Thursday 30 October 2008

The Catholic Centre Party of Germany was the author of its own demise - nothing to do with Pius XII

The Centre Party was founded in 1871, it first leader being the Hanoverian Catholic lawyer, Ludwig Windhorst (pictured left), the famous opponent of Bismarck’s Prussian militarist government, the forerunner of Hitlerism.

Senior Centre Party member Heinrich Bruening became Chancellor but resigned when President Hindenburg began to favour Hitler. Franz von Papen, also of the Centre Party, was then made Chancellor but, after facing opposition within, resigned the Party. Catholic Prelate, Ludwig Kaas, then became Chairman of the Centre Party.

By 1932, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, NSDAP or Nazi Party, was the larger party so that the Centre Party leadership felt compelled to accept a Nazi as Chancellor, provided he could gain the trust of the President, which at that time seemed difficult.

Kaas advised President Paul von Hindenburg and advocated "national concentration including the National Socialists".

Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg became President of Germany but was fooled by Hitler into favouring him. After the 1933 elections Hindenburg was forced to accept Hitler as Chancellor and then, after the passage of the Enabling Act, Hitler eventually (and illegally) dispensed with Hindenburg and became German Fuehrer

Despite strong reservations, von Papen and Hugenberg join forces with Hitler. Hitler intended to minimize non-Nazi participation, but cunningly feigned a willingness to cooperate with the Centre.

However, in the elections of March 1933 the government parties, NSDAP (Nazis) and DNVP, jointly won 52% of the vote.

This result shattered the Centre Party's hopes of being indispensable for obtaining a majority in parliament. The Party was now faced with two alternatives – either to persist in protesting and suffer reprisals like Communists and Social Democrats, or to declare their loyal cooperation, in order to protect their members. As shown by subsequent events, the Party, though deeply uncomfortable with the new government, opted for the latter alternative. This was under the chairmanship of Ludwig Kaas who later supported the Enabling Act in return for religious liberty guarantees including concordats.

Prelate Ludwig Haas, the leader of the Catholic Centre Party

Kaas was aware of the doubtful nature of such guarantees, but when the Centre Party assembled on 23 March to decide on their vote, Kaas advised his fellow party members to support the bill, given the "precarious state of the party".

He described his reasons as follows: "On the one hand we must preserve our soul, but on the other hand a rejection of the Enabling Act would result in unpleasant consequences for faction and party. What is left is only to guard us against the worst. Were a two-thirds majority not obtained, the government's plans would be carried through by other means. The President has acquiesced in the Enabling Act. From the DNVP no attempt of relieving the situation is to be expected".

A considerable number of parliamentarians however opposed the chairman's course, among them former Chancellors Heinrich Bruening, Joseph Wirth and former minister Adam Stegerwald. Bruening called the Act the "most monstrous resolution ever demanded of a parliament", and was sceptical about Kaas' efforts.

All sides in the Centre Party were not unaffected by Hitler's self-portrayal as a moderate seeking cooperation as opposed to the more revolutionary SA led by Ernst Roehm. Even Bruening thought it would be "decisive which groups of the NSDAP will be in power in the future. Will Hitler's power increase or will he fail, that is the question".

German Chancellor Heinrich Bruening, was a member of the Catholic Centre Party but was eventually forced out by the Nazis

In the end the majority of Centre parliamentarians supported Kaas' proposal. Bruening and his followers agreed to respect party discipline by also voting in favour of the bill.

The support of the Centre party proved to be decisive, and the act was passed on 23 March 1933. With the passing of the Enabling Act, the Centre Party had in fact acquiesced in its own demise.

On 8 April, Hitler sent Vice-Chancellor von Papen to Rome to offer to the Pope negotiations for a Reichskonkordat (Concordat).

Former Army Officer, Franz von Papen, was another Centre Party Chancellor and then Vice-Chancellor and thought he could get the better of Hitler but came off second best and only ended up by inadvertently helping the Nazi dictator to power

Throughout the years of the Weimar Republic, the National Socialists had always been staunch opponents of such an agreement, but now Hitler intended to deal a decisive blow against Political Catholicism and also gain international prestige.

Though the Vatican tried to hold back the exclusion of Catholic clergy and organisations from politics, in the end it had to accept the restriction to the religious and charitable field, which effectively meant acquiescing to end the Centre Party. On 14 July 1933 Hitler accepted the Concordat, which was signed a week later.

Ludwig Kaas, the outgoing chairman of the Centre Party, negotiated the first drafts of the Concordat terms with von Papen, representing the German government.

Between 1933 and 1939, Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, issued 55 protests of violations of the Concordat. Most notably, early in 1937, Pacelli asked several German cardinals, including Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber (who ordained as priest our present pope, Benedict XVI) to help him write a protest of Nazi violations of the Concordat; this was to become the papal protest, called Mit Brennender Sorge.

This document condemns the ideology underpinning Nazism and was written in German instead of Latin and read in German churches on a Sunday in 1937. On 10 June 1941, Cardinal Pacelli commented on the problems of the Concordat in a letter to the Bishop of Passau, in Bavaria thus: “The history of the Concordat shows, that the other side [i.e. the Nazi regime] lacked the most basic prerequisites to accept minimal freedoms and rights...”.

Cardinal Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) on a trip to America between the wars

The Centre Party then elected Heinrich Bruening as chairman. At that time, the Centre party was subject to increasing pressure in the wake of the process of Gleichschaltung and after all the other parties had dissolved (or were banned like the SPD), the Centre Party dissolved itself on 6 July 1933.

It is thus nonsense to claim that Cardinal Pacelli put the Zentrum (Centre) party under pressure or to say that the Zentrum did not, however unwillingly, support Adolf Hitler's climb to power. The Centre Party leadership did support it but the real blame lies with the Nazi manipulators and those Germans weak enough to vote for the Nazis. It certainly does not lie with Cardinal Pacelli.


Tuesday 28 October 2008

Face it: the Protestant areas voted for Hitler - the Catholic areas did not

Here is the proof that it was in Protestant areas that the Nazis got their highest votes and in the Catholic areas the lowest (save the exception of Berlin, where the common sense and down-to-earth humour of the native Berliners, coupled with a higher Socialist vote, ensured they could never vote for the strutting, jack-booted Nazi popinjays).

[Source: Blog of Fr Ray Blake at:]

The dark area on the first map show the 1933 Nazi vote in Germany.

The second map shows the distribution of Catholics in the 1932 census.

It is immediately obvious that majority Catholic areas didn't vote for Hitler whereas majority Protestant areas did.

Yet Protestant liars persist with the outright fib that Bavaria voted for Hitler. The truth is the exact opposite: Catholic Bavaria rejected Hitler, as did the Catholic Rhineland, and the Catholic parts of Westphalia, Pomerania and Silesia.

Remarkably, it is a nearly exact fit.

The Protestant areas, by contrast, are exactly the areas where the Nazis gained their votes. The only dot of white in the Nazi-voting Protestant areas is Berlin, for the reasons already mentioned.

It could hardly be clearer.

Face it, Protestants, your German co-religionists supported Hitler and the Nazis, some ardently.

Stop lying and start telling the truth, you Protestants who remain in denial, and recognise that your Catholic brothers, like Pius XII, were leading anti-Nazis and that the majority of German Protestants, with some very noble exceptions, sold out to the Nazi Antichrist.

And Catholics make better beer, too!


Monday 27 October 2008

Hitler's Protestants

National Bishop Friedrich Coch is pictured here giving a Hitler salute greeting in Dresden, 10 December 1933.

Dresden pastor Friedrich Coch was one of the leading men of the “German Christians” in Saxony.

The Nazi Party Gau consultant for church matters since 1932, he was elected to the office of state bishop by the “Brown Synod” of the German Protestant churches in August 1933. Most German Protestants either actively supported Hitler and the Nazis or else kept quiet. In stark contrast to the Roman Catholic Church, almost none made any protest about the Nazi holocaust against the Jews.

Nevertheless, many today claim the right to attack the Catholic Church for not doing enough and especially Pope Pius XII, despite the fact that he saved over 800,000 Jewish lives, more than all other agencies put together.

Such is the hypocrisy of many modern commentators that they have no desire even to find out the true facts about this issue.

When Hitler decided to create a national bishop for the Protestant confessions, the reaction of German Protestant church leaders was positively ecstatic, witness this message:

“Through God's intercession, our beloved German Fatherland has experienced a mighty exaltation. In this turning point in history we hear, as faithful evangelical Christians, the call of God to a closing of ranks and a return, the call also for a single German Evangelical Church .... The Confessions are its unalterable basis .... A national bishop of the Lutheran confession stands at its head .... Christ comes again and brings an eternal completion in the majesty of His Kingdom”.
[Zabel, James A., Nazism and the Pastors: A Study of the Ideas of Three Deutsche Christen Groups. Missoula, Mont. 1976. P.28]

In this, the Protestants saw the hand of God at work in Germany. He was calling the churches back to their old place and task in the midst of the nation.

The Fuehrer was popular among Protestants and it was in traditionally Protestant areas that he had secure his largest vote in contradistinction to the Roman Catholic areas, where he secured his lowest vote (save Berlin where Socialists kept the Nazi vote down).

Reich Bishop of the Protestant churches, Ludwig Mueller, at a Nazi rally

Provincial churches united and synod after synod voiced its approval of a national church under one bishop. Dissent was virtually non-existent.

There was no excuse for this mass approval of Nazism by the German Protestants. It was a grotesque national and international betrayal of the principles of Christ. They were fully aware of Hitler's ideology and aims: he had revealed much of them in his autobiography Mein Kampf, published in the twenties.

Long before January 1933, when Hitler became chancellor, Protestant groups had become widespread in Germany which attempted to combine Christianity with the type of paganism that the Nazis espoused. In 1932, that is, before Hitler became chancellor, a number of these groups had united in what came to be known as the movement of the "German Christians" (Deutsche Christen).

Presidium of the German Christian movement in December 1933

This movement espoused the Nazi party's "positive Christianity" - devised by the odious Nazi ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg - stressing nationalism and the state.

It was especially these "German Christians" who pushed for a national church under one bishop and one Fuehrer. Once Hitler consolidated his power in the course of 1933, their influence grew tremendously. They had members in every provincial church-governing body and were openly supported by members of the Nazi party, many of whom now joined this Protestant national church.

Reich Bishop Ludwig Mueller,
wearing the "NSDAP-Hoheitsabzeichen" (Nazi Eagle party badge) and Feldschnalle (ribbons).

Hitler appointed Ludwig Mueller as bishop. In November 1933 a meeting of 20,000 "German Christians" took place in the Sports Palace, Berlin. The meeting opened with Luther's "A Mighty Fortress” and speeches as well as resolutions were outspoken in their anti-Semitism. The Jewish elements of Christianity must be discarded; the "Rabbi Paul" was to be rejected; the Bible was to be purged of all Jewish influences. Only one person out of the 20,000 cast a negative vote.

Many from the German “Christian” movement went on to become Hitler’s willing tools in the oppression of subject nations and the extermination of Jews.

Investiture of Ludwig Mueller as Reich bishop

So outspokenly pro-Nazi were these German “Christians” that the Nazi Party had to disavow them publicly for fear of a reaction. Even Bishop Mueller disavowed them.

Toward the end of December Bishop Mueller signed an agreement with Baldur von Shirach, the Hitler Youth leader, whereby some 700,000 members of the Evangelical Youth Organization were transferred to the Hitler Youth.

Mass meeting of the "German Christian" movement in 1933 to support Hitler and the Nazis. The banner reads "The German Christian reads the 'Gospel in the Third Reich' ".

Where were the protests from German Protestants at Nazism and Hitler?

There were very, very few. Martin Niemoller, and then later Dietrich Boenhoeffer and Karl Barth (who was, in fact, Swiss, not German) are among the few names that come down to us. Later – much later – there was the Kreisau circle which numbered a few aristocratic Protestants as well as Catholics and those without any specific faith.

And that was about it!

Even then, Niemoeller’s "Pastors' Emergency League" avoided any confrontation with the state, and the exclusion of Aryans was only rejected "in the area of the Church of Christ" and not in the state or society at large!

Moreover, Niemoller was a Hitler supporter to start, despite what the Nazi leader had written in Mein Kampf.

Martin Niemoller never challenged the Jewish holocaust.

Niemoller wrote:

"I really believed...that Jews should avoid aspiring to Government positions or seats in the Reichstag. There were many Jews, especially among the Zionists, who took a similar stand. Hitler's assurance satisfied me at the time. On the other hand, I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while".

Niemoller was later imprisoned but survived the war and became a pacifist peacenik - too little, too late and even then, wrong-headed. Pacifism is not the answer but early opposition to evil - fighting it, if necessary.

Hans and Sophie Scholl of the "White Rose" movement did so. They were originally Protestant Christians but, unlike the vast majority, they fought the evil - and were guillotined by the Gestapo, true martyrs.

Inge Scholl, the sister of Hans and Sophie, became a Roman Catholic and she, and other authors, say that Hans and Sophie died as Catholics (see: Schüler, Barbara. "Im Geiste der Gemordeten...": Die 'Weiße Rose' und ihre Wirkung in der Nachkriegszeit. Paderborn, Germany: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2000).

Niemoller never protested the deportation and murder of the Jews.

Hans and Sophie Scholl, with Christoph Probst.
These young people, with outstanding courage, defied the Nazis and were executed by guillotine.

Few pastors joined the League – another indication of the pro-Nazi stance in the Protestant churches. Even so, loyalty toward the regime was carefully observed by the League. When in October 1933 Hitler ended Germany's membership of the League of Nations, everyone cheered, including the Pastors' Emergency League, which sent a congratulatory message to the Fuehrer assuring him of the members' support!

The Barmen Declaration which had been written by Karl Barth and two Lutheran theologians, which represented but a tiny minority, and was the idea of Karl Barth, a Swiss not a German, was not a political manifesto and it avoided political issues, Nazism was not expressly rejected and Hitler's crimes were not mentioned.

Not a word was said, for example, about the Jews.

This was a terrible omission in many of the pre-Barmen declarations as well as in Barmen itself.

Karl Barth authored the "Barmen Declaration" but never protested the Jewish holocaust.

The Jewish question does not seem to have interested Barth overmuch. Much later, he himself admitted that. In a letter written in May 1967 to Bonhoeffer's biographer, he stated:

“I myself have long felt guilty that I did not make this problem [the Jewish question] central, at least in public, in the two Barmen declarations of 1934 which I composed. In 1934, certainly, a text in which I said a word to that effect would not have found general agreement either in the Reformed Synod of January 1934 or in the General Synod of May at Barmen - if one considers the state of mind of the confessors of faith in those days. But that I was caught up in my own affairs somewhere else is no excuse for my not having properly fought for this cause."
[E. Bethge, "Troubled Self-Interpretation . . . " in The German Church Struggle and the Holocaust. P.67.]

Indeed, the Protestant churches in Germany simply ignored or avoided the Jewish question.

The Barmen authors were only concerned to preserve the purity of the church's doctrine. The vast majority of the Protestant clergy constantly hampered the efforts of anyone who tried to rouse them to resist the evils of the regime.

The stubborn Lutheran tradition of obedience to the ruling powers ensured that German Protestants willingly collaborated with the evil Nazi regime and formed a very significant section of the nation that helped carry out Hitler’s evil plans.

After the war, in October 1945, the Stuttgart Manifesto was published wherein the German Protestant churches were forced to express their guilty collaboration with the Nazi regime:

"With great pain we say: through us, infinite suffering has been brought upon many peoples and countries."

Shame, shame, shame upon those Protestants who now attack the Catholic Church and, in particular, Pope Pius XII, who saved over 800,000 Jewish lives, in stark contrast to the Protestant leaders who, instead, actively collaborated with the diabolically evil, pagan and murderous Nazi regime.



Sunday 26 October 2008

Vivat Christus Rex!

Long live Christ the King!

Dignus est Agnus qui occisus est, accipere virtutem, et divinitatem, et sapientem, et fortiudinem, et honorem. Ipsi gloria et imperium in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Revelation 5: 12, 13, Introit for the Mass of Christ the King

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing...Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
The same from Handel's Messiah

Dixit itaque ei Pilatus: ergo Rex es tu? Respondit Jesus: tu dicis quia Rex sum ego. Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati: omnis qui est ex veritate, audit vocem meam.
John 18, Gospel for the Mass of Christ the King

"Pilate therefore said to Him: art Thou a king then? Jesus answered: thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice".

"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
Revelation 19:6

"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever."
Revelation 11:15

"And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS."
Revelation 19:16

"For unto Us a Child is born, unto Us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace".
Isaiah 9: 6

Pope Pius XI who issued the encyclical on Christ the King, Quas Primas

"19. When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. "You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men." If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.

28. We further ordain that the dedication of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which Our predecessor of saintly memory, Pope Pius X, commanded to be renewed yearly, be made annually on that day."

[Pope Pius IX, Quas Primas, Encyclical letter establishing the Feast of Christ the King, 1925.]

Hail Christ the King!


Saturday 25 October 2008

Pope Pius XII: saviour of the Jews in Europe during World War II

It has been open season on the Servant of God, Pope Pius XII, ever since the Hochhuth play entitled The Deputy (Der Stellvetreter).

However, in recent times it has got much worse since renegade Catholic and purveyor of falsehood, John Cornwall, published his book attacking the late Pope.

On the cover of this book, Cornwell does not hesitate to place a photograph of Pius XII exiting a building being saluted by guards in German coal-scuttle helmets. Impression? - that they are Nazis... except for one hidden fact: the photo was taken in 1929 during the Weimar Republic before the Nazis came to power!

Happily, however, Cornwall's dishonest book has spawned over 25 new books rebutting his falsehoods severally, seriatim and in detail.

Let us, however, not take our cue from the mendacious Mr Cornwall.

Let us hear what the Jews themselves said of Pope Pius XII.

Dr. Joseph Nathan wrote: "Above all, we acknowledge the Supreme Pontiff and the religious men and women who, executing the directives of the Holy Father, recognized the persecuted of their brothers and, with great abnegation, hastened to help them, disregarding the terrible dangers to which they were exposed".

At Pope Pius XII’s death in 1958, Golda Meir sent an eloquent message: "We share in the grief of humanity. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the pope was raised for its victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out about great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace".

Golda Meir, Israeli Prime Minister praised Pope Pius XII and mourned his death

During and after the war, many well-known Jews — Albert Einstein, Moshe Sharett, Rabbi Isaac Herzog, and innumerable others — publicly expressed their gratitude to Pius.

In his 1967 book The Last Three Popes and the Jews, the Israeli diplomat Pinchas Lapide (who served as Israeli consul in Milan and interviewed Italian Holocaust survivors) declared Pius XII "was instrumental in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands".

In response to the new attacks on Pius XII, several Jewish scholars have spoken out recently. Sir Martin Gilbert told an interviewer that Pius XII deserves not blame but thanks.

Sir Martin Gilbert, historian and scholar said Pope Pius XII deserves thanks not blame

Michael Tagliacozzo, the leading authority on Roman Jews during the Holocaust, added, "I have a folder on my table in Israel entitled 'Calumnies Against Pius XII.' . . . Without him, many of our own would not be alive".

Richard Breitman (the only historian authorized to study U.S. espionage files from World War II) noted that secret documents prove the extent to which "Hitler distrusted the Holy See because it hid Jews".

Despite allegations to the contrary, the best historical evidence now confirms both that Pius XII was not silent and that almost no one at the time thought him so.

Any fair and thorough reading of the evidence demonstrates that Pius XII was a persistent critic of Nazism.

Of the forty-four speeches Pacelli gave in Germany as papal nuncio between 1917 and 1929, forty denounced some aspect of the emerging Nazi ideology.

In March 1935, he wrote an open letter to the bishop of Cologne calling the Nazis "false prophets with the pride of Lucifer".

That same year, he assailed ideologies "possessed by the superstition of race and blood" to an enormous crowd of pilgrims at Lourdes. At Notre Dame in Paris two years later, he named Germany a "nation whom bad shepherds would lead astray into an ideology of race".

Holocaust survivors such as Marcus Melchior, the chief rabbi of Denmark, argued that "if the pope had spoken out, Hitler would probably have massacred many more than six million Jews".

Chief Rabbi Marcus Melchior of Denmark, Holocaust survivor, said that if Pope Pius XII had spoken out more Jews would have perished

Robert M W Kempner called upon his experience at the Nuremberg trials to say (in a letter to the editor after Commentary published an excerpt from Guenter Lewy in 1964): "Every propaganda move of the Catholic Church against Hitler's Reich would have been not only 'provoking suicide,' . . . but would have hastened the execution of still more Jews and priests".

The Dutch bishops' pastoral letter condemning "the unmerciful and unjust treatment meted out to Jews" was read in Holland's Catholic churches in July 1942. The well-intentioned letter — which declared that it was inspired by Pius XII — backfired.

Lapide wrote: "The saddest and most thought-provoking conclusion is that whilst the Catholic clergy in Holland protested more loudly, expressly, and frequently against Jewish persecutions than the religious hierarchy of any other Nazi-occupied country, more Jews — some 110,000 or 79 percent of the total — were deported from Holland to death camps".

Bishop Jean Bernard of Luxembourg, an inmate of Dachau from 1941 to 1942, notified the Vatican that "whenever protests were made, treatment of prisoners worsened immediately".

Late in 1942, Archbishop Sapieha of Cracow and two other Polish bishops, having experienced the Nazis' savage reprisals, begged Pius XII not to publish his letters about conditions in Poland.

Albert Einstein paid tribute to Pope Pius XII for saving so many Jewish lives

As early as December 1940, in an article in Time magazine, Albert Einstein paid tribute to Pius XII: "Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly".

In 1943, Chaim Weizmann, who would become Israel's first president, wrote that "the Holy See is lending its powerful help wherever it can, to mitigate the fate of my persecuted co-religionists".

Chaim Weizmann, first President of Israel wrote that the Holy See was helping to rescue Jews

Moshe Sharett, Israel's second prime minister, met with Pius XII in the closing days of the war and "told him that my first duty was to thank him, and through him the Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish public for all they had done in the various countries to rescue Jews".

Moshe Sharett, Israel's second Prime Minister, said it was his "first duty" to thank Pope Pius XII

Rabbi Isaac Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Israel, sent a message in February 1944 declaring "The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion, which form the very foundation of true civilization, are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of Divine Providence in this world".

Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog of Ireland and then, later, of Israel, wrote that the people of Israel will never forget what Pope Pius XII was doing to help Jews

In September 1945, Leon Kubowitzky, secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, personally thanked the pope for his interventions, and the World Jewish Congress donated $20,000 to Vatican charities "in recognition of the work of the Holy See in rescuing Jews from Fascist and Nazi persecutions".

In 1955, when Italy celebrated the tenth anniversary of its liberation, the Union of Italian Jewish Communities proclaimed 17 April a "Day of Gratitude" for the pope's wartime assistance.

On 26 May 1955, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra flew to Rome to give a special performance in the Vatican of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony — an expression of the State of Israel's enduring gratitude to the pope for help given the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Pius XII was one of the few world leaders outside Jewry itself who was quick to recognize the danger of Nazism. Lapide’s book The Last Three Popes and the Jews demonstrates convincingly the consistent and active protection provided to Jews in Europe by the papacy.

Rev Jean Charles-Roux, now a Rosininian priest living in Rome and whose father was French Ambassador to the Holy See in the 30’s, lived with his family in Rome during the fateful pre-war period. He recalls that the Pope told his father as early as 1935 that the new regime in Germany was "diabolical".

The Ambassador frequently warned his government but the general reaction in France was chiefly that it was good to see the back of the Prussian militarist and that it was no bad thing that an Austrian-Czech house painter was now Chancellor.

The reaction in the USA and Britain was scarcely different at that time; and even later when they must have begun to know about the camps. The U.S. government accepted a total of 10,000 – 15,000 Jewish refugees throughout the war. — a scandalously small number.

Britain was little better and before the war the government had been full of "appeasers", the Duke of Windsor visited Hitler and Lloyd George, astonishingly, even went so far as to call him "the greatest living German".

Former British Prime Minister, David Lloyd-George, then Lord Lloyd-George, with Hitler, called the Nazi leader "the greatest living German". So much for the supposedly great Welsh "Liberal" leader - but no-one has yet spoken of "Hitler's Welsh Liberal".

In August 1943 Pius XII received a plea from the World Jewish Congress to try to persuade the Italian authorities to remove 20,000 Jewish refugees from internment camps in Northern Italy.

"Our terror-stricken brethren look to Your Holiness as the only hope for saving them from persecution and death" they wrote.

In September 1943, A L Easterman on behalf of the WJC reported to the Apostolic Delegate in London (there was no Nuncio since the British government always refused to recognize the diplomatic rights of the Holy See—a hangover from our anti-Catholic past). He reported that the efforts of the Holy See on behalf of the Jews had been successful and wrote, "I feel sure that the efforts of your Grace, and of the Holy See have brought about this fortunate result, and I should like to express to the Holy See and yourself the warmest thanks of the World Jewish Congress".

In November, 1943 Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog wrote to Cardinal Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, then Apostolic Delegate for Turkey and Greece, saying: "I take this opportunity to express to your Eminence my sincere thanks as well as my deep appreciation of your very kindly attitude to Israel and of the invaluable help given by the Catholic Church to the Jewish people in its affliction. Would you please convey these sentiments which come from Sion, to His Holiness the Pope [Pius XII] along with the assurances that the people of Israel know how to value his assistance and his attitude".

The American Jewish Welfare Board wrote to Pius XII in July 1944 to express its appreciation for the protection given to the Jews during the German occupation of Italy.

At the end of the war, the World Jewish Congress expressed its gratitude to the Pope and gave 20 million Lire to Vatican charities.

Another Israeli diplomat in Italy claimed that: "The Catholic Church saved more Jewish lives during the war than all the other Churches, religious institutions and rescue organizations put together. Its record stands in startling contrast to the achievements of the International Red Cross and the Western Democracies".

Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, converted to Roman Catholicism and took the baptismal name of "Eugenio", the Christian name of Pope Pius XII, in admiration of his help for the Jews.

As a matter of simple historical fact, Rabbi Israel Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, was received into the Catholic Church in 1945 after the war was over. He was baptized entirely of his own free will and asked Pius XII, with whom he had worked closely in the saving of Jewish lives, to be his godfather. Dr. Zolli chose the name Eugenio as his baptismal name precisely because it was Pius XII’s own Christian name.

These facts are rarely mentioned by commentators, yet they are clearly vital to any assessment of the reputation of Pius XII.

Instead a mendacious campaign has been maintained against the good name of that pope, largely centring around the accusation that he kept silent during the war about the plight of the Jews and refused to mention them by name. It is now implied by some that this was so because he was racist and an anti-Semite.

Those who make such claims often have a dark past of their own to conceal. One such was Rolf Hochhuth, the first to begin the hate campaign. What few know is that Hochhuth was, himself, a former member of the Hitler Youth.

Rolf Hochhuth, former Hitler Youth member, who worked out his guilt by defaming Pope Pius XII

Oskar Schindler, a Roman Catholic, is regarded as a "righteous gentile" by many Jews for saving the lives of some 1,200 Jews in his factories. Why then is Pope Pius XII so unjustly criticized, despite saving over 800,000 Jewish lives?

Pope Pius XII saved some 800,000 Jewish lives during the Holocaust, more than all the other agencies and individuals put together - yet some dishonestly call him "Hitler's Pope". It is a low calumny against a great man.

Eugenio Pacelli, the Servant of God, Pope Pius XII, RIP


Thursday 23 October 2008

St Hubert against the vegetarian Nazis

St Hubert, pray for us!

Notoriously, the odious totalitarian oppressor, heretic and mass-murderer, Adolf Hitler, was not only a vegetarian but also a teetotaller and a non-smoker.

Here is an extract from the Neugeist/Die Weisse Fahne, the German magazine of the New Thought Movement:

"Do you know that your Führer is a vegetarian, and that he does not eat meat because of his general attitude toward life and his love for the world of animals? Do you know that your Führer is an exemplary friend of animals, and even as a chancellor, he is not separated from the animals he has kept for years?...The Führer is an ardent opponent of any torture of animals, in particular vivisection, and has declared to terminate those conditions...thus fulfilling his role as the saviour of animals, from continuous and nameless torments and pain".

(Source: Wuttke-Groneberg, W. 1980. Medizin im Nationalsozialismus. Tübingen: Schwabische Verlaggesellschaft).

But he had no compunction about causing humans pain, death and terrible suffering!

Hitler disapproved of cosmetics since they contained animal by-products. He frequently teased his mistress Eva Braun about her habit of wearing makeup. In his post-war reminiscence The Enigma of Hitler, Belgian SS General, and friend of Hitler, Léon Degrelle wrote:

"He could not bear to eat meat, because it meant the death of a living creature. He refused to have so much as a rabbit or a trout sacrificed to provide his food. He would allow only eggs on his table, because egg-laying meant that the hen had been spared rather than killed."

(Sources: Hitler, Adolf. 2000. Hitler's Table Talk: 1941-1944. Enigma Books; Wilson, Bee. "Mein Diat - Adolf Hitler's diet", New Statesman. 9 Oct 1988).

He had no such tenderness of conscience over the killing of millions of souls whom he well knew were "living creatures"!

Fun-loving, game-eating, whisky-drinking, cigar-smoking, hunt-loving, aristocratic conservative defeats odious, teetotalling, non-smoking, vegetarian, anti-hunting, Socialist fanatic!

Hitler was, notoriously, a teetotaller, non-smoking, vegetarian, Socialist fanatic.

He also hated his native Austria-Hungary and its aristocracy and ruling Habsburg dynasty as is evident from this infamous book, Mein Kampf, in which he writes:

"Did we not know, even as little boys, that this Austrian state had and could have no love for us Germans?

Our historical knowledge of the works of the House of Habsburg was reinforced by our daily experience. In the north and south the poison of foreign nations gnawed at the body of our nationality, and even Vienna was visibly becoming more and more of an un-German city...

In the course of this book I shall have occasion to take up this problem at length. Here it suffices to state that even in my earliest youth I came to the basic insight which never left me, but Only became more profound:

That Germanism could be safeguarded only by the destruction of Austria, and, furthermore, that national sentiment is in no sense Identical with dynastic patriotism; that above all the House of Habsburg was destined to be the misfortune of the German nation."

So much for the Pan-Germanist, Socialist, vegetarian, non-smoking, teetotalling, anti-Habsburg, racist, murderer Adolf Hitler. See what a danger such fanatics are?

He also hated, in equal measure, both hunting and the aristocrats who had, traditionally, engaged in the chase. He called the aristocrats, the "Purple International" and designated them an enemy of the Nazi state.

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand, here with his daughter, was a devout Catholic, humane and wise leader, and was fond of the chase

HIRH the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este was possessed of a just, humane and civilised mind, was a good father and husband, and a wise ruler who intended to bring in a Federal constitution for the people of Austria-Hungary when he became Emperor but he was assassinated, togther with his pregnant wife, Archduchess Sophie, by a Serbian fanatic who thought his Socialist nationalist ideas more important than human life.

The Archduke was fond of the chase and a great hunter, as well as a devout and faithful Catholic.

The fanatics who sought his life were also responsible for the greatest mass slaughter of human life in history until that time - the First World War.

Hunt game, not humans!


Hunt game, not humans - free hunting, stop aborting!

The Feast of St Hubert is on 3 November.

Above is the famous painting by Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens called The Vision of St Hubert.

Hubert was the eldest son and apparent heir of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine, and was born and lived during the reign of the Merovingian kings of France.
As a youth, Hubert was sent to the Neustrian court of Theuderic III at Paris, where his charm and agreeable address led to his investment with the dignity of "count of the palace". Like all nobles of the time, Hubert was a greater hunter and fond of the chase.

Meanwhile, the tyrannical conduct of Ebroin, mayor of the Neustrian palace, caused a general emigration of the nobles and others to the court of Austrasia at Metz.

Hubert soon followed them and was warmly welcomed by Pippin of Heristal, mayor of the palace, who created him almost immediately grand-master of the household.

About this time (682) Hubert married Floribanne, daughter of Dagobert, Count of Leuven, a great and suitable match. Their son Floribert would later become Bishop of Liège.

Unfortunately, his wife died giving birth to their son, and Hubert retreated from the court, withdrew into the forested Ardennes, and gave himself up entirely to hunting.

Woodcock shooting

On Good Friday morning, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag or hart, the animal turned and he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: "Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell". Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, "Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?" He received the answer, "Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you". Hubert set out immediately for Maastricht, for there Lambert was bishop. Saint Lambert received Hubert kindly, and became his spiritual director. Hubert now renounced all his very considerable honours, and gave up his birthright to the Aquitaine to his younger brother Odo, whom he made guardian of his infant son, Floribert.

Fox-hounds on the scent

Having distributed all his personal wealth among the poor, he studied for the priesthood, was soon ordained, and shortly afterwards became one of St. Lambert's chief associates in the administration of his diocese. By the advice of St. Lambert, Hubert made a pilgrimage to Rome in 708, but during his absence, Lambert was assassinated by the followers of Pippin. According to the hagiographies of Hubert, this act was simultaneously revealed to the pope in a vision, together with an injunction to appoint Hubert Bishop of Maastricht.

He distributed his episcopal revenues among the poor, was diligent in fasting and prayer, and became famous for his eloquence in the pulpit. In 720, in obedience to a vision, Hubert translated St. Lambert's remains from Maastrict to Liège with great pomp and ceremonial, several neighboring bishops assisting. A basilica for the relics was built upon the site of Lambert's martyrdom, and was made a cathedral the following year, the see being removed from Maastricht to Liège, then only a small village. This laid the foundation of the future greatness of Liège, of which Saint Lambert is honoured as patron, and Saint Hubert as founder and first bishop.

St Hubert actively evangelised among the pagans in the extensive Ardennes forests and in Toxandria, a district stretching from near Tongeren to the confluence of the Waal and the Rhine.

The story of St Eustace is similar.

Prior to his conversion to Christianity, he was a Roman general named Placidus, who served the Emperor Trajan.

While hunting a stag in Tivoli near Rome, Placidus saw a vision of Jesus between the stag's antlers. He was immediately converted, had himself and his family baptized, and changed his name to Eustace (meaning "good fortune" or "fruitful").

A series of calamities followed to test his faith: his wealth was stolen; his servants died of a plague; when the family took a sea voyage, the ship's captain kidnapped Eustace's wife; and as Eustace crossed a river with his two sons, the children were taken away by a wolf and a lion. Like Job, Eustace lamented but did not lose his faith.

He was then quickly restored to his former prestige and reunited with his family; but when he demonstrated his new faith by refusing to make a pagan sacrifice, the emperor, Hadrian, condemned Eustace, his wife, and his sons to be roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull or an ox, in the year AD 118.

Both saints are the patrons of hunting.

Some say that their story tells against hunting for that they gave up the chase. Closer analysis reveals a more subtle moral. St Hubert was out hunting on Good Friday instead of repairing to Church. That was impious and a danger to his soul. He had, in effect, abandoned devotion to his faith following his wife's death. God called him back and to a bishopric, since this was what was necessary to his salvation and was his true calling. He now had to "hunt" for souls.

When the hunt was over...

It is an interesting twist of human nature and history that opposition to hunting and belief that animals should be given quasi-human rights is a common harbinger of oppressive totalitarian and heterodox views.

So, in our time, many who oppose hunting animals, even for food, happily support abortion, embryo-experiments and the "hunting" of humans to use in scientific research and "search and destroy" operations against the defenceless child in the womb.

Professor Peter Singer, Australian-born Princeton University philosopher, believes that animals should have rights likes humans and that new-born human babies should not have rights until they are "wanted" or "initiated". For him, man is but one form of animal and no more.

St Hubert and St Eustace, pray for us!


Saturday 18 October 2008

The holy Peace Emperor: Feast Day of the Blessed Emperor Charles of Austria on 21 October

The Feast Day of His Imperial Majesty, the Blessed Emperor Charles I of Austria is on Tuesday 21 October 2008.

This is the day of his marriage to HRH Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, and was, for that reason, chosen by Pope John Paul II at the beatification.

This saintly exemplar of Christian virtue, chivalry, devotion and holiness was the last Hapsburg Emperor, the successor of the Holy Roman Emperor who was the first knight and lay leader of all Christendom for 1,000 years with the solemn blessing of the Supreme Pontiff and Holy Church.

He was the first political leader in Europe to introduce a Ministry of Social Assistance for the relief of the poor and unemployed. He based this directly upon the teachings of Pope Leo XII in his Encyclical, Rerum Novarum, on the condition of the working classes.

He died in 1922 at the early age of 34, in absolute poverty with his wife, Her Imperial Majesty Empress Zita, and 7 children, exiled from their homeland to the island of Madeira. Madeira Island has constant sunshine on the coast but up the mountain, where the imperial family lived, was often shrouded in close, dense, mist straight off the Atlantic which was unhealthy for the sick

The exiled Emperor wanted to get toys for presents for his children but, having no money, he always had to walk down the mountain to Funchal and there barter away a few items in exchange for others.

Walking back he caught a chill which later developed into double pneumonia. The doctor was called and the Empress Zita's worst fears were realised. The Emperor Charles, the exiled ruler of the great Catholic Empire, was dying, although still a young man.

He died with the Holy Name of Jesus on his lips.

The Blessed Emperor Charles upon his death bed

So poor were the family that the Empress Zita had to ask a peasant whom the Emperor had given some clothes, to return them so that the Blessed Emperor could have some clothes to be decently buried in.

Everything had been taken from the imperial family and from the Blessed Emperor. All had been relinquished. He died with nothing left but himself to take to his Creatorand his family to be left in the hands of God.

50 years later in 1972, his grave was opened and his body found to be incorrupt. The Emperor's youngest son, the Archduke Rudolf of Austria, witnessed this and saw his own father incorrupt.

Who can imagine what it must be like to see one's own father incorrupt?

His Holiness, Pope St Pius X, had granted a private audience to Karl’s fiancée, HRH Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, a short time before their wedding, and the saintly Pope had prophesied that he would one day become Emperor. Zita corrected the Pope reminding him that Charles was only 2nd in line after HIRH the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Nevertheless, the holy Pope insisted that it would be so and told her that when he was Emperor they must both work zealously for peace. Thus St Pius X also indirectly predicted the First World War.

Then this great Pope told her a remarkable thing. He told her to rejoice “because he saw Charles to be Heaven’s reward to Austria for all her faithfulness to Pope and Church.”

The Blessed Emperor Charles on his wedding day in 1911

The devotion of the Blessed Emperor is clearly demonstrated in the acta of the Beatification process. The following excerpt from The Religious Life of Emperor Karl: A Study of the Documents for the Beatification Process by Giovanna Brizi, gives a very edifying summary:

"He drew the strength to endure all of these trials from incessant prayer and continual communion with God, which he fostered by daily participation in Holy Mass, Eucharistic worship, and adoration of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He went to confession every eight days and took the observance of Sundays and Lent very seriously. He loved the Psalms, two of which he prayed daily, the “Miserere” and Psalm 90. (62)

He was especially devoted to the Mother of God and frequently prayed the rosary, a devotion he also practised with his family. He reverently wore the scapular according to the tradition of the confraternity to which he belonged, and in which he also enrolled all of his children. In honour of the Virgin, the children were given the middle name of Maria, and up to the age of three were only permitted to wear clothes in the colours of the Madonna to whom they had been dedicated. (63)

He also attached a medal of the Mother of God to his children’s cradle. (64)

He often meditated on the Stations of the Cross in the house chapel, alone. (65)

Before making any important decision the Servant of God would withdraw to the chapel by himself to weigh his decision before the Sanctum Sanctorum and to 'pray about it', as he used to say. (66)

He also deeply adored the Holy Spirit. During the peace negotiations he prayed the Veni Creator daily after Holy Mass. And after the peace accord he decided to keep up this beautiful habit, since he was convinced that the world needed enlightenment from above more than ever. (67)

On 2 October 1918, at his son Otto’s First Communion he dedicated his entire family to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and included all nations of the monarchy in this act. The prayer of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was prayed in the family chapel on every first Friday of the month, and the litany and the Little Office of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were among his favourite prayers. (68)

Corpus Christi Day was strictly observed every year, which is why Bishop Fischer-Colbry also called him 'the Eucharistic Emperor'. (69)

He also especially revered St Michael the Archangel, whom he declared patron saint of his imperial army. His children were taught to pray to their guardian angels daily. He much revered St. Joseph, as well, which is why 'Joseph' was added to his children’s middle name of 'Maria'.

He fervently supported the cause of Father (now Blessed) Marco d’Aviano’s beatification; and he honoured Brother Konrad of Parzham who had already been canonized at this time, carrying a relic of this saint with him up until his fatal sickness. The canonized parish priest Maaß von Fließ in the Tyrol and, naturally, the various patron saints of his multiple countries and St Charles Borromeo were also objects of his special devotion. (70)

He never began any meal without saying grace, and wherever he was he prayed the Angelus at noon.

He valued indulgences and strove to obtain them. For example, he fervently and joyfully obtained the Porziuncula Indulgence at Santa Maria degli Angeli at Assisi, year after year. He also highly revered his Cross for a Happy Death, to which a Plenary Indulgence for the Hour of Death had been granted and which he always carried on himself. (71)"

62 Summ. test., p. 567, § 748, Empress Zita.
63 Summ. test., p. 148, § 226; Anna Francesca Maria Lamich.
64 Summ. test., p. 214, Archduchess Elisabeth Charlotte.
65 Summ. test., p. 511, ad 41, Baron Karl Werkmann von Hohensalzburg.
66 Summ. test., p. 558, § 740, Empress Zita.
67 Summ. test., p. 555, Empress Zita.
68 Summ. test., p. 556, Empress Zita.
69 Summ. test., p. 556, Empress Zita.
70 Summ. test., pp. 566-567, Empress Zita
71 Summ. test., p. 579, § 49.

The Blessed Emperor Charles on the day of his coronation in Hungary,
as King Charles IV of Hungary

A few days after his coronation, Karl automatically became commander-in-chief of all his armed forces. In this capacity, too, he frequently visited the front, advancing all the way to the foremost lines and participating in many battles, where he exhibited exemplary courage and calm in the midst of exploding enemy artillery fire. The sight of the gruesome slaughter, however, brought him into sharp conflict with moral and religious principles that were so deeply engrained in him. A few hours after the eleventh battle at the Isonzo River, court photographer Schuhmann saw him crying at the sight of charred and disfigured corpses. He heard him say, “No one can justify this before God. I will put an end to it as soon as possible”.

As Emperor he had a growing conviction that he had to take all possible diplomatic routes to achieve peace; he thought so despite his German allies who accused him of cowardice because they knew only one kind of peace, “victorious peace.”

In the meantime, he made use of all his powers to at least reduce the cruelty of the war; he firmly opposed the use of poisonous gas on the eastern front; he was immovable in his decision not to shell Italian towns; he fought against the use of submarines which were to attack enemy towns along the Adriatic coast, especially Venice, and later brought Americans into the war; and all this despite the mockery, fury and accusations coming from his German ally. To him, the civilian population was absolutely inviolable.

The Blessed Emperor Charles decorates soldiers at the front.
He had ever the keenest concern for the care of the ordinary soldier.

At the same time he took up with great fervour Fr Wilhelm Schmidt’s idea to establish “soldiers’ homes” at all fronts, in order to keep the troops’ morale high. Everyone was to have access to them, should be at home, be able to find distractions from war, and buy affordable treats. Unobjectionable newspapers and magazines, books and games were to be found there as well. Thus, the soldiers were to be kept from spending their time with less uplifting distractions, which would be detrimental to them physically and spiritually.

General Bardoff for instance felt compelled to challenge the Emperor’s sweeping measures against “immoral practices” (i.e. brothels) in the armed forces, because the high-ranking officers thought them to “make sense from a hygienic perspective”. The Emperor personally saw to the distribution of rosaries among the soldiers and issued a rescript calling for Holy Mass and sermons to be said in the soldiers’ quarters not just on Sundays and Holidays, but also every day of the week.

As far as possible he strove to improve and make more humane the lot of prisoners of war; he participated in initiatives between Austria-Hungary, Russia and Italy to exchange prisoners. He personally verified that prisoners were treated well in the camps, supported those returning to their homes as best he could, and opposed the repression of remnant populations in enemy territory.

The fiercest opposition arose to his outlawing of duelling, evidently a very widespread custom that proved difficult to root out. He was warned that his reputation with the Army would suffer if he banned it but ban it the Blessed Emperor did for, as he said, duelling is a sin and condemned by the Church.

He expressed horror at the German plan to send Lenin by train from Zurich to start revolution in Russia and opposed it, with immense foresight, telling the Germans that revolution did not confine itself to national borders and was a bacillus that would affect the world, not just Russia. The Germans pressed ahead so Charles forbade any such train to pass through any of the imperial lands.

The Blessed Emperor hears Mass (in the old Roman rite)
before attempting to regain his throne in Hungary in 1919

His people called him the “Peace Emperor” for his efforts to obtain peace which were cruelly rebuffed by the Entente leaders, almost all secularist anti-Catholics and Freemasons, like France’s Alexandre Ribot, Italy’s Baron Sydney Sonnino and Britain’s David Lloyd-George.

These wicked old men refused to listen to the compassionate charity and mercy of the 29-year old “Peace Emperor” in 1916 and so ensured that millions would die in the slaughter of Passchendaele and the trenches, and Communism would be victorious in Russia and, later, Nazism in Germany.

O Servant of God, Emperor Charles, pray for the Christian West,
- the evening land upon which the Sun sets!


"I saw the lady!": the saints that God loves best - the simple, the humble and the devout

When Our Lady is asked by God to appear to men it is usually to the simplest and to those who are often thought of by others as stupid, clumsy and unimportant.

One such was St Marie-Bernarde Soubirous, usually known as St Bernadette.

Saint Bernadette was born 7 January 1844, a miller's daughter from the town of Lourdes in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

From 11 February to 16 July 1858, she reported 18 apparitions of "a lady".

She was the daughter of François Soubirous and his wife Louise (née Castérot), a laundress and was the eldest of five children who survived infancy. Bernadette was a sickly child; she had cholera in infancy and suffered most of her life from asthma.

Hard times had fallen on France which was under the rule of the unbeliever, revolutionary and thrower of bombs at the Pope (in his youth) Emperor Napoleon III Bonaparte.

Secularism had taken over France and the result was extreme poverty for many of the poor.

The Soubirous family were an example and the family lived in extreme poverty. Neighbours, however, reported that the family lived in unusual harmony, relying on their religious devotion. They lived in a tiny room shared between a whole family.

On 11 February 1858, Bernadette, then aged 14, was out gathering firewood and bones with her sister and a friend at the grotto of Massabielle outside Lourdes, when she had the first of 18 visions of what she termed "a small young lady" (uo petito damizelo) standing in a niche in the rock. Her sister and her friend stated that they had seen nothing. On her next visit, she said that the "beautiful lady" asked her to return to the grotto every day for fifteen days.

At first her mother had forbidden her from going but Bernadette persuaded her mother to allow her to go. The apparition did not identify herself until the seventeenth vision, although the townspeople who believed she was telling the truth assumed she saw the Virgin Mary.

Bernadette never claimed it to be the Blessed Virgin, calling what she saw simply Aquerò ("that thing"), in Gascon Occitan, the patois of that part of France which is, even today, spoken by many.

Bernadette described the lady as wearing a white veil, a blue girdle and had a golden rose on each foot and held a rosary of pearls.

Bernadette's story caused a sensation with the townspeople, who were divided in their opinions on whether or not Bernadette was telling the truth.

At the thirteenth of the apparitions on 2 March, Bernadette told her family that the lady had said "Please go to the priests and tell them that a chapel is to be built here. Let processions come hither".

Accompanied by two of her aunts, Bernadette duly went to parish priest Curé Dominique Peyramale with the request. He had little belief in claims of visions and miracles and told Bernadette that the lady must identify herself.

Curé Dominique Peyramale, the Dean and Parish Priest of Lourdes

As Bernadette later reported to her family and to church and civil investigators, at the ninth visitation the lady told Bernadette to drink from the spring that flowed under the rock, and eat the plants that grew freely there.

Although there was no known spring, and the ground was muddy, Bernadette did as she was told by first digging a muddy patch with her bare hands and then attempting to drink the brackish drops. She tried three times, failing each time. On the fourth try, the droplets were clearer and she drank them. She then ate some of the plants.

When finally she turned to the crowd, her face was smeared with mud and no spring had been revealed. Understandably, this caused much scepticism among onlookers who shouted, "She's a fraud!" or "She's insane!" while embarrassed relatives wiped the adolescent's face clean with a handkerchief. In the next few days, however, a spring began to flow from the muddy patch first dug by Bernadette. Some devout people followed her example by drinking and washing in the water, which was soon reported to have healing properties.

In the 150 years since Bernadette dug up the spring, 67 cures have been "verified" by the Lourdes Medical Bureau as "inexplicable", but only after extremely rigorous scientific and medical examinations failed to find any other explanation.

Even the Empress Eugenie, devout Catholic wife to the unbelieving Emperor Napoleon III,
sent for a bottle of the Lourdes water to help heal her own child

According to Bernadette's account, during one visitation she again asked the lady her name but the lady just smiled back. She repeated the question three more times and finally heard the lady say, in Occitan, "I am the Immaculate Conception" (Que soi era immaculada concepcion).

Four years earlier, Blessed Pope Pius IX had promulgated the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; that, alone of all human beings who have ever lived (save for Jesus, Adam, and Eve), the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of Original Sin.

This was not a phrase that Bernadette or her family had heard and, plainly, she could not have invented it.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes

Eventually, as visitors to Lourdes know well, churches and chapels were built and eventually a large Basilica which is visited by 5,000,000 pilgrims every year.

This year is the 150th anniversary of the apparitions at Lourdes.

The statue of our Lady of Lourdes at the grotto at Massabielle, today

Bernadette eventually joined the Sisters of Charity of Nevers convent moving into their motherhouse at Nevers at the age of 22. She spent the rest of her brief life there, working as an assistant in the infirmary and later as a sacristan, creating beautiful embroidery for altar cloths and vestments.

She eventually died of her long-term illness at the age of 35 on 16 April 1879.

On 8 December 1933 she was canonized as a saint and her Feast Day is celebrated on 16 April. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes was instituted by the Church.

2009 has been declared "The Year of Bernadette".

Bishop Gauthey of Nevers and the Church exhumed the body of Bernadette Soubirous on 22 September 1909 in the presence of representatives appointed by the postulators of the cause, two doctors, and a sister of the community. They found that although the crucifix in her hand and the rosary had both oxidized, her body was incorrupt and preserved entirely from decomposition.

The Church exhumed the corpse a second time on 3 April 1919. The body was still preserved, however her face was slightly discoloured possibly due to the washing process (by the sisters) of the first exhumation.

The incorrupt body of St Bernadette of Lourdes at the Convent of Charity, Nevers

In 1925, the church exhumed the body for a third time. Relics were taken which were sent to Rome. The remains were then placed in a gold and crystal reliquary in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the mother house in Nevers. The site is visited by many pilgrims and the body of Saint Bernadette to this day remains intact despite being nearly one hundred and thirty years old.

It is one of the most perfect examples of incorruption of any saint.

These are the saints that God loves most – the simple, the humble, the devout – those that others think are stupid, clumsy, unimportant. God knows better. The ways of God are not those of men.

"I am the Immaculate Conception"

St Bernadette, pray for us!

Our Lady of Lourdes, the Immaculate Conception, pray for us!