THE BLACK KETTLE

Proverbs 21:30

In Praise of Christian Walls

By:Srdja Trifkovic

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Pope Francis declared on his flight back to Rome last week.The political implications of his statement have been considered in some detail in recent days, but his assertion also needs to be examined in the light of history.

Had it not been for the walls, strongly built and staunchly defended, Christendom would not have survived the onslaught of Islam in its thousand-year-long period of military expansion. Two prominent examples come from the final two centuries of that period: the sieges of Vienna in 1529 and 1683. The first marked an important early check on Turkish advances, after a century of conquest in the Balkans and Central Europe. The second saved Europe and finally turned the tide. German, Hungarian, Polish, and other defenders of the walls of Vienna were Christian warriors par excellence. During the second siege the city was saved thanks to an alliance between the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Poland, which was brokered at the last minute by Pope Innocent XI. In thanksgiving for the victory at Vienna on September 12, 1683, Pope Innocent fixed that date as the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.

Over two centuries earlier, in July 1456, some 6,000 Christian soldiers successfully defended the walls of Belgrade from Sultan Mehmed’s army of 50,000. During the siege Pope Callixtus III ordered the bells of all churches to be rung every day at noon, as a call for believers to pray for Belgrade’s defenders; that practice has continued to this day, even though not many people know its origins. An old Franciscan monk and preacher, John of Capistrano, played a key role in the battle and personally led a detachment of troops. For his valor and burning faith Pope Alexander canonized “the soldier priest” in 1690.

In 1565 the walls of the Grand Harbor in today’s Valetta enabled 700 Knights Hospitaller, 2,000 Spanish and Italian soldiers, and 4,000 armed Maltese civilians to withstand an assault by 50,000 Turks and North African corsairs. The 70-year-old Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean de la Valette, commanded the garrison. “It is the great battle of the Cross and the Quran which is now to be fought,” he told his troops as the Ottoman fleet appeared on the horizon:

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February 23, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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