Guest Submission By The Commander
Dedicated to the Blessed Emperor Karl der Grosse
The Great Exemplar and Father of Catholic Knighthood
The first French edition of The Liturgical Year by Don Geranger listed January 28 as a local feast day for Charlemagne. Below is the prayer composed by Dom Prosper Guerangest in honor of Carolus Magnus:
Hail, O Charles, beloved of God, Apostle of Christ, defender of His Church, protector of justice, guardian of good customs, terror of the enemies of the Christian name!
The tainted diadem of the Caesars – purified by the hands of Leo – sits on your august forehead; the globe of the Empire rests in your vigorous hand; the ever-victorious sword in your combats for Our Lord is sheathed at your waist, and on your forehead the imperial anointing was added to the royal unction by the hand of the Pontiff who consecrated you and confirmed your authority. As the representative of the figure of Christ in His temporal Royalty, you desired that He would reign in you and through you.
Now God rewards you for the love you had for Him, for the zeal you displayed for His glory, for the respect and confidence you showed toward His Spouse. In exchange for an earthly kingship, transitory and uncertain, you enjoy now an immortal kingdom where so many millions of souls, who by your hands escaped idolatry, today honor you as the instrument of their salvation.
During the days of celebration of the birth of Our Lord by Our Lady, you offered to them the gracious temple you built in their honor (the Basilica of Aix-la-Chapelle), and which is still today the object of our admiration. It was in this place that your pious hands placed the newborn garment worn by her Divine Son. As retribution, the Son of God desired that your bones should gloriously rest in the same place to receive the testimony of the veneration of the peoples.
O glorious heir to the three Magi Kings of the East, present our souls before the One who wore such a humble garment. Ask Him to give us a part of the profound humility you had as you knelt before the Manger, a part of that great joy that filled your heart at Christmas, a part of that fiery zeal that made you realize so many works for the glory of the Infant Christ, and a part of that great strength that never abandoned you in your conquests for His Kingdom.
O mighty Emperor, you who of old was the arbiter of the whole European family assembled under your scepter, have mercy on this society that today is being destroyed in all its parts. After more than a thousand years, the Empire that the Church placed in your hands has collapsed as a chastisement for its infidelity to the Church that founded it. The nations still remain, troubled and afflicted. Only the Church can return life to them through the Faith; only she continues to be the depositary of public law; only she can govern the powerful and bless the obedient.
O Charles the Great, we beseech you to make that day arrive soon when society, re-established at its foundations, will cease asking liberty and order from the revolutions. Protect with a special love France, the most splendid flower of your magnificent crown. Show that you are always her king and father. Put an end to the false progress of the faithless empires of the North that have fallen into schism and heresy, and do not permit the peoples of the Holy Empire to fall prisoner to them. Amen.”
Restoration not Revolution
‘Those who will defend authority against rebellion must not themselves rebel.’ —J.R.R. Tolkien
Lady foretold to Mother Marianna de Jesus Torres in the 16th
Century of a great crisis in the Church and the World that would last
through more than half of the 20th century:
“Thus I make it known to you that from the end of the 19th century and from shortly after the middle of the 20th century, in what is today the Colony and will then be the Republic of Ecuador, the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of customs, for Satan will reign almost completely by means of the Masonic sects.
“They will focus principally on the children in order to sustain this general corruption. Woe to the children of these times! Woe to the children of these times! It will be difficult to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, and also that of Confirmation. They will receive the Sacrament of Confession only if they remain in Catholic schools for the Devil will make a great effort to destroy it through persons in positions of authority.
same thing will happen with Holy Communion. Alas! How deeply I grieve
to manifest to you the many enormous sacrileges – both public as
well as secret – that will occur from profanations of the Holy
Eucharist. Often during this epoch the enemies of Jesus Christ,
instigated by the Devil, will steal consecrated hosts from the
churches so that they might profane the Eucharistic Species. My Most
Holy Son will see Himself cast upon the ground and trampled upon by
“But this convent will conserve faithful souls, devoted and fervent spouses who will make amends to Him with loving tenderness, suffering to seeing Him thus hated by their ungrateful brethren, sinners whose hearts will hardly seem to be human. They will pray for these sinners and make great penances of every type; some will also carry the heavy cross of infirmity by which God purifies His chosen souls, and with it they will make amends for so many crimes and sacrileges committed in the world. The wily demon will try to impede this, placing in the imaginations of my suffering daughters ideas of despair with the intent of making them lose the merits they have gained.
“But in those times you will already be known, as well as the favors that I am bestowing on you. How I love the fortunate inhabitants of this sacred place! And that knowledge will stimulate love and devotion to my Sacred Statue. For this reason, today I authoritatively order you to have this statue made: Let it be sculpted just as you see me and placed upon the Abbess’ chair, so that from there I may govern and direct my daughters and defend my Convent; for Satan, making use of both the good and the evil, will engage in a fierce battle to destroy it.
“This battle will reach its most acute stage because some irresponsible religious, under the appearance of virtue and with bad-intentioned zeal, will undermine the existence of their mother, the Religious Life, who nourished them at her breast. These souls will assume massive responsibility for their actions. Only by Divine Mercy will they arrive at Purgatory to be purified in its fires.
“All these souls should tremble upon learning of this future destiny! Falling into themselves, they must struggle to reform their Convent, reforming themselves first. Above all, they must have a heroic charity, carefully and lovingly guarding in their hearts the weaknesses they discover in their sisters. Without this divine charity not a single virtue can exist, for charity and profound humility are the only solid foundation of religious perfection. Without them, there can only be a simulation of virtue that barely covers the putrefaction of the soul.
“Since this poor Country will lack the Catholic spirit, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction will be little valued. Many people will die without receiving it – either because of the negligence of their families or a misconceived affection for their sick ones. Others, incited by the cursed Devil, will rebel against the spirit of the Catholic Church and will deprive countless souls of innumerable graces, consolations, and the strength they need to make that great leap from time to eternity. But some persons will die without receiving it due to the just and secret chastisements of God.
“As for the Sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolizes the union of Christ with His Church, it will be attacked and deeply profaned. Freemasonry, which will then be in power, will enact iniquitous laws with the aim of doing away with this Sacrament, making it easy for everyone to live in sin and encouraging the procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church. The Catholic spirit will rapidly decay; the precious light of Faith will gradually be extinguished until there will be an almost total and general corruption of customs. Added to this will be the effects of secular education, which will be one reason for the dearth of priestly and religious vocations.
“The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed, and despised, for in this Sacrament, the Church of God and even God Himself is scorned and despised since He is represented in His priests. The Devil will try to persecute the ministers of the Lord in every possible way; he will labor with cruel and subtle astuteness to deviate them from the spirit of their vocation and will corrupt many of them. These depraved priests, who will scandalize the Christian people, will make the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church fall upon all priests.
“This apparent triumph of Satan will bring enormous sufferings to the good Pastors of the Church, the many good priests, and the Supreme Pastor and Vicar of Christ on Earth, who, a prisoner in the Vatican, will shed secret and bitter tears in the presence of his God and Lord, beseeching light, sanctity, and perfection for all the clergy of the world, of whom he is King and Father.
“Further, in these unhappy times, there will be unbridled luxury which will ensnare the rest into sin and conquer innumerable frivolous souls who will be lost. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women. In this supreme moment of need of the Church, the one who should speak will fall silent.”
Hence, we see the importance of Catholic Knighthood in our times, bound with a strong devotion to Our Lady, under Her mantle as Our Queen, in service of Her Divine Son Our King, for the restoration under God of Holy Mother Church and Christendom.
Political and Social
Doctrine of the Church
The Political and Social Doctrine of the Church first applied was first applied when the Church began to baptize individuals, with their families, as well as princes, with their nations, thereby winning them to the Faith. Some of these leaders also received the grace to die as martyrs for the Catholic Faith. Prominent among them were:
- Clovis, king of the Franks, baptized in 496 A.D., with 3,000 of his officers ;
- St. Ethelbert, king of Kent, baptized in 597: he was followed by 10,000 of his subjects;
- Boris, khan of the Bulgars, baptized in 864: he established Christianity in his kingdom;
- St. Wenceslas, duke of Bohemia, martyred in 936;
- Mieszko, duke of Poland, baptized in 966: he undertook the conversion of his country;
- St. Wladimir, grand prince of Kiev, baptized with all his people in 988;
- St. Olaf, a Viking baptised in Rouen around 1010, and later king of Norway and martyr;
- St. Stephen, baptized in 985, and crowned “Apostolic” king of Hungary on Christmas Day,in the year 1000 A.D., as proposed by Pope Sylvester II.
The Social and Political Doctrine of the Church was well understood by Catholic princes. The Union between Church and State, between the Priesthood and the Empire, was never stronger than during the Carolingian Dynasty, the second Frankish ruling dynasty (751-987 A.D.), founded by Pepin the Short, but named after his son, Charlemagne (Charles the Great). This Union and cooperation between the Church and Christian Princes continued during the Ottonian Saxon Dynasty (936-1024 A.D.), ruled successively by Otto I, Otto II, Otto III, and (Saint) Henry II. Pope Leo III restored the Western Roman Empire, when he crowned Charlemagne Roman Emperor on Christmas Day, in 800 A.D. In 962 A.D, Pope John XII restored the Roman Empire again, when he crowned Otto I Emperor. The actual term “Holy Roman Empire” dates from 1254 A.D.
This doctrine was not always accepted by Christian princes. Some German Roman Emperors even opposed it, in what became known as the Struggle between the Priesthood and the Empire (1075-1254 A.D.). The following are notable examples of this struggle:
- Pope St. Gregory VII deposed Henry IV, because he wanted to appoint bishops himself;
- Frederick I (Barbarosa) of Hohenstaufen wished to restore the absolute power of the pagan Emperors, even over religion;
- Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, nicknamed the Antichrist, because of his irreligious conduct, was first excommunicated, then deposed, by Pope Innocent IV;
- Henry II (Plantagenet), king of England, was very despotic towards the Church. In 1170 A.D., while offering Holy Mass, St. Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was resisting Henry, was assassinated in his own cathedral by someone who wanted to please the king. Henry Plantagenet eventually did severe and sincere penance for that crime.
- In the case of Philip IV (the Fair), king of France (1285-1314 A.D.), he decided to completely reject that doctrine of the Church, thereby opposing Pope Boniface VIII, who was dutifully defending it. Philip then ordered the arrest of the Pope, following upon which Boniface soon died. To make matters worse, only a few months later, partly due to the insecure situation in Rome and partly due to the will of the French king, the new Pope, Clement V, moved to Avignon (France).Successive popes remained in this exile from Rome, or captivity in the “golden cage” of Avignon, from the 1305 election of the French Pope, Clement V, to 1377, when St. Catherine of Sienna convinced Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. Subsequently, Anti-popes, supported by the French kings, remained in Avignon until 1423. For a total of 118 years, the Papacy was more or less at the mercy of the king of France.
The main reason for this change in the attitude of the princes was a new doctrine; promoted by lawyers called Jurists, experts in Law, who favoured the Pagan Roman Law over the Christian Customary Law, so as to give more power to the prince they served. According to Pagan Roman Law, the Emperor was seen as a god and his will became law! At the time of (Saint) Louis IX of France and his first cousin, (Saint) Ferdinand III, king of Castile and Leon, St. Thomas Aquinas explained, in a small book entitled De Regno, or De Regimine Principum, various types of political regimes:
- A regime in which a prince is looking out for his own interests, rather than those of his people, is a bad regime;
- A regime of a prince who does not abide by the fundamental laws of his kingdom, but rather seeks absolute power, is a grave danger to the common good;
- A regime where the merchant class gains too much power in the City creates a system where the chief motivation of people would no longer be the practice of virtue, but the pursuit of money, which would lead to liberal capitalism and a relaxation of morals.
Faithful to Catholic Doctrine, St. Thomas Aquinas was against absolutism.
In one of his libels, Philip the Fair explained that the Emperor did not have the right to intervene in French political matters, nor did the king of France have the right to intervene in the Emperor’s political affairs. He then went on to say that, in the same manner, he would not interfere in the spiritual domain, if the Pope did not intervene in French politics, i.e., if the Pope would stop reminding kings (especially the French monarch) of the Christian principles by which they should govern. Although it would have been most improper for Philip to interfere in the Pope’s spiritual affairs, since he had no authority in the spiritual domain, the Pope had the full right and duty to remind Philip of his Christian obligations as a Catholic Monarch, especially where it concerned the good of souls.
This Church doctrine expounded by Pope Boniface VIII, in the bull Unam Sanctam of November 18th, 1302. When heresies developed, or when new theories, at variance with the Magisterium of the Church (teaching authority), were expounded, it had always been the practice of the Church to clearly write down its teaching. Unam Sanctam was nothing new, but merely a reminder of what great Popes and Doctors of the Church, like St. Augustine, St. Bernard, Hugh of Saint Victor, and St. Thomas Aquinas, had repeated many times.
Since the time of St. Bernard and Pope Boniface VIII, the basic Political and Social Doctrine of the Church has been referred to as the Doctrine of the Two Swords, in remembrance of Our Lord telling his disciples that now was the time for the man who had no sword to buy one. The Apostles said they had two, to which the Master answered that it was enough (Luke XXII, 35-38).
The Doctrine of the Two Swords teaches us that Christ, being both God and man, is King of the Universe, and as such, His Kingship, which includes both individual souls, as well the whole of society, should be officially recognized by all nations. Accordingly, His Spouse, Holy Mother Church, is Queen, while the Sovereign Pontiff exercises that Kingship on His behalf. He does so in two ways:
- He exercises a Direct Power in the Spiritual Field, by means of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy (bishops and priests);
- He may apply an Indirect Power in the Temporal Field, which is entrusted to lay people, particularly to the natural leaders of men, such as emperors, kings, knights, heads of state, political leaders, magistrates, chiefs of tribes, and heads of families. The Hierarchy doctrinally guides these natural leaders, but can, indeed, admonish them, and even condemn them, if necessary, as they did to erring princes in past ages. By this Authority, and because Catholic leaders once respected this Indirect Power, past popes were able to depose the two above mentioned German Roman Emperors. This power was last used by Pope St. Pius V, when he excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, thereby relieving the English of all allegiance to her.
The Authority to doctrinally supervise the Civil Power is based upon the fact and principle that Holy Mother Church holds the Teaching Authority and Power from Christ Himself, and that we are sinners, much inclined to error (in Latin, ratione peccati ).Every pope, be it Boniface VIII or Leo XIII, has based the Indirect Power on this concept of the ratione peccati . Consequently, the mission of the Pope is not to appoint princes, but to advise, punish, or even depose them, should this prove to be necessary for the good of souls.
Alas, some individuals have failed to accept the Doctrine of the Two Swords, by refusing any form of control from the Spiritual Power over the Temporal Power, a practice known as Secularism. Sometimes, individuals mistakenly believe that clerics should also rule directly in the Temporal Domain, a practice called Theocracy, which is supported by Islam, but not by the Catholic Church.
We observe this failure to apply this doctrine in the daily life of Catholics in the attitude of some Catholics, whereby the priest is only seen as a dispenser of sacraments, without regard for his teaching authority and advice. In fact, this is Anti-clericalism, and it leads to Secularism. On the other hand, it can also be observed when the priest is regarded as being more knowledgeable in all fields than, or understanding everything better than, lay people, based on the premise that he has the highest vocation. This attitude is known as Clericalism, and it leads to Theocracy.
To save Her flock the Church founded a series of institutions that fostered the sanctification of souls, such as:
- Ecclesiastical institutions, for the sanctification of the clergy;
- Religious institutions, like the monastic orders;
- Lay institutions, like knighthood, workers’ guilds, Third Orders, for the sanctification of society as a whole. These Church institutions were based on the knowledge that one is more likely to save one’s soul, when supported by a good environment, than when one has to heroically resist a bad environment. In some countries today, Conciliar Churchmen are telling us that they have fewer people attending, but that it is the elite; they add that the others used to come for social reasons. Even if some parishioners were coming for social reasons, these Churchmen do not understand that they benefited greatly and were ready to call a priest in time of necessity. Holy Mother Church has never been “elitist”, a “church” for heroes only. She wants as many as possible of Her sons and daughters to be saved through the Cross of Her Divine Spouse. Without these supportive institutions, the Church knows how much more difficult it would be to save oneself. For this reason, the Church has established a good number of them.
The particular notes, or characteristics, of Church Institutions are:
– Excellency: they are the best possible means to reach the end the Church has given them.
– Mission: they give an official mandate from the Church.
– Graces: they give appropriate graces to fulfill that mission.
– Universality: they apply wherever the Church extends.
– Perenniality: since they are the best means, there is no reason to change; they are lasting.
Examples of lasting Church Institutions are:
- The Priesthood, which was founded by Our Lord, while the different degrees of the Hierarchy were set up by the Church. The Apostles instituted the degrees of the Hierarchy for the salvation of souls as follows: Deacon, Priest, Bishop. In the II century A.D., the Church added the degree of Lector. By the middle of the following century, other minor orders of the Clergy were established, namely: Porter, Acolyte, Exorcist, and Sub-deacon. The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy has not changed much since that time.
- Special religious institutions were set up for the personal sanctification of the faithful. In the III century A.D., the Monks (Coenobites and Hermits) would strictly follow the Evangelical counsels. In the XIIIth century A.D., the Third Orders would make it as easy as possible to do the same for people in the world. Both of these institutions still exist in our day.
- Other institutions were founded for the general sanctification, not only of individuals, but of society as a whole, such as workers’ guilds, confraternities, the Truce of God, the Peace of God, and particularly the four above-mentioned institutions for the promotion and defence of the Christendom: Christian Monarchy, Christian Knighthood, the Crusades, and the Military Orders. Most of these institutions lasted a long time, or are still in existence. The Crusades did not stop with the loss of the Holy Land in 1291. They were called until the XVII century, such as the Crusade to defend Vienna besieged by the Turks. The galleys of the Order Malta protected Europe at the Battle of Lepanto, and until the end of the XVIII century. Pope Pius XII himself said, in his 1956 Christmas message, that he had been thinking of calling for a Crusade, as Hungary was being invaded by the Communist Russians.
The Church mentioned the perennial aspect of Her Institutions on many occasions. More particularly, Pope St. Pius X, in 1910, did so in a very significant way when he had to condemn a French progressive Catholic organisation called “le Sillon”, because it wanted to find new bases and principles for society, a “New Christendom”, as Maritain later called it. They admitted that it would have to be a pluralist liberal democracy. That document of St. Pius X is known as the Letter about le Sillon. It reads thus: “This has to be emphasised in our time of social and intellectual anarchy, when everyone establishes himself as doctor and legislator: one will not build the city otherwise than God has built it; one will not build up society if the Church does not lay its foundations and lead its construction; no, civilisation does not have to be discovered, nor the new city to be built in the clouds. It has been, and it is; this is Christian Civilisation, this is the Catholic City. One only has to build it and restore it unceasingly, on its natural and divine bases, against the ever reviving attacks of pernicious utopias, revolt and impiety: Omnia instaurare in Christo [restore all things in Christ].”
The main Institutions set up by the Church for the promotion of Christendom are Christian Monarchy and Knighthood, with their three levels of consecration, one for Emperors, one for Kings, and one for Knights. Anointing or coronation was conferred upon an Emperor or a King, while the rite of liturgical dubbing was conferred upon a Knight.
The main Institutions founded by the Church for the defence of Christendom on all its fronts are the Crusades, as a temporary movement, followed by the Military Orders, as the permanent order and defence structure of Christendom.
The Concept of an Order
Generally speaking, an Order is a group of people who are “ordained” to a particular end, i.e., consecrated and working together toward the same goal, which could include service to the Church, the extension of Christendom, or the Common Good. Some examples are: the Priestly Order, the Royal Order, the Monastic Order, the Knightly Order, the Medical Order, etc.
More specifically, an Order can be a number of people belonging to the same group, following
the same Rule, and having the same Superior. Examples within the Monastic Order are the Order of St. Benedict, the Cistercian Order, the Carmelite Order, that of St. Francis or that of St. Dominic. Examples within the Knightly Order are the Order of the Temple, the Order of the Knights Hospitaller or that of Calatrava.
Strictly speaking, a Religious Order, or “Religion” as an Order, is one in which at least a
number of its members take the Vows of Religion (poverty, chastity and obedience), as in the Benedictine Order or the Dominican Order, for example.
There are also Secular Orders, which are Orders made up of lay people, married or not, who take only private vows, or make a simple commitment, as in the Franciscan or the Dominican
A Third Order is an Order that is founded after a First Order for monks and a Second Order for contemplative nuns or religious. Within a Third Order, we now have Secular Third Orders for lay people, and even secular priests, and Regular Third Orders for active or semi-contemplative nuns. The Teaching Dominican Nuns, for instance, belong to the Regular Third Order, since they do not belong to the Second Order, which is made up of contemplative nuns.
The difference between a Movement and an Order is that a Movement is meant to face a particular problem hic et nunc (here and now), at a particular moment in time, and in a given place. Once the goal has been reached, or if conditions have changed, the Movement disappears. A Crusade is a good illustration of a Movement. On the other hand, an Order is a permanent structure of society.
Knighthood or Chivalry
 Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.  For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.  Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice,  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace:
 “In the high places”… or heavenly places. That is to say, in the air, the lowest of the celestial regions; in which God permits these wicked spirits or fallen angels to wander.
 In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.  And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).  By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints:  And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel.  For which I am an ambassador in a chain, so that therein I may be bold to speak according as I ought. Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians Ch 2 11-20.
“Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world” (The Broadstone of Honour, Kenelm Digby). “
St Bridget of Sweden received great revelations concerning chivalry, founded the Order of the Most Holy Saviour and the Royal Convent of Vadstena, Sweden, esteemed and encouraged the military-religious orders. Our Lord appeared to her, extolling chivalry, and saying: “A knight who keeps the laws of his order is exceedingly dear to me. For if it is hard for a monk to wear his heavy habit, it is harder still for a knight to wear his heavy armour”. The spirit of chivalry is primarily meant as an interior attitude of the soul to accomplish God’s will whatever the cost, a disposition of mind whereby, in the revelations of St. Bridget, the faithful knight and the self-denying, cloistered nun are described as having the same worth in the eyes of God and therefore receiving the same everlasting reward.
After baptizing individuals, the Church founded institutions in order to “baptize” the political structures of society as well. The Church had been working with previously existing institutions, such as the monarchy, the military, and the administrative organisation of society, but decided to “baptize” them by consecrating the men in charge through a sacramental. The coronation, or the anointing, of the king was performed as early as the VII century, while that of the Emperor was performed on Christmas Day, in the year 800 A.D. At the very beginning of the IX century, the rite of liturgical dubbing, or benediction of the new knight, was conferred by a Bishop, using the Benedictio Novi Militis, found in the Roman Pontifical. In the latter case, the Church christianized a German tribal rite, a tradition kept by the Franks and the Lombards, in which arms were solemnly bestowed upon a boy who was quickly becoming a man and a warrior. Over the centuries, with the help of the Church, it had gradually changed from a purely human rite to one having a more profound, Christian significance.
Knighthood is an institution founded by the Church for the promotion of a Christian Social and Political Order, also known as Christian Civilisation, or Christendom, and which today is often called the Social Reign of Our Lord, Christ the King.
A knight is creating via two different kinds of dubbing. There is a military or lay rite, which is a purely human rite: any knight may dub another knight. There is a liturgical rite, or Benedictio Novi Militis of the Roman Pontifical, which is a sacramental conferred by a Bishop or a Prelate.
Thus, by the rite of liturgical dubbing, the Church, on behalf of Christ the King, gives an official mandate to a layman, thereby authorizing him to act in the temporal field, as well as the corresponding graces needed to help him fulfill that mission.
The institution, concept and ideal of Knighthood, or Chivalry, gradually christianized the very political and social institutions of society, by building up Christendom from the IX and X centuries, a period of political chaos, into its apex during the XII and XIII centuries.
Chivalry was disciplined by a code of conduct clearly understood although it was never formulated. Examination now, in retrospect, allows it to be reduced to this series of commandments composed by Leon Gautier:
Thou shalt believe all the Church teaches and shalt obey Her commandments.
Thou shalt defend the Church.
Thou shalt respect all weaknesses and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
Thou shalt make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.
Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
Thou shalt never lie; and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.
These commandments may be said to have evolved from two Charlemagnic sources around the end of the eight century. The first, now described as Charlemagne’s Code of Chivalry was documented in ‘The Song of Roland’ in the early 11th Century. The ‘Song of Roland’ describes the 8th Century Knights and the battles of the Emperor Charlemagne. It has been described as Charlemagne’s Code of Chivalry. In it the duties of a Knight were described as follows:
- To fear God and maintain His Church To serve the liege lord in valor and faith
- To protect the weak and defenseless
- To give succor to widows and orphans
- To refrain from the wanton giving of offense
- To live by honor and for glory
- To despise pecuniary reward
- To fight for the welfare of all
- To obey those placed in authority
- To guard the honor of fellow knights
- To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
- To keep faith
- At all times to speak the truth
- To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
- To respect the honor of women
- Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
- Never to turn the back upon a foe
The second Charlemagnic source is the Exhortation of 800 AD, was issued by Charlemagne in the year he became Emperor:
Love God Almighty with all your heart and all your powers. Love your neighbor as yourself. Give alms to the poor as ye are able. Entertain strangers. Visit the sick. Be merciful to prisoners. Do ill to no man, nor consent unto such as do, for the receiver is as bad as the thief. Forgive as ye hope to be forgiven. Redeem the captive. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of the widow and orphan. Render righteous judgment. Do not consent to any wrong. Persevere not in wrath. Shun excess in eating and drinking. Be humble and kind. Serve you liege lord faithfully. Do not steal. Do not perjure yourself, nor let others do so. Envy, hatred and violence separate men from the Kingdom of God. Defend the Church and promote her cause.
Six centuries later, the Duke of Burgundy defined for the Order of the Golden Fleece the knight’s twelve chivalric virtues as: faith, charity, justice, sagacity, prudence, temperance, resolution, truth, liberality, diligence, hope and valour.
Orders of Knighthood
An Order of Knighthood can also be called an Order of Chivalry or a Military Order, since the Latin word miles means knight, and the Latin word militia means Knighthood or Order of Knighthood. Consequently, an Order of Knighthood is a group of knights following the same Rule and the same Master, or Grand Master, which in Latin is Magister Militiae.
The first Military Order that was ever founded was the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ,
also known as the Order of the Temple, in the Holy Land about the year 1119 A.D. Subsequently, various Orders of Hospitallers, like those of St. John of Jerusalem, and later those of St. Mary of the Teutons and St. Lazarus, were militarised, adopting the Rule of the Temple, or part of that Rule, written by St. Bernard at the Council of Troyes (France) in 1129 A.D.
The origins of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem date back to the First Crusade, when its leader, Godfrey de Bouillon, liberated Jerusalem. As part of his operations to organise the religious, military and public bodies of the territories newly freed from Muslim control, he founded the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulchre. According to accounts of the Crusades, in 1103 the first King of Jerusalem, Baldwin I, assumed the leadership of this canonical order, and reserved the right for himself and his successors (as agents of the Patriarch of Jerusalem) to appoint Knights to it, should the Patriarch be absent or unable to do so.
The Order’s members included not only the Regular Canons (Fratres) but also the Secular Canons (Confratres) and the Sergentes. The latter were armed knights chosen from the crusader troops for their qualities of valour and dedication; they vowed to obey Augustinian Rule of poverty and obedience, and undertook specifically, under the command of the King of Jerusalem, to defend the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Places.
Very soon after the First Crusade the troops – including the Knights of the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulchre – began to return to their homelands. This led to the creation of priories all over Europe, which were part of the Order as they came under the jurisdiction of the noble knights or prelates who had been invested on the Holy Sepulchre itself and who, although they were no longer in the direct service of the King of Jerusalem, continued to belong to the Order of Canons.
The Order first began to fail as a cohesive military body of knights after Saladin regained Jerusalem in 1182, and completely ceased to exist in that format after the defeat of Acre in 1291. The passing of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem left the Order without a leader, though it continued to survive in the European priories thanks to the protection of sovereigns, princes, bishops and the Holy See. The priories kept alive the ideals of the Crusader Knights: propagation of the Faith, defence of the weak, charity towards other human beings. With the exception of events in Spain, it was only rarely that the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre ever took part again in military action to defend Christianity.
In the 14th century, the Holy See made an extremely high payment to the Egyptian Sultan so that he would grant the right to protect the Christian Sanctuaries to the Franciscan Friars Minor. Throughout the whole period of the Latin Patriarchate’s suppression, the right to create new Knights was the prerogative of the representative of the highest Catholic authority in the Holy Land: the Custos.
In 1847 the Patriarchate was restored and Pope Pius IX modernised the Order, issuing a new Constitution which placed it under the direct protection of the Holy See and conferred its government to the Latin Patriarch. The Order’s fundamental role was also defined: to uphold the works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, whilst preserving the spiritual duty of propagating the Faith.
Over and above its historic connotations and its eventful progress in times gone by, the valuable and interesting aspects of the Order today lie in the role assigned to it, which it pursues within the sphere of the Catholic Church and through its administrative structure and its local organisations in various communities.
There were other Military Orders founded in regions other than the Holy Land. Some knightly confraternities had started as groups of lay knights in Spain (Belchite, Montreal) and in Portugal (Avis). They disappeared, merged with, or became Religious Military Orders (Calatrava, Santiago, Alcantara, Alfama, Montesa, Avis, and the Portuguese Order of Christ). All these Orders were inspired by the Cistercian monks, and/or copied the Order of the Temple, with the exception of the Order of Santiago, which had three classes of members: canons, religious knights and married knights. On the Eastern European front, being the bulwark against local pagan tribes, and such invading tribes as the Mongols, the Teutonic Order (Order of St. Mary of the Germans) developed in Prussia, while the Order of the Sword-Bearers emerged from the Baltic region. On another front, in Lombardy, St. Dominic founded the Militia Christi , i.e., the Order of the Knights of Christ, in order to protect the churches, monasteries, and Christian people from the Manichees. The knights were laymen, and their spouses were accepted as sisters of the Order. The Militia Christi gave birth to the Dominican Third Order.
What was the purpose of Military Orders? The original goal of the Templars had been to protect the pilgrims on the roads, as they visited the Holy Places. When the Military Orders grew, their task clearly became the defence of the frontiers of Christendom on many fronts, just like the Crusades. However, the Crusades were temporary, and the Crusaders were poorly trained and not used to the Orient and other fronts, while the Military Orders were permanent, fully trained, and had an excellent knowledge of the terrain.
The main Institutions founded by the Church for the promotion and the defence of Christendom were, from the beginning of the IX century, Christian Monarchy and Knighthood. They, together, started the process of building up Christendom. From the XII to the XVIII century, temporary Crusades and permanent Military Orders actually protected its borders and coasts.
Theology of the Knightly
The mission of a natural leader is to promote and protect the Common Good of his people, rather than his own interests.
A natural leader is any leader given by nature, including pagan kings, tribal chiefs, fathers of families, or business entrepreneurs, be they Christian or not. As a natural leader, a knight is supposed to have more or less influence on his environment and to act for the Common Good of those who are in his charge. In this way, he would be applying the Doctrine of the Two Swords, which allows the Church to intervene by reason of ratione peccati , i.e., by virtue of Her Indirect Power.
The consecration of a king, or the dubbing of a knight, has two main uses. Firstly, being sinners, men cannot fulfill their mission properly, without the help of the graces received in the liturgical dubbing or consecration. Secondly, because they are Christians, they receive, in addition to the Natural Mission submitted to the Indirect Power of the Church, a Spiritual Mission by virtue of the Direct Power of the Church, since it is not linked to the ratione peccati principle. This Spiritual Mission is directed at giving to Christ the King the homage of an official and public cult, to help the Church in the exercise of Her Sacred Duty, to protect Her against the wicked, to imbue legislation with the principles of the Gospel, and finally to organise the Earthly City with a view to the Celestial City.
The concept of a sacramental is key to the premise of Catholic Knighthood. It is necessary here to distinguish the difference between a sacrament and a sacramental. The Sacraments were instituted by Our Lord Himself, and have within themselves the power to give grace (ex opere operato) to those who receive them with the right disposition. Sacramentals were instituted by the Church, and they operate through Her impetrative virtue (ex opere operantis). Both sacraments and sacramentals are administered by a bishop or a priest. Some sacramentals are objects, like blessed water or medals. Other sacramentals are actions, among which can be found invocative ceremonies (i.e., solemn blessing of a new Abbot, a Church, or a Chalice) and constitutive ceremonies (i.e., consecration of a new knight to the service of the Church).
Darstellung des Ritterschlages aus dem Reisebericht des Heinrich Wölffli, 1520
(Quelle: Die Grabeskirche in Jerusalem, Belser Verlag)
The consecration of an Emperor, a King or a Knight has is always efficacious, since they are carried out through the impetrative virtue of the Church Herself. Such consecrations have a real effect in the world, for the good of society and the Church, and facilitate and strengthen the actions of the men would receive the Graces concomitant with their consecrated state and station. Thus, the so consecrated layman is able act in the natural world, with the aid of supernatural Graces, that blessed and steer his actions. To quote Sir Kenhelm Digby, the famous 17th century physicist, naval commander and diplomatist, “[a]ll the laws of Chivalry were dictated by this spirit. The first was: ‘To fear, honour, and serve God, to contend with all his strength for the faith, and rather to suffer a thousand deaths than to renounce Christianity.’ Then: ‘To support justice, to attend to the proper complaints of the weak, especially of widows, orphans, and damoiselles, and, when necessity requires, to undertake their cause, saving always his own honour; to fight for the right and common cause.’ This close connection between the defence of religion and of justice is shown in the admission made by Sismondi, namely, that during the civil wars between Lothair II and Conrad III the Guelfs were at once the defenders of the Church and of the privileges of the people. Again, in the old poem on the order of Chivalry, the virtues which are peculiarly to distinguish a knight are seven, of which the first three are, faith, hope, and charity. And Eustache Deschamps says: ‘You who desire to become knights must pursue a new course of life. Devoutly you must watch in prayer, avoid sins, pride, and idleness; you must defend the Church, widows and orphans, and with noble boldness you must protect the people.’”
Hence, we come to the importance of the restoration of true Knighthood in our times. As noted at the beginning of this paper, Holy Mother Church is in the grips of a dreadful crisis that has spanned at least five decades, and whose roots go even further back. Indeed, the need for Catholic Knights acting as true natural leaders according to their ancient calling as real soldiers of Christ, willing to discharge not only their charitable obligations, but also their martial obligations, if such should be needed. Knights today can also act as bridges from within the ranks of the laity to connect dedicated doctrinally sound Catholic men across the various boundaries within the Church. Indeed, along the lines of the doctrine of the Two Swords, they can and should make unity a grass roots ground swell that can often be out in front of their clerical brethren in terms of actual goodwill and mutual help and activity on the ground.
What sort of Knights do we need? Knights were soldiers of Christ in the literal sense in their inception and design. Men with military, scouting, public security, survival skills or government backgrounds, for historical reasons as well as practical ones, ought, in general therefore, to form the core of any restoration. Historically, the profession of arms is, among true professionals, looked upon as a sort of international brotherhood. In conjunction with the Catholic Church, which is by definition international, there is an urgent need to reinforce that sense of an international brotherhood among Catholic men. Forming and binding together true Catholic Knights is a natural way to make this happen.
Practically speaking, men with a military, scouting, public security, survival skills or government, backgrounds already understand the concept of ‘explicit’ hierarchy: they have lived in a hierarchal organisation with ranks, rules, standards of conduct, and the like. In a sense, the military, and to a lesser extend the various national scouting-type of organizations is all that we really have left of a traditional Catholic-type of society.
Thus, again, the first thing is to accomplish is to get Catholic men of action, natural leaders under the banner and with the Graces of knighthood to think of themselves as a community, an elite corps for Christ. To do this Catholic men must also resurrect the ancient forms of patronage between men; the system based on the ancient Roman patron/client system. This is the natural system for natural leaders, and one of the intrinsic duties of the same, to wit, to promote and aid each other in the establishment and defence of Christendom. The Order, then, should serve as a basis upon which a system of traditional Catholic patronage can be re-established. Traditional Catholic men, alas, often simply do not communicate or cooperate well. Part of that has to do with a certain underlying mutual suspicion that they have developed living in these times of ‘diabolic disorientation.’ After all, Traditional Catholics are strangers in our own lands, which should be considered occupied territory for the foreseeable future. So in today’s dark times that means the defence of the Remnant Faithful, as the tides of anti-Catholicism rise. Through networking, mutual aid, direct and indirect patronage, and finally concrete action in the world, under the ancient and proven forms of Knighthood, lay Catholic men can have a powerful impact on the course of history, and more importantly, on the salvation of souls; our own not the least.
For instance, established Catholic businessmen should be assisting younger Catholic entrepreneurs; established Catholic military officers should be giving advice and connections to younger Catholics seeking a military career; older Catholic civil servants should use their influence to help their younger brethren gain access to government jobs and help them navigate their careers successfully; and so on.
Thus, through this system we build trust and confidence in each other based on tangible actions taken on each other’s behalf. Moreover, as we traditional Catholics tend to have larger families, we thereby contribute to the re-establishment, organically and de facto at first, of control and influence over our own societies. This is, of course, a generational approach that will take lifetimes to achieve. But, if we do not start right now, we will continue to lose precious time while the Enemy and his servants consolidate their position further.
And more than that, we should begin to re-establish the old Roman custom of the ‘Cursus Honorum’, by which we groom and train our young men to assume leadership positions in society as it is currently constituted, in order to assist in bringing about the conversion of society in general. A simple, one-dimensional strategy, whereby we simply establish defensive positions and live within our own enclaves will not bring about the restoration of the Kingship of Christ: there must be a trained corps of young men who will enter the world confidently (prepared, perhaps, not unlike the Jesuits of old were) and recapture our institutions, not by force of arms, but by force of example and persuasion, backed up by the resources we can provide to that end. We need lawyers as well as soldiers: the noblesse de robe as well as the nobless d’épée.
In other words, an order of knighthood (literally, ‘bellatores’) should be preparing itself to fight, both spiritually and physically. And by physically, I do not mean aggressively or in a violent, revolutionary manner: I mean that Catholic knights must be prepared to defend themselves, their families, and Holy Mother Church.
That Catholic Knights in the modern world are engaged in spiritual combat should be understood as a given. “Bellatores” means warriors, which we are, while knight is translated “miles” in medieval Latin. Hence “militia” meaning a chivalry or an order of knighthood.
A knight must be a fighter and a leader, and in general there are very few such in Catholic Tradition overall.
Thus, I am actively recruiting of men from military and security-related backgrounds; those will skill sets and aptitudes relevant to knighthood, especially in this age of the world, as well as those individuals who possess assets and influence that can be placed at the disposal of the Church through the Order. In effect, the Order should serve, among other things, as an international network of traditional Catholic ‘bellatores’ that can be mobilised to action in case of emergency situations such as man-made or natural disasters.
Knights operating in the world must always remain focused on those things which a key to our existence. We are ALL here to know, love and serve God and thereby to save our souls. Our Lord Jesus Christ set up Holy Mother Church for the salvation of souls. Ergo, the primary mission we all have is the salvation of as many souls as possible, starting with our own. This is God’s priority and should be ours.
But how to do this? We have models to draw on. For instance, Catholic missionaries did not set up hospitals, agricultural systems, schools, etc., for the social benefit of the pagans. They set them up to create a space in which it was possible to save as many souls as possible. Knights need to think in a similar manner as they move in the world. Some key items Catholic knights should key in on are, but are not limited to the following (this is an evolving list):
and nurture the children!
- Promote and enhance all current conservative/traditional Catholic schools regardless of affiliation (no sedevacantists, Feneyites, etc., of course)
- Create more such schools in regions devoid of such schools.
- develop robust boarding schools for the same
together home-school efforts to fill the gap
- Catholic boys/young men should be funneled into the priesthood or knighthood.
- Girls/Young women should be funneled into marriages with strong Catholic men or Holy Orders.
- Strengthen the squire system for boys and young men binding together Catholic Boy and Girl Scouts, Traditional Catholic Youth Groups, etc., under an Umbrella organization run by Knights to serve as a recruiting ground for vocations and knighthood.
- Support all conservative/traditional seminaries regardless of affiliation and gather vocations for them.
- Support all conservative/traditional monasteries regardless of affiliation and gather vocations for them (this one is very key and very necessary for the Restoration of Christendom).
the Catholic Patron system.
- Create through a re-established Catholic patronage system a means to assure full employment for all Catholic men with families.
- Create multiple-member patron teams to cover different areas based on various needs for action and mutual aid.
- Link similarly geo-located Catholic men together in phone tree/address groupings for mutual support and aid.
- Send our emissaries to preach this message everywhere to all who will listen. Missionary work for laymen.
- Educate Conservative and Traditional Catholics on the Truth.
- Establish local fall back points for times of crisis, and various Courses of Action (COAs) for the protection of Traditional Catholic.
- Establish one or more regional redoubts for periods of crisis and persecution.
- Establish final destination mountain redoubts for in to which the regional redoubts will feed.
These are just some of the many actions Catholic men who enter upon the quest for Truth and Salvation in this life need to consider and make happen.
Finally, in this age it is VERY important for all Catholic men, and especially Catholic Knights to participate in the venerable Ignatian Retreats that are offered by a few Catholic Fraternities, and to also perform the Total Consecration to Our Lady a la St. Louis de Monfort, and become consecrated themselves in the Militia Immaculatae of St. Maximilian Kolbe. The daily recitation of the Rosary and the wearing of the Brown Scapular are also essential, and should be considered together as the sword and armour of the a Knight in today’s dark and dangerous world. The importance of devotion and consecration to Our Lady in these times cannot be overestimated.
© 2019, Anthony Stine. All rights reserved. You may reuse or copy this post by giving credit and providing a link.