Category Archives: History


Brother Francis has a tremendous appreciation for the history of the Church. He likes to call Church history “the laboratory of wisdom.” Why? Because the history of the Church is the history of human salvation, and choosing the best means to save one’s soul is the highest prudence. And prudence, says St. Thomas Aquinas, is wisdom in action.

History is the laboratory of wisdom, but the application today of the lessons learned from history is prudence.

How, for example, are we to understand what St. Pius X meant when he said that “modernism is the synthesis of all heresies,” if we are ignorant of the history of the Church’s battles against heresy? How are we to evaluate the causes of what Pope Benedict referred to a “crisis of Faith,” if we unfamiliar with any of the twenty ecumenical councils that preceded Vatican II?

There are twenty-two books of the Bible that are history books: the first nineteen of the Old Testament, the two books of Machabees, which end the Old Testament, and the Acts of the Apostles in the New.

A knowledge of Church History is a knowledge of the life of the Body of Christ extended in time throughout the past twenty centuries. It is a glorious history, with its martyrs, confessors, saints of the desert, great doctors and popes, apostles of nations, proliferation of contemplative orders, active orders, teaching orders, advances in science, medicine, the arts, missionary life, and victories over the enemies of true religion, who engaged her by pen and sword.

Without a knowledge of history, of its facts, dates, and events, a Catholic is ill-prepared to defend the Church against those who would gainsay her by misrepresentation, misinformation, or deliberate disinformation. Nor can we forget that we all have an obligation to instruct the ignorant who have been misled by error and who, in their hearts, nurture an affinity for the truth.

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Missionaries and Laotian Martyrs Soon to Be Beatified

Vatican Insider: The small communist south-east Asian nation of Laos will have its very own martyrs, possibly within just a few months. Two parallel processes have begun for a group of religious, missionaries and lay people which have been split down the middle: the missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate (OMI), Mario Borzaga and the Laotian catechist Paul Thoj Xyooj killed in 1960 on the one hand … More →

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Prolific Pope Leo XIII Published Riddles Anonymously — in Latin

Catholic News Service: Going by the pseudonym “X,” Pope Leo XIII anonymously crafted poetic puzzles in Latin for a Roman periodical at the turn of the 19th century. The pope created lengthy riddles, known as “charades,” in Latin in which readers had to guess a rebus-like answer from two or more words that together formed the syllables of a new word. Eight of his puzzles were … More →

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An Unexpected Request for Alms in a Southern Harbor: Hilaire Belloc Under Sail in Palma of Majorca

While recently on the ocean-seacoast island of my boyhood home, I decided to read again amidst the inspiring cool sea breezes my own fragile first edition of Hilaire Belloc’s 1908 collection of essays, entitled On Nothing and Kindred Subjects, which was dedicated to his friend Maurice Baring who was not yet, but almost, a Catholic. In this Anthology, I have especially wanted to consider our … More →

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God Prevented Apostate Emperor’s Attempt to Rebuild Temple

Stephen Beale, Catholic Exchange: After Constantine the Great, there were emperors who were heretics and emperors who adhered to Christian orthodoxy. Then there was Julian the Apostate. From the time of Constantine to the French Revolution, he is the only Christian monarch ever to openly reject the faith, according to Catholic historian Warren Carroll. For reasons both personal and intellectual, Julian launched the last great … More →

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The Passion of Spain Comes to an End

(Rorate Caeli) Exactly 75 years ago, the arms silenced in Spain at the end of almost three years of war, and almost a decade of intermittent grave persecution of the Church which reached its zenith in 1936. The greatest persecution of Catholics since late Antiquity, Spaniards condemned as reactionaries by their fellow citizens, had taken place in the territory retained by the Communist-inspired forces, and … More →

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1989: 1000 ‘Russian Orthodox’ Priests Surfaced as Ukrainian Catholics?

This information, incredible as it seems, was revealed this past week by Father Andriy Chirovsky, pastor of St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in Tucson and founder of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario. Here is a clip from Catholic News Service: After Blessed John Paul II met with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev Dec. 1, 1989, … More →

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What Is Christendom?

The question posed by the title of this article was asked several of us by our august editor. Its immediacy is reinforced by the season of Christmas – which, despite being under sporadic attack by “holiday” partisans, centers on the one Holy Day still observed by the majority of the world. Despite the anti-Christian moral tone of many of “her” governments around the world, the … More →

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More on the Battle of Warsaw / General Fuller’s Insights

While recently reading some of G.K. Chesterton’s written reflections in 19271 shortly after his return from his invited April-May visit to Poland, and then also some of his more abiding insights about the plight and character of Poland almost a decade later, in his posthumously published autobiography in 1936, I thought to bring to the further appreciation of a modern audience, by way of sobering … More →

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Hope of the Half-Defeated

Especially after witnessing my German wife’s unlooked-for response very late the other night while (and moreso after) I read aloud to her for the first time G.K. Chesterton’s short essay, “Two Words from Poland,”1 I am now even more confident in my judgment to recommend these seven pages to the close attentiveness of the reader. For, interwoven in these variegated pages is so much of … More →

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Maniacal Tyrant and Genocidal Murderer Mao ZeDong

AsiaNews; The 20th century saw three great political myths. The myths of Hitler and Stalin have been annihilated, but the myth of Mao Zedong still haunts China today.

It won’t be hard to give a comprehensive evaluation of Mao Zedong, so we can get a clear picture of what he actually achieved.

The history textbooks tell us that the Chinese people achieved a democratic revolution under the … More →

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Clearing the Mind of Cant

G.K. Chesterton’s concluding words in his earnest 1936 essay “About Voltaire” were forcefully compact and sudden and yet, at first, a little too compressed for my immediate understanding, even though I had read those words more than once before: namely, “nothing is so anarchical as discipline divorced from authority; that is, from right.”1 Almost twenty years earlier, soon after World War I in 1919, G..K. … More →

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The Vows and Oaths of Christendom

In a conversation with some of our conference speakers, who are also all contributors to this web site, the question “What is Christendom?” was presented for our consideration. The hope was expressed that these writers would each offer his thoughts on the subject in future articles. Upon reflection, I thought of answering this question indirectly, by replying to another question, “What makes Christendom?” To that … More →

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Jerusalem, Jerusalem

Virtually the instant I saw that Spain’s Queen Isabella the Catholic was the subject of an excellent article by Eleonore Villarrubia recently posted on the SBC website, I thought of Christopher Columbus. This was natural. Though history is largely unknown to most persons today, most still know that Columbus “discovered” America and Isabella financed his venture. The two are indissolubly linked in our minds. On … More →

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Guide to the Catacombs Needs Some Guidance

Vatican: The official guide to the catacombs of Saint Priscilla thinks he sees women priests in the recently restored frescoes. UCANews:  The Vatican on Tuesday unveiled newly restored frescoes in the Catacombs of Priscilla, known for housing the earliest known image of the Madonna with Child — and frescoes said by some to show women priests in the early Christian church. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the … More →

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‘Yo, La Reina’: Queen Of Half The Globe

Isabel, or Ysabel, as was the proper spelling during her own time, was an amazing woman. She has been called by many titles: First Lady of the Renaissance, The Godmother of the Americas, The Last Crusader, The Catholic Queen (an official title given to her by the reigning Pope, along with her husband, Fernando, as the “Catholic King”). Dr. Warren H. Carroll, a recent biographer … More →

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