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August 13, 2014

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Sts. Hippolytus (170-235) and Pontian (r. 230-235)—a most interesting pair of early Christian men who were at first enemies but now share eternal glory. 

In its first several centuries, the Church dealt with crises both external and internal. Externally, the Church suffered for nearly 250 years under the violent persecutions of Roman emperors, begun under mad Nero in A.D. 64 and finally stopped under Constantine in 313. Internally, the...

July 15, 2014

Today marks the 915th anniversary of the liberation of the Holy City of Jerusalem by the warriors of Christendom on the First Crusade. Those who entered the city in that summer of 1099 had endured three years of battle, starvation, and disease in order to complete their armed pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord. Eighty percent of their brothers in arms who marched from Europe with them were dead, missing, or had deserted. Those few who remained succeeded in accomplishing...

May 30, 2014

Mark Twain considered his biography of Saint Joan of Arc, whose feast we celebrate today, to be his best work. He called the Maid of Orleans “easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.” The story of St. Joan is well known by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, but we may be surprised to learn just how well it is known: There may be no medieval figure whose life is better documented than that of Saint Joan of Arc.

The story of her...

May 20, 2014

Church historians generally recognize two popes with the title “the Great”: St. Leo I (r. 440–461) and St. Gregory I (590–604). Some Catholic historians add St. Nicholas I (858–867). Pope St. John Paul II’s recent canonization was cause for discussion over whether he, too, should be afforded this honorary title.

Some Catholics granted the designation even before his canonization, as the names of a high school in Dumfries, Virginia...

May 5, 2014

Who among us does not long to go back and witness first-hand certain moments in Catholic history? Certain decisive moments. 

Here are a few of mine: On the eve of the battle of Lepanto, Don John of Austria silenced his quarrelling admirals without raising his voice. “Gentlemen,” he said.  “The time for counsel has passed. Now is the time for war.” Imagine the stunned—yet impressed—look on the face of the Venetian sea veteran Sebastian...