Flanders: Christmas Truce in the Trenches of World War I

This is a true historical account of an amazing event, not related in the textbooks of modern histories of war. These good men, enemies in battle, that you will read about below were not politicians or high officers, but the common soldiers facing death in an evil war they were forced to be fodder for. They sang across the lines, and over the lines; they sang of Bethlehem and the peace of Christ. The author of this inspiring article, Thomas Craughwell, didn’t mention a detail I had read in another account of this Christmas truce, namely, that the French soldiers who did observe the truce exchanged holy cards of Saint Thèrése with the Germans. The Little Flower was already popular in all of Europe before her canonization in 1925, her cause being introduced by Saint Pius X just before his death in 1914. In fact, she was extremely popular, devotion to her spreading like wildfire, as she herself implicitly prophesied regarding her greater work to come from heaven (see here). Christmas on the front in 1914 was a break from hell on earth. Grace rained down from heaven (Rorate Caeli de super et nubes pluant justum) into the cold and muddy trenches. Many soldiers, who were soon to die, may owe their salvation to this period of grace. Tears of repentance surely ran down many cheeks. Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm … for awhile … all is bright, for awhile.

National Catholic Register, Thomas J. Craughwell: On Christmas Eve 1914, Belgium’s cold was even colder in the wet and the mud of the trenches along the Flanders front. Capt. Charles Stockwell of the Fifth Welsh Fusiliers was pulling his coat tighter around him in a futile effort to get warm when he heard, floating across “No Man’s Land,” the Christmas carol Stille Nacht (Silent Night). Cautiously, he peered over the parapet of the trench, and he saw, about 100 yards away, the German trenches lit up with the soft glow of candlelight. Full article is here.