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Blessed Urban II, July 29

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection:

Urban II, Pope from 1088 to 1099, defended the liberty of the Catholic Church continuing the work of St. Gregory VII. He called the First Crusade. The principal aim of the Council of Clermont was to discuss this Crusade.

Pope Urban II preaching the first Crusade

Urban II preaches the Crusade at the Council of Clermont
The people were eager for the announced expedition and finally the Pope attended to their impatient requests. He sat upon the throne that had been prepared specially for that occasion. At his side was Peter the Hermit. Below him was an enormous multitude: Cardinals, Abbots, priests, monks, knights and the people.

After the speech of Peter, who described what he had seen in Jerusalem, Urban II addressed the crowd with these words:
“Go, brothers, go with hope to the fight against the enemies of God, who for so long have dominated Syria, Armenia and the countries of Asia Minor. They have already committed many outrages: they have taken the Sepulcher of Christ and the marvelous monuments of our Faith; they have forbidden pilgrims to set foot in a city whose worth only Christians can truly appreciate. Are these facts not sufficient to upset the serenity of your faces?

“Go and show your worth! Go, soldiers, and your fame will spread over the entire world. Do not fear to lose the Kingdom of God because of the tribulation brought by war. If you will fall prisoner to the enemy, face the worse torments for your Faith and you will save your souls at the same moment you will lose your bodies. Do not hesitate, most dear brethren, to offer your lives for the good of your neighbor. Do not hesitate to go because of love for your family, your country, or your riches, since man owes his love principally to God. You will have the greatest happiness one can have in his life, which is to see the places where Our Lord spoke the language of men.”
To these words the faithful answered unanimously: “Deus vult" [God wills it!]

Urban II added:
“Such a cry would not be unanimous if it were not inspired by the Holy Ghost. Let this be, then, your war-cry to announce the power of the God of Hosts.

“And whosoever will undertake this journey shall carry on him the form of the cross. Let you, then, bear the cross upon your sword or your breast, on your weapons and standards. Let it be for you either the sign of victory or the palm of martyrdom, and also the symbol to unify the dispersed children of Israel. It will continuously remind you that Jesus Christ died for you and that for Him you should die.”
The date of the Crusade was fixed for August the 15, Feast of the Annunciation.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

You see the great beauty of this scene.

First, you have a saint on the See of Peter. What a wonderful thing! The light in the candelabrum to illuminate all the peoples, the focal point irradiating virtue, a saint sitting in the cathedra whence truth and good should be taught. He was addressing the ranks of warriors of Our Lord and Our Lady to lead them to the fight against their enemies. This man, like an Angel, was filled with zeal for the Holy Places. He could not tolerate that infidels should possess the Holy Land. Why couldn’t he bear this? Because of the offense to the glory of God it represented. Those places are the places par excellence where true worship should be offered to God.

crusaders taking Antioch in the first crusade

Crusader knights take Antioch on the First Crusade
Second, he had called for a council to assemble for this reason. It was the Council of Clermont, a city in France. The scene permits us a glimpse – in small proportion – of all the beauty of the Catholic Church. You have the Pope, Blessed Urban II, who commanded as head over the council; then you have the conciliar Fathers surrounding the Pope, all moved by an authentic zeal for the glory of God – an attitude similar to Angels surrounding God. After that, you have the multitude of the faithful filled with piety and enthusiasm, in whose eyes shone the spirit of fight and sacrifice. Whole families were present, the women and daughters were there to give the men – their sons, husbands, and brothers – their full support. They understood that to liberate the Sepulcher of Christ they should offer the sacrifice of their loved ones leaving for the Crusade.

Third, I ask you to consider the thinking of Pope Urban II: “The Holy Sepulcher is in the hands of the infidels. Catholics can not go there to duly venerate it because it is in the possession of the enemies of the Church.” Then he asked: “Who can maintain a serene face before such a crime?”

A medieval depiction of knights liberating Jerusalem

Catholic knights liberating Jerusalem
Today one sees many serene and tranquil faces in the street, people looking for the good life, enjoying themselves, ready to tell the latest joke. And even when some of these people have concerned faces, their concern is normally for their private interests. Who really cares about the cause of the Church?

In that time men were different. When the Pope challenged them, asking them if they would maintain their serenity or go to fight for the Church, they did not hesitate. They were true servants of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They had the Catholic Church alive in their souls. They were willing to give up the peaceful life, even though it was legitimate. They arose as one man to take the cross and place it on the hilt of their swords, on their standards and shields, and on their breasts, and they made up that invincible avalanche that went forward to regain the Sepulcher of Christ. How different things were then from our times!

Fourth, Blessed Urban II said something that should enthuse and encourage us to face our difficult situation today. He affirmed that the unanimous voice of that multitude which called out its decision to take the cross and liberate the Holy Sepulcher proved that the Holy Ghost was acting there. He had the presupposition, therefore, that the Holy Ghost is present in heroic decisions of ensembles of peoples in Christendom.

Today, based on that same presupposition, we can ask for and hope that the Holy Ghost will come again to help Catholic warriors to liberate the Holy Church from the progressivist usurpation. The fight we are facing now in many senses is more important than the one to liberate the Holy Sepulcher. So, even if we are weak and sinners, we should ask Our Lady to obtain for us a new coming of the Holy Ghost, in a way similar to His descent on the multitudes at the time of the Crusades to prepare the people then for that fight. We should ask her to obtain from Him the grace that we need to transform us into true Apostles of the Last Times, making us able to restore the Catholic Church in all her splendor and to install the Reign of Mary, as Our Lady predicted at Fatima.


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Dr. Plinio
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.

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