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Simon de Montfort’s Good Habit

Gregory Johnson

Fornerus, formerly Bishop of Bamberg, relates of the great Duke Simon de Monfort (1160-1218) as follows:

This famous Duke was accustomed to hear Mass daily with great devotion, and at the Elevation of the Sacred Host, he would say with Simeon: “Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace, because my eyes have seen Thy salvation” (Lk 2:29-30).

His regular attendance at Mass was known to the Albigensians, his bitterest enemies, against whom he had been waging war for 20 years. The Albigensians determined to make a sudden attack upon the Duke’s army in the morning while he was at Mass.

They executed their design and did in fact surprise his soldiers. Officers came to him while he was hearing Mass, announcing to him the great danger in which the whole army found itself and begging him to come to their aid. The Duke answered, “Let me serve the Lord now, and men afterwards.”

Simon de Monfort

Simon de Montfort led the Catholic forces in the Crusade against the Albigensians
No sooner were these officers gone than others arrived making the same most earnest request. The Duke replied, “I shall not leave this place until I have seen and adored my God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Meanwhile, he recommended his whole army to Our Lord, beseeching Him by the most august Sacrifice of the Mass to assist his people. At the Elevation of the Sacred Host, he poured out his heart in humble prayer to his Savior, spiritually offering up in union with the priest to the Heavenly Father the Body and Blood of His well-beloved Son, and making, at the same time, an oblation of his own life in honor of the Blessed Trinity.

At the Elevation of the Chalice he prayed, “Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, 0 Lord, according to Thy word in peace, because my eyes have seen thy salvation.” Then, feeling inspired with great courage and confidence in the Lord, he said to his officers, “Now let us go, and if God pleases, die for Him who has deigned to die for us on the Cross.”

His whole army consisted of 800 cavalry, with 16,000 infantry. With this force he attacked, in the name of the Blessed Trinity, the grand army of the Albigensians, commanded by Raymond, Count of Toulouse, who was supported by the army of Peter, King of Aragon, his brother-in-law.

Now, of this grand army Simon de Montfort, the Christian hero, killed 20,000 men on the spot, and the rest of his enemies he put to flight. Everyone said and believed that Montfort had gained this glorious victory more by his fervent prayers at Mass than by the strength of his army.

Showing his approval for the piety and feats of the great leader against the Albigensians, Fr. Michael Müller comments:

“Ah, how many and how great would be the victories which we should gain over the world, the flesh and the Devil, were we always to hear Mass with as much faith, fervor and devotion as this duke did!”

From Michael Muller, The Blessed Eucharist
Rockfort: TAN, 1994, pp. 276-278
Posted January 15, 2011
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