically unable to defend the Pope. In a vision Saint Eucher saw Charles Martel in hell, he was accused of robbing the Church of its property, which he used to repay his war-allies. On the other hand, Saint Boniface said that without Charles’ protection, he could have not been able to carry out his apostolic mission in Germany and owes much of his work to the Frankish King. Charles died on October 22, 741, and was buried in Saint-Denis Basilica in Paris, leaving his kingdom to his two sons, Pepin the Short and Carloman. Charles Martel was the progenitor of the Carolingian line of French Kings, who replaced the ‘do nothing’ Merovingians. The menace in 732 was arrested and an Islamic army would never penetrate so deeply into the Christian continent from this direction again. Interestingly, the Merovingians might have apostatized into heresy as at least a few of these kings worshipped two opposed divinities, one of good and the other of evil and represented by a star similar to the Judaic Star of David.

Charles Martel’s son, Pepin the Short inherited the title of ‘Mayor of the Palace.’ Pepin’s Catholic education implanted a notion, the concept that rulership was a sacred trust bestowed by God upon a man who could act as His steward. In 751, Pepin sent envoys to Pope Zacharias, inquiring whether it was right that a man who exercised no political power, could have the title of king? As the Pope replied that this was not right, the last Merovingian was taken to a monastery where the following year, he died. Saint Boniface anointed Pepin the Short as the new King of France. Now began the Carolingian Dynasty. Either Pope Zacharias or Pope Stephen II, anointed Pepin. Certain historical records show that Pope Stephen II visited France in 754 and personally anointed Pepin. Pepin the Short died in 768. Pepin enlarged the Papal States, increasing papal security against the Lombard invaders.

In the following centuries, the idea of a ruler being appointed by God was the cause of much abuse and kingly self-righteousness. In the work by Diane Moczar ‘Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know,’ the author elucidates that the proper view to this would be to understand Pope Saint Gregory’s explanation; that the family of Catholic nations has as their true head the Vicar of Christ, none other than the Pope in Rome. God did not bestow temporal power directly upon rulers as a divine right. God placed His sacred trust upon the ruler, however, it was the job of the Pope to assess whether they upheld their moral obligations and if necessary declare them deposed and release their subjects from obedience to them. Interestingly, in our modern world, do the heads of Catholic (let alone Christian) states acknowledge the Vicar of Christ on Earth, as the true head of their nations? The separation of ‘Church and State’ testifies to the world’s choice of abandoning the Christian God, replacing Him with the ‘Grand Architect of the Universe’ or ‘the Prince of this world.’ The followers of the latter were the ones who have historically implanted in the minds of many history students, the notion that the ancient kings viewed themselves as ‘Divenly appointed,’ in so doing justifying their every evil action. This is unfortunately true but does not justify the revolutionaries slogan, vow and infamous curse, “Death to Royalty and the Pope.”

 

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