The Catholic Southern Front

Chapter 9/54 – The Roman Pontiffs

pope-francis-wears-a-sheep

Is it a truth that which the Latin Church proclaims? Do the Roman Pontiffs head a legitimate office, instituted by Jesus Christ Himself? Or rather, is the Holy See at the Vatican City in Rome, the Roman Catholic Church and Curia together with its leader Peter, a religious organization whose sole mission is to spread ignorance and bigotry? For such are the unshameful claims of the many varied secret fraternal societies and enemies of Christianity. As very well expressed by Oswiu, King of Northumbria, at the Synod of Whitby, England in 664 he imperatively desired to stand by “the Roman Keybearer,”(1) the Roman Pontiffs are, indeed, the undisputed leaders of the Faith of the Christian Church, as established by Jesus Christ the Son of God and Messiah, two thousand years ago! The Evangelist Matthew narrates the following: ““But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in Heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven”” (Matthew 16:15). Many put in doubt the authority of the Magisterium of the Church, questioning the Pontiff’s authority, true worth, leadership and teachings. In so doing they reject the founder, Jesus Christ Himself and His Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If Saint Matthew the Evangelist has failed to convince such stubborn schismatics with his scriptural and biblical words, then let the work of the Roman Pontiffs speak for itself.

The Popes, or the Papas, have succeeded at steering the Faith through twenty centuries of humanity’s political turmoil and social development. The very fact that the Roman Catholic Church survived the two thousand years of persecution, proves beyond any shadow of doubt, the authenticity of Matthew’s quote and Our Lord’s most solemn pledge, “…And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

A quick view at some figures and statistics regarding the Roman Pontiffs particularly elucidates the Evangelist’s 2000-year-old scriptural quote. If one includes Saint Peter and the present Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, we are left with a total of 264 Roman Pontiffs. They all experienced troubles, conflicts and lived in times of peace and war. All without fail contributed to the Church and its growth. During the course of the centuries most, if not all, worked on the conversion to Christianity of the various races of mankind. Why? Because Jesus Christ desired so, that all would come to comprehend the truth, be baptized and eventually receive salvation. This was their primary mandate. After death, the Pontiffs left behind their legacy and contribution, all succeeded at passing on the Seat of Peter to their successor. The very fact that Pope Benedict XVI is with us and is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church today, was not a light accomplishment and did not come easy, for many Roman Pontiffs have fulfilled their obligations at the cost of their own lives.

Out of a total number of 264 Popes, 24 were martyred for the Faith in those early Roman persecutions. The 33rd Pontiff, Pope Saint Sylvester was fortunate to witness Emperor Constantine’s victory and the formation of the Edict of Milan, which offered the long awaited freedom of worship. The fact that Pope Sylvester was the ‘33rd Pontiff,’ might possibly represent symbolically the 33 years Our Lord domiciled on Earth. Following the Edict of Milan and the institution of the freedom of worship, the Papas or the ‘Petri Apostoli Potestatem Accipens,’ were faithful to Christ unto death. Apart from the 24 martyred Pontiffs; assassinated Popes amount to 4; 4 also are the ones who died in prison; 10 were the ones who were confirmed of having been poisoned. The final estimate shows that a total of 42 Roman Catholic Pontiffs have been killed for being faithful to Jesus Christ. But this is not the end of the story manifesting the enmity between the race of God and that of Belial.

The figures are disturbing for Catholics and reveal the nature of their witness to the truth of Jesus Christ and the indefatigable assaults of the Dragon/Devil; 62 Pontiffs were persecuted and forcefully opposed, in one form or another, by Emperors and Kings; 51 Popes were imprisoned, banished from Rome or exiled during their pontificate; 27 Pontiffs had severe internal political interference from powerful families such as Barons and Counts. At one point in history, the political interference was so great that they were forced to move out of Rome and seek refuge for 70 years in Avignon, France. Most Popes combated all kinds of heresies, apostasies and schisms. Also, most Pontiffs had to live with the knowledge that many of their followers, at times entire populations, were massacred during barbaric atrocities and wars. The present Pontiff lives with the knowledge that approximately 1,250,000 (state monitored and recorded) abortions are carried out yearly in the United States of America alone.

This text would not be complete if the wars by Rome in defense of the Faith and commissioned by the Roman Pontiffs were not given due mention. In years 352 to 366, Pope Liberius laid the foundations of Saint Mary Major. During Pope Saint Innocent I’s (401-417) pontificate, Alaric and his Goths sacked Rome. Alaric died a few weeks following the sack of Rome. This same Pope persuaded Honourius to cease and prohibit gladiatorial contests. In the years 432-440, Pope Saint Sixtus III, enlarged the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Pope Saint Leo I (440-461) prevented Attila, otherwise referred to as the ‘scourge of God,’ from sacking Rome. Pope Saint Leo I was assisted by the apparitions of Saints Peter and Paul, who with flaming swords threatened Attila never to return. Pope Leo also mitigated Genseric the Vandal’s sack of Rome. During his reign Pope Anastasius II (496-49  baptized the Merovingian King Clovis. From years 498 to 514 reigned Pope Saint Symmachus, who ransomed all slaves giving them freedom, a forerunner of the Order of Mercy or Mercidarians. During Pope Saint Hormidas’ pontificate (514-523) Saint Benedict smashed the statue of Apollo and consecrated the Monte Cassino Hill to Saint John the Baptist, establishing the Benedictine Order. Pope Saint John 1 (523-526) died in prison during the Barbaric invasion of King Theodore. Pope Saint Agapitus (535-536) was killed in Constantinople, Turkey on April 22, on the eve of Saint George’s solemnity who was martyred in Nikomedia, Turkey. Pope Saint Silverius (536-537) reigned during the invasions of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and his General Belisarius; the Pope was forced to renounce the Papacy and was killed in exile. During Pope John IIIs pontificate, the Lombards invaded the Byzantine province of Rome. Pope John II rallied the Italians against their invaders. During this period, the Italians were quite capable of defeating the invading German Lombards. Again, during the pontificate of Pope Pelagius II (579-590) the Lombards invaded and besieged Rome, following Pope Pelagius’ II plea for assistance, Constantinople sent forces to repel the Lombards. From the years 590 to 604, during Pope Saint Gregory’s pontificate, there occurred Saint Michael’s apparition on Hadrian’s tomb, Castel Sant’Angelo.

Around the years 608-615, the Pontiff Saint Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon, built to commemorate Marcus Agrippa’s triumphs in war, to the Blessed Virgin and the Martyrs who conquered eternal life. In 619, Pope Boniface V was elected one year late, due to the wars for the Italian crown and during his pontificate Mohammed began his preaching. In 640, Pope Severinus was elected and he had to endure the sacking of Saint John’s Lateran by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. During the years 649-655, there occurred Pope Saint Martin I pontificate who initiated the celebrations of the solemnity of the Immaculate Virgin, the Pontiff was exiled on the Island of Cherso, where he died on the morrow of the future Feast commemorating Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15. Finally Pope Saint Vitalian (657-672) witnessed the conversion of the Lombards to Christianity in 671. Pope Saint Benedict II (684-685) re-instated the Privilege of Sanctuary, whereby ‘one is safe from his enemies in a church,’ a privilege that was grossly unobserved, as fighting and duels were carried out also in churches. Pope John VI (701-705) ransomed many slaves from the Saracens. Due to the threats by the Lombards and Saracens, Pope Sisinnius (708-70  restored the walls of Rome. Pope Constantine (708-715) elected on the Feast Day of the Annunciation of Saint Gabriel March 25, encouraged greatly the defense of Spain against the invading Saracens and called for war, against his will he was carried off to Constantinople and to him is attributed the brief peace between Rome and Byzantium.

Pope Saint Gregory II (715-731) encouraged and preached an Italian war against Emperor Leo III the Iconoclast, this Pope died on February 11, future Feast Day commemorating Our Lady of Lourdes. Pope Saint Gregory III (731-741) sought the help of Charles Martel (the hammer) the French Mayor of the Palace, to expel the Lombard menace which kept harassing Rome. Charles Martel earned the title of ‘Most Christian.’ The first investiture of a sovereign by a Roman Pontiff, occurred during Pope Saint Zachary’s pontificate (741-752). Saint Zachary anointed Pepin the Short (Charles Martel’s son) and Charles the Great (Charles Martel’s grandson) thereby, initiating the French Carolingian Dynasty.

Pope Adrian I (772-795) restored the walls of Rome due to his fear of future possible invasions. Pope Saint Leo III (795-816) endorsed Charles the Great’s campaigns in Spain, against the Saracens and crowned Charles as Holy Emperor in Christmas of the year 800, reconstituting the ancient Holy Roman Empire. Pope Gregory IV (827-844) had to experience the intrigues caused by the children and grand children of Charles the Great, which divided the French Kingdom. He assembled an army under the command of the Duke of Tuscany, which defeated the Saracens in five battles in Africa; however, on landing in Italy the army needed to be forcefully restrained preventing a sack of Rome. Pope Sergius II (844-847) witnessed the siege of the Saracens in Rome, whereby the sack of San Paolo Fuori le Mura (St Paul Outside the Walls) and other churches took place. The Saracens were finally defeated at Gaeta. Pope Saint Leo IV (847-855) reinforced the walls around Vatican Hill and the Tiber River. Pope Saint Leo IV was victorious at the famous naval Battle of Ostia. This Pontiff brought forward the coalition of the mariner cities of Naples, Gaeta and Amalfi into a league commanded by the son the Neapolitan Duke Sergius I. The Battle of Ostia took place in 849, between the Papal Fleet commanded by Ceserius, against the hordes of Saracens. This was a victory for Christendom and was immortalized in Raphael’s famous fresco, in the Rooms of the Vatican Palace at the Vatican City. This Pope was known for having stopped a raging fire in the Roman Anglo-Saxon district by making the sign of the Cross. Pope Saint Leo IV died on July 17, 855, future solemnity of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pope Benedict III (855-85  tried to unite differing factions who were in discord against the Saracens. The pontificate of Pope Saint Nicholas I (858-867) began with the ‘good’ start of the election of the Pontiff occurring on the morrow of Saint George’s Feast. Together with Emperor Louis II the Pontiff formed an army against the Saracens. Pope Saint Nicholas I is the Roman Pontiff who chose the date of August 15 as the commemorating Feast Day for the Assumption. The following Pontiff Pope Adrian II (867-872) anointed the English Monarch, King Saint Alfred the Great, who was victorious against the waves of invading Vikings in England. Pope John VIII (872-882) was instrumental at sending missionaries to convert the Slavs, he was assisted by the Emperors at driving the Saracens out of Italy, however, the Pope was the main force for the action. He stated: “All our coasts have been plundered, and the Saracens are as much at home in Fundi and Terracina as in Africa.”(1) Himself personally adopting the roles of a General and an Admiral, defeating the Saracens at Terracina and in 876 defeated a squadron of pirate Saracens, off the coast of Circe. He strengthened the walls of Rome and Saint Paul Outside the Walls. The Saracens referred to Rome as: “The city of that old dotard Peter.”(2) The Pope lost at least one battle where he had to pay a large tribute, however, kept warring against the Saracens unto his death, on December 16, 882. This Pontiff was in search of an ideal Emperor; he did not successfully discover one. Following the success of King Alfred the Great in England, against the Vikings at the Battle of Ethandune of 878, it is not clear how come this candidate was not deemed appropriate and fitting the cause. If it were so that King Alfred was anointed Holy Roman Emperor, he would have had great logistical difficulties at protecting both England and the continent. Rebuilding England and ruling a Holy Empire, with the underlying fine print of protecting the Pope and the Papal States, apart from the rest of Christendom, was no easy feat.

Pope John X (914-92  brought about a coalition of Italian leaders, one of which he crowned as Emperor (Berengarius of Friuli King of the Lombards). Pope John X led this coalition against the Saracens, who had camped and built fortresses on the River Garigliano, the border between present Lazio and Campagnia, Italy. The River Garigliano was in those days referred to as the ‘River Verde’ and formed the southern border of the Papal States. Skirmishes occurred in Lazio, the Christians gained the upper hand, while they experienced definite victories at Campo Baccano, on the Via Cassia, at Tivoli and Vicovaro. The Saracens left for their fortified towers at Garigliano, where a protracted siege began in June of 915. Due to want of food and provisions and following many attacks, the Saracens were desperate to flee. During August 915, on their way to the coast, the enemy was captured and executed.

Pope Leo VI was elected in the year 928; he was successful in war against the Saracens and the Hungarians, who were not as yet converted. Pope Gregory VI (1045-1046) led his army against the invaders and to this particular Pontiff is attributed the establishment of the first Pontifical Army. Pope Saint Gregory VII (1073-1085) had the most awful time with a certain King Henry of Germany. The King desired to be proclaimed Emperor by the Roman Pontiff. The Pope refused; therefore the King schemed to elect an anti-pope to have himself proclaimed Emperor. He marched onto Italy with his army and battled a certain Countess Matilda and her men. She organized the defenses of Rome and Henry’s army suffered a lack of provisions in winter and malaria in summer. The siege of Rome was abandoned, however, Henry managed nonetheless, to corrupt certain Roman officials and his army gained entry into the city. In Rome he elected his anti-pope, who proclaimed him ‘Emperor.’ Robert Guiscard, the ruler of the Norman Kingdom at the South of Italy, intervened for the Pope and retook Rome expelling Henry’s forces. Henry could still challenge and threaten Rome, this time Pope Gregory was accompanied by Matilda’s men to Robert’s Kingdom, in the South. Pope Gregory VI died at Salerno, after having received the Viaticum from Saint Hugh of Cluny. Matilda went on to win an astounding victory against the German Emperor imposter.

Pope Blessed Urban II (1088-1099) preached for the First Crusade and introduced the Truce of God, which was a brief pause during battle, were the soldiery carry off their dead from the battlefield. During these times, the ‘Just War Theory’ and ‘Penitential Warfare’ were well preached. Pope Paschal II (1099-111  passed the Bull for the establishment of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John the Baptist in Jerusalem. This Pontiff built the Church Saint Mary of the People in Rome. Pope Calixtus II (1119-1124) proclaimed the Second Crusade, which would actually come underway, five pontificates later under Pope Blessed Eugene III (1145-1153). During the pontificate of Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) there occurred the victory by way of the famous ‘Caroccio of Saint Ambrose.’ The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who was holy no more, brought his Germanic forces against the Lombard League and the Papacy. The conflicts between the Guelphs in favor of the Pope and the Ghibellines, for the Emperor, lasted a century. At the Battle of Legnano (May 29, 1176) the Imperial forces of Barbarossa, were finally defeated by the Lombard League. The Carroccio was a large cart resembling a modern day’s carnival float, decorated with the Cross of Saint Ambrose. The company of death led by Alberto da Giussano, spearheaded the defense, which turned into an assault, whereby Frederick Barbarossa was wounded and thought killed. His company was discouraged and fled the battle scene. The Emperor negotiated a peace settlement and never attempted to invade the Alps again, he died during the Third Crusade in Syria. The Battle of Legnano is well known, for in the Middle Ages, it was the first major victory where infantry prevailed over feudal cavalry. The battle revealed the tactical superiority of mixed armies of infantry and cavalry. During this pontificate, Saint Thomas Becket was martyred at Canterbury, in England.

Pope Urban III (1185-1187) died of sorrow when the Saracens took possession of Jerusalem. Pope Clement III (1187-1191) proclaimed the Third Crusade, Richard the Lion Heart participated to this Crusade. Pope Celestine III (1191-119  approved the Military and Hospitaller Order of the Germanic Teutonic Knights. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) proclaimed the Fourth Crusade. Together with Andrew II of Hungary, Pope Honourius III (1216-1227) organized the Fifth Crusade. Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241) initiated the ‘Holy Inquisition’ and prepared for the Sixth Crusade. Pope Innocent IV (1243-1254) who instituted the solemnity of the Visitation, undertook the Fifth Crusade with Saint Louis IX, King of France. Pope Nicholas IV was the first Franciscan Pope (1288-1292), together with the Genoese; he formed an army against the Saracens. Pope Innocent VI (1352-1362) built a fortified wall around Avignon for defense purposes. Pope Nicholas V (1447-1455) aided the Spaniards in the final phase at reclaiming their land back from the Saracens.

Pope Calixtus III – Alfonso Borgia – (1455-145  stated emphatically: “I, Pope Calixtus, vow to Almighty God and the Holy Trinity, that by war, maledictions, interdicts, excommunications, and all other means in my power I will pursue the Turks, the most cruel foes of the Christian name.”(3) During the Siege of Mirandola in 1511, Pope Julius II was miraculously spared sure death by Our Lady who saved him from the cannonade. A cannon ball blasted in the direction of the Pontiff is preserved at the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto.  Pope Adrian VI (1522-1523) resisted the Turks without success. Pope Pius IV (1560-1565) lived just enough time to learn that the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottoman Empire failed thanks to the brave Knights of Saint John consisting of French, Spaniards, Italians, English, Germans, Rhodians and Maltese civilians. Pope Saint Pius V (1566-1572) was the lead organizer for the Catholic League, which won the great naval Battle of Lepanto, against the Ottoman Empire. Pope Blessed Innocent XI (1676-1689) urged King Jan Sobieski, against the Ottoman Turks at Vienna. This Pope instituted the Feast Day commemorating the Holy Name of Mary. Pope Alexander VIII (1689-1691) aided King Jan Sobieski and the Venetians in their battles against the Ottomans. Pope Innocent XIII (1721-1724) sent 100.000 crowns to the Knights of Malta, to fund their Mediterranean policing against the Berber and Saracen corsairs and to harass the Ottoman shipping. Pope Clement XII (1730-1740) was a Pope who refrained from siding and interfering in battles and wars, however, this was the first Pope who stood firm against the looming modern monster of Freemasonry. He excommunicated all who were members of the sect.

Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846) had his Papal States protected by the Holy Alliance of Austria, Prussia and Russia. Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) was the Pontiff whose pontificate endured the First World War, while Pope Pius XII (1939-195  was Pontiff throughout the Second World War. Pope Pius XII strongly opposed Socialist Marxism and the persecutions it caused. He proclaimed the Dogma of the Assumption of Our Lady. Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) who witnessed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, survived the assassination attempt on his life on May 13, 1982, by a Turkish assassin engaged by the Bulgarian or Russian KGB. Pope John Paul II survived miraculously on the Feast Day commemorating the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. He personally attributed the miraculous intervention of Our Lady at saving his life. When the Russian Communist leader Joseph Stalin, sarcastically inquired on the number of divisions the Pope had at his disposal, the reply was ‘None.’ The truth was that Joseph Stalin might not have been fully aware of Our Lady’s intercessory help, the fact that she is the Queen of Angels did not trouble him then, in the least. One wonders how come the leader of the Russian Nation, ignored his own country’s history, especially the events related to the Russian miraculous Icons and Our Lady’s intercessory aid at forging the Russian people.

Joseph Stalin was wrong on a second count, for the Pope maintains a private army of one hundred men called the Swiss Guard and a troop of bodyguards from the Office of the Vigilanza. Originally the Swiss Guard were Swiss-German mercenaries, referred to as the Switzers and in the 1500s, were notorious for their ferocity and bravery. Pope Julius II chose the Switzers as personal guards in 1506. In 1527 Emperor Charles V sent 1,000 troops against the Pope in Rome. The Switzers fought bravely and although numbered 150, they slew 800 of their opponents and themselves suffered 108 dead. The battle occurred before Saint Peter’s Basilica and continued right up the stairs of the Pontifical High Altar. Pope Clement VII escaped to Castel Sant’Angelo. Today, the Swiss Guard comprises of men who are well trained in Karate and carry weapons in well-concealed boxes, not far from reach, but hidden from the public. They train for two hours daily and are considered to be excellent marksmen.

 

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