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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...

June 5, 2014

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Boniface (680–754), known in Church history as the Apostle to the Germans. Boniface is regarded as “probably the greatest missionary since St. Paul” for his extensive travels and successful evangelization efforts in modern-day Germany.[1] While he is well known as a great bishop and evangelizer, Catholic legend, based on actual historical events, also holds that Boniface is the founder of the use of a Christmas tree to...

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...

April 29, 2014

In the pantheon of great women in Church history, pride of place should be accorded the young mystic from Siena, St. Catherine, whose feast we celebrate today.

Born in 1347 to a humble wool-dyer, Catherine became one the most influential persons of fourteenth-century Christendom. After she became a Dominican tertiary at the age of nineteen she embarked on a life of intense spiritual practices. Her reputation for great holiness spread quickly, and she found herself answering letters...

April 15, 2014

810 years ago this week, on April 13, 1204, an unthinkable act occurred: Christian armies sacked Constantinople, in what became known as the Fourth Crusade. The Crusades are among the most misunderstood events in Catholic history, and the Fourth Crusade is frequently cited by critics of the Crusades and the Church in an attempt to discredit both.    

The notoriety of the Fourth Crusade comes from its (originally) unintended conquest of Constantinople, in which...