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Statuette of a Female Priest

Statuette of a Female Priest

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In the years between 1594 and 1634, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a cloistered Conceptionist sister in Quito, Ecuador named Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres. During these forty years, Our Lady appeared to her asking that she wished to be known under the title of Nuestra Senora del Buen Suceso which in English translates to Our Lady of Good Success. She spoke to Mother Mariana about the future times that were to come for the Catholic Church particularly during the 20th Century. Our Blessed Mother described for her the grave crisis that would take place then in the Church and also society in general. In fact, the gravity of this crisis was conveyed so distinctly that it caused this poor sister to die from the effects of watching what was to happen to the Church in the future.

What was it that this good nun saw that caused her to die from the knowledge of the future? Our Lady told Mother Mariana that God was ready to punish the world for three main sins: blasphemy, impurity and heresy. Our Lady of Good Success prophesized to Mother Mariana about the “total corruption of customs” occurring at the end of the 19th and greater part of the 20th centuries due to the reign of Satan in society through Freemasonry. In this vision, Our Lady foretold that in these terrible times the sacraments would lose their importance and would not be held in high esteem among the faithful due to those who held a “position of authority”. In these times , these people would be used as tools of the devil to destroy the Church. Due to this deprivation of both sanctifying and sacramental graces amongst the faithful, many souls would be lost. Society itself would suffer greatly. A tremendous loss of vocations would be experienced.

In these visits, Our Lady spoke to Mother Mariana about the need for penances and suffering, prayer and self-denial for not only was it most pleasing to God, but it would be with these tools that the Convent would be able to sustain itself, the Church and the world. The Blessed Mother asked if she would be willing to become a victim soul for not only her convent and the people during the times in which she lived, but for the Church in future times which she had shown her. She told her that her Divine Son desired to give her “every type of suffering” in order to save souls. These visits were meant to instruct, guide and encourage Mother Mariana in her mission. Additionally, these apparitions contained many prophecies to demonstrate to Mother Mariana to know the dire state in which the Church would fall and also for future evidence to show the authenticity of these visions. These prophecies that were foretold would involve not only the local culture, society and government in Quito and Ecuador, but would also include the universal Church, society and culture in the world as a whole in the upcoming centuries.

One of the most striking of the prophetic visions occurred on the Feast of the Purification, February 2, 1634, the 40 th anniversary of the first appearance of Our Lady of Good Success to Mother Mariana. Mother Mariana was praying in the upper choir loft before the Blessed Sacrament, the Sanctuary lamp went out. Mother Mariana was left in complete darkness. The extinguishing of the Sanctuary Light signified the dire straits the Church would be in during this future epoch.

Our Lady of Good Success was quite clear on what would be the demise of the Catholic Church—the general theme-- a lax and perverse clergy. Certain members of the Catholic clergy would become as thieves stealing that Tabernacle light. thieves that would steal what is rightfully ours by virtue of our baptism in the Catholic Church—our Faith. They would rob us of Doctrine, Dogma and Tradition— ransacking the Church as it were leaving us in total darkness without even as much as the light of the Sanctuary Lamp (which signifies the presence of the Holy Eucharist-- -Jesus Christ, Himself). Our Lady of Good Success went into great detail to explain what the five reasons were for the extinguishing of the light.

The first reason why the lamp was snuffed out was because in the end of the 19 th Century and during the 20 th Century , heresies would prevail not only in Ecuador but universally. “As these heresies spread and dominate, the precious light of Faith will be extinguished in souls by the almost total corruption of customs.”

The second reason was that in these times the Conceptionist Community would shrink and even be infected with bad attitudes and false charity as a result of the pervading situation of the Church at the time. Many vocations would be lost as a direct result . (This was to be considered a reflection of a more universal condition during these times). However, “ The faithful souls would suffer a continuous and slow martyrdom, weeping in secret and imploring that such dire times be shortened.”

The third reason the lamp failed was due to the fact that during this century a worldwide campaign against the virtues of chastity, and purity would succeed in ruining the youth. Our Lady of Good Success affirmed, “There will be almost no virgin souls in the world ”

The fourth reason the lamp was put out was to demonstrate how the Masonic and other secret sects would have so much influence on society and even the Church. “During these unfortunate times,” she foretold, “evil will invade childhood innocence. In this way, vocations to the priesthood will be lost, resulting in a true calamity.”

Our Lady of Good Success could foresee that there would still be some good, faithful religious that would be willing to suffer all for the salvation of souls and sustenance of the Holy Catholic Church. . “The secular clergy will leave much to be desired because priests will become careless in their sacred duties. Lacking the divine compass, they will stray from the road traced by God for the priestly ministry, and they will become attached to wealth and riches, which they will unduly strive to attain. How the Church will suffer during this dark night! Lacking a prelate and a father to guide them . many priests will lose their spirit, placing their souls in great danger.” The poor priestly souls that would be left to uphold the Church would suffer greatly.

“Against them the impious will rage a cruel war, overwhelming them with vituperations, calumnies and vexations in order to stop them from fulfilling their ministry. But they, like firm columns, will remain unswerving and will confront everything with a spirit of humility and sacrifice with which they will be vested, by virtue of the infinite merits of my most Holy Son, Who will love them in the innermost fibers of His Most Holy and Tender Heart.

Our Lady of Good Success implored that the people of this time should “clamor insistently” to the Heavenly Father for an end to ‘these ominous times’ sending to the Church a prelate and father who would restore the spirit to the priests”.

The fifth reason the lamp went out was due to those who have the financial means to help the Church but do nothing. Because of their uncaring attitude toward God and His Church, they would have allowed evil to seemingly triumph.

On this day as well , t he Child Jesus prophesized to Mother Mariana the following (which lends credence to the other prophecies as we have seen these prophecies have already been fulfilled):

1. “The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception would be proclaimed during a time when the Church will be strongly attacked and my Vicar will find himself a prisoner”

2. “This will also be the case with the Dogma of the faith of the Transit or Assumption, body and soul into Heaven of My Most Holy Mother. ”

3. "I will preserve this Church, so beloved by Me, until the consummation of time. It will be strongly attacked, but never conquered. For, if men are lacking, from Heaven will I send down legions of Angels for its conservation, defense and triumph. Then He added: "A thousand times cursed be the heretics and their followers who place in doubt these mysteries concerning Me and My Mother. Let them be cursed! And let their eternal abode be the center of the earth, together with the father of the lie, Lucifer, and his henchmen, amidst the fire created by Divine Ire for the rebellious angels and the men who follow them, severing themselves from the truth outside the Catholic Church.”

Due to the extreme wickedness that Mother Mariana saw in these visions of our era, she fainted and remained unconscious for two days. The doctor, unable to revive her, expected her death to be at hand. But Mother Mariana miraculously awoke and returned to health to live another year.

Our Lady commands a statue to be made Our Lady of Good Success commanded a statue to be made to her likeness for the solace of the people stating:

“. now I ask and command you to have a statue to be made for the consolation and preservation of my convent and for those faithful souls of that epoch during which there will be a great devotion to me, for I am the Queen of Heaven under many invocations. With the making of this statue I will favor not only my convent, but also the people of Quito— and all the people throughout the centuries.”

Our Lady of Good Success also told Mother Mariana that this statue was to be made, for these reasons:

“First so that men in the future might realize how powerful I am in placating Divine Justice and obtaining mercy and pardon for every sinner who comes to me with a contrite heart. For I am the Mother of Mercy and in me there is only goodness and love.”

“And second . when tribulations of spirit and sufferings of the body oppress them and they seem to be drowning in this bottomless sea let them gaze at my holy image and I will always be there ready to listen to their cries and soothe their pain. Tell them that they should always run to their Mother with confidence and love. ”

Our Lady of Good Success had requested that a certain sculptor, Francisco del Castillo, who was known not only for his artistic ability but also for his virtue and devotion to the Blessed Mother, create the statue. This sculptor worked long and hard on this statue. When he was about to put the finishing coat of paint on the statue he decided he would go to find the best paints he could acquire that would be the most fitting for the faces of Mother of God and the Infant Jesus.

Archangels complete the statue While he was gone something miraculous happened. From the very first apparition, Our Lady had promised that she, herself, would see to the completion of this statue. While the sculptor was away, Mother Mariana and the other sisters went to the choir loft to implore Our Lady of Good Success to keep her promise.

Later, that night, Mother Mariana found the upper choir loft, illuminated with heavenly brilliance. The Archangels, Michael, Raphael and Gabriel appeared and bowed reverently before the Blessed Trinity as if acceding to a command. Then they stood before the Queen of Heaven and saluted her. The Archangels, along with St. Francis, drew near to the statue to miraculously finish it. Instantaneously completed, the statue was enveloped in light brighter than the sun and became animated as Our Queen and Mother entered into it singing the “Magnificat”. This most lovely of all visions took place at 3 o’clock on the morning of January 16, 1611.

When the Bishop was told of this miraculous occurrence, he ordered “ad aeternum” that a feast should be preceded by a Nine Day Novena 9 to Our Lady of Good Success beginning on January 24 culminating with her feast day on Candlemas Day, February 2 each year. And so it was and continues to be venerated and honored this same way each year. Our Lady specifically requested that her name be “Mary of Good Success of the Purification and Candlemas” and that this date, February 2, should be especially remembered since this date had always brought “great gifts and mercies” from Our Lady.

Finally, in closing, the words of Bishop Salvador de Ribera of Quito are printed below to demonstrate the ecclesiastical approval of this beautiful and timely devotion. On Feb 2, 1611, the day of the formal institution of the official devotion, the good bishop bestowed upon Our Lady of Good Success the keys of the cloister and the crosier into the hands of the miraculous statue with great reverence and honor, invoked her saying:

"My Lady, I deliver to Thee the Church. My Lady and my Mother, I deliver to Thee my soul. Open to me the doors of Heaven, for the life remaining to me is quite brief. Queen of Heaven and Earth, Thou who dost remain in Thy sanctuary governing Thy beloved flock, do not forget Thy poor children who are pilgrims on this earth, exposed to falls at every step. Let Thy arm sustain us and let the sweet love of Thy maternal Heart console us in our deep tribulations."

The graces and miracles that occurred during Mother Mariana’s life and after her death through the intercession of Our Lady of Good Success are too numerous to mention here. There were many other prophesies that have come to pass as well. Mother Mariana de Jesus was a mystic, prophetess, seer, and victim soul, who lived in Quito, Ecuador during its foundation as a Colony of Spain. Her life parallels only the greatest of the Church’s canonized saints such as St. Theresa of Avila and St. Catherine Siena. The details of all of her life’s sufferings accumulated into one lifelong martyrdom.

The Apostolate of Our Lady of Good Success is a non-profit (501 c3) corporation. Your tax-deductible donation is greatly appreciated and will be used to support the Apostolate of Our Lady of Good Success, the Conceptionist Convent, and Carmen Alto.

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Father Hugonard opened the school in 1884, west of the Village of Lebret. It was one of the first industrial schools to open, and was the last to close in Canada in 1998. The monument of him was created in 1926 and stood near the entrance of the school until the late 1990s, when it was moved to the Sacred Heart Catholic cemetery.

The monument of Father Hugonard was created in 1926 and stood near the entrance of the school. When the school closed in the late 1990s, Micheal Starr, chief of Star Blanket Cree Nation, said the town approached the reserve about the statue. Star Blanket Cree Nation then gave it to the people of Lebret, and the monument was moved to the Sacred Heart Catholic cemetery.

A person who attended the school for 12 years - who asked to remain anonymous - told CTV News the state was a ‘domineering presence,’ and reminder to “‘Be a good little Indian’ as the priests and nuns were the overall authority over all aspects of our lives.”

Starr said he is also supportive of having the statue removed.

The True Story of the Monuments Men

Captain Robert Posey and Pfc. Lincoln Kirstein were the first through the small gap in the rubble blocking the ancient salt mine at Altausee, high in the Austrian Alps in 1945 as World War II drew to a close in May 1945. They walked past one sidechamber in the cool damp air and entered a second one, the flames of their lamps guiding the way.

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There, resting on empty cardboard boxes a foot off the ground, were eight panels of The Adoration of the Lamb by Jan van Eyck, considered one of the masterpieces of 15th-century European art. In one panel of the altarpiece, the Virgin Mary, wearing a crown of flowers, sits reading a book.

"The miraculous jewels of the Crowned Virgin seemed to attract the light from our flickering acetylene lamps," Kirstein wrote later. "Calm and beautiful, the altarpiece was, quite simply, there."

Kirstein and Posey were two members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section of the Allies, a small corps of mostly middle-aged men and a few women who interrupted careers as historians, architects, museum curators and professors to mitigate combat damage. They found and recovered countless artworks stolen by the Nazis.

Their work was largely forgotten to the general public until an art scholar, Lynn H. Nicholas, working in Brussels, read an obituary about a French woman who spied on the Nazis’ looting operation for years and singlehandedly saved 60,000 works of art. That spurred Nicholas to spend a decade researching her 1995 book, The Rape of Europa, which began the resurrection of their story culminating with the movie, The Monuments Men, based upon Robert Edsel’s 2009 book of the same name. The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art holds the personal papers and oral history interviews of a number of the Monuments Men as well as photographs and manuscripts from their time in Europe.

"Without the [Monuments Men], a lot of the most important treasures of European culture would be lost," Nicholas says. "They did an extraordinary amount of work protecting and securing these things."

The Monuments Men

In a race against time, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture by Nazis.

Nowhere, notes Nicholas, were more of those treasures collected than at Altaussee, where Hitler stored the treasures intended for his Fuhrermuseum in Linz, Austria, a sprawling museum complex that Hitler planned as a showcase for his plunder. On that first foray, Kirstein and Posey (portrayed in pseuodyminity by actors Bob Balaban and Bill Murray, respectively) had also discovered Michelangelo’s Madonna, which was spirited out of Bruges, Belgium, by the Nazis in September 1944 as the Allies advanced on the city. Within days, they’d also found priceless works by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

They summoned the only Monuments Man for the job, George Stout, who had pioneered new techniques of art conservation before the war working at Harvard's Fogg Museum. Early in the war, Stout (given the name Frank Stokes as played by George Clooney in the film) unsuccessfully campaigned for the creation of a group like the Monuments Men with both American and British authorities. Frustrated, the World War I veteran enlisted in the Navy and developed aircraft camouflage techniques until transferred to a small corps of 17 Monuments Men in December 1944.

Stout had been crossing France, Germany and Belgium recovering works, often traveling in a Volkswagen captured from the Germans.  He was one of a handful of Monuments Men regularly in forward areas, though his letters home to his wife, Margie, mentioned only "field trips."

Monuments Men like Stout often operated alone with limited resources. In one journal entry, Stout said he calculated the boxes, crates, and packing materials needed for a shipment.  "No chance of getting them," he wrote in April 1945.

So they made do. Stout transformed German sheepskin coats and gas masks into packing materials. He and his small band of colleagues rounded up guards and prisoners to pack and load. "Never anywhere in peace or war could you expect to see more selfless devotion, more dogged persistence in going on, much of the time alone and empty-handed, to get it done," Stout wrote to a stateside friend in March 1945.

The Allies knew of Altaussee thanks to a toothache. Two months earlier, Posey was in the ancient city of Trier in eastern Germany with Kirstein and needed treatment. The dentist he found introduced him to his son-in-law, who was hoping to earn safe passage for his family to Paris, even though he had helped Herman Goering, Hitler’s second-in-command, steal trainload after trainload of art. The son-in-law told them the location of Goering's collection as well as Hitler's stash at Altaussee.

Hitler claimed Altaussee as the perfect hideaway for loot intended for his Linz museum. The complex series of tunnels had been mined by the same families for 3,000 years, as Stout noted in his journal. Inside, the conditions were constant, between 40 and 47 degrees and about 65 percent humidity, ideal for storing the stolen art. The deepest tunnels were more than a mile inside the mountain, safe from enemy bombs even if the remote location was discovered. The Germans built floors, walls, and shelving as well as a workshop deep in the chambers. From 1943 through early 1945, a stream of trucks transported tons of treasures into the tunnels. 

When Stout arrived there on May 21, 1945, shortly after hostilities ended, he chronicled the contents based on Nazi records: 6,577 paintings, 2,300 drawings or watercolors, 954 prints, 137 pieces of sculpture, 129 pieces of arms and armor, 79 baskets of objects, 484 cases of objects thought to be archives, 78 pieces of furniture, 122 tapestries, 1,200-1,700 cases apparently books or similar, and 283 cases contents completely unknown. The Nazis had built elaborate storage shelving and a conservation workshop deep within the mine, where the main chambers were more than a mile inside the mountain.

Stout also noted that there were plans for the demolition of the mine. Two months earlier, Hitler had issued the “Nero Decree,” which stated in part:

All military transport and communication facilities, industrial establishments and supply depots, as well as anything else of value within Reich territory, which could in any way be used by the enemy immediately or within the foreseeable future for the prosecution of the war, will be destroyed.

The Nazi district leader near Altaussee, August Eigruber, interpreted the Fuhrer’s words as an order to destroy any objects of value, which required the demolition of the mines so the artwork would not fall into enemy hands. He moved eight crates into the mines in April. They were marked "Marble - Do Not Drop," but actually contained 1,100 pound bombs.

"Adoration of the Mystic Lamb," also known as the Ghent Altarpiece, by Jan van Eyck was one of the most notable works found in the Altausse mine. (Wikicommons)

His plans, however, were thwarted by a combination of local miners wanting to save their livelihood and Nazi officials who considered Eigruber’s plan folly, according to books by Edsel and Nicholas. The mine director convinced Eigruber to set smaller charges to augment the bombs, then ordered the bombs removed without the district leader’s knowledge. On May 3, days before Posey and Kirstein entered, the local miners removed the crates with the large bombs. By the time Eigruber learned, it was too late. Two days later, the small charges were fired, closing the mine's entrances, sealing the art safely inside.

Stout originally thought the removal would take place over a year, but that changed in June 1945 when the Allies began to set the zones of post-VE day Europe and Altaussee seemed destined for Soviet control, meaning some of Europe’s great art treasures could disappear into Joseph Stalin’s hands. The Soviets had “Trophy Brigades” whose job was to plunder enemy treasure (it’s estimated they stole millions of objects, including Old Master drawings, paintings, and books).

 Stout was told to move everything by July 1. It was an impossible order.

"Loaded less than two trucks by 11:30," Stout wrote on June 18. "Too slow. Need larger crew."

By June 24, Stout extended the workday to 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., but the logistics were daunting. Communication was difficult he was often unable to contact Posey. There weren't enough trucks for the trip to the collecting point, the former Nazi Party headquarters, in Munich, 150 miles away. And the ones he got often broke down. There wasn't enough packing material. Finding food and billets for the men proved difficult. And it rained. "All hands grumbling," Stout wrote.

By July 1, the boundaries had not been settled so Stout and his crew moved forward. He spent a few days packing the Bruges Madonna, which Nicholas describes as “looking very much like a large Smithfield ham.” On July 10, it was lifted onto a mine cart and Stout walked it to the entrance, where it and the Ghent altarpiece were loaded onto trucks. The next morning Stout accompanied them to the Munich collecting point.

On July 19, he reported that 80 truckloads, 1,850 paintings, 1,441 cases of paintings and sculpture, 11 sculptures, 30 pieces of furniture and 34 large packages of textiles had been removed from the mine. There was more, but not for Stout who left on the RMS Queen Elizabeth on Aug. 6 to return to home on his way to a second monuments tour in Japan. In her book, Nicholas says Stout, during just more than a year in Europe, had taken one and a half days off.

Stout rarely mentioned his central role campaigning for the Monuments Men and then saving countless pieces of priceless art during the war. He spoke about the recoveries at Altaussee and two other mines briefly in that 1978 oral history, but spent most of the interview talking about his museum work.

But Lincoln Kirstein didn’t hold back to his biographer. Stout, he said, “was the greatest war hero of all time – he actually saved all the art that everybody else talked about.”

Joan of Arc is burned at the stake for heresy

At Rouen in English-controlled Normandy, Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who became the savior of France, is burned at the stake for heresy.

Joan was born in 1412, the daughter of a tenant farmer at Domremy, on the borders of the duchies of Bar and Lorraine. In 1415, the Hundred Years War between England and France entered a crucial phase when the young King Henry V of England invaded France and won a series of decisive victories against the forces of King Charles VI. By the time of Henry’s death in August 1422, the English and their French-Burgundian allies controlled Aquitaine and most of northern France, including Paris. Charles VI, long incapacitated, died one month later, and his son, Charles, regent from 1418, prepared to take the throne. However, Reims, the traditional city of French coronation, was held by the Anglo-Burgundians, and the Dauphin (heir apparent to the French throne) remained uncrowned. Meanwhile, King Henry VI of England, the infant son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois, the daughter of Charles VI, was proclaimed king of France by the English.

Joan’s village of Domremy lay on the frontier between the France of the Dauphin and that of the Anglo-Burgundians. In the midst of this unstable environment, Joan began hearing “voices” of three Christian saints—St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret. When she was about 16, these voices exhorted her to aid the Dauphin in capturing Reims and therefore the French throne. In May 1428, she traveled to Vaucouleurs, a stronghold of the Dauphin, and told the captain of the garrison of her visions. Disbelieving the young peasant girl, he sent her home. In January 1429, she returned, and the captain, impressed by her piety and determination, agreed to allow her passage to the Dauphin at Chinon.

Dressed in men’s clothes and accompanied by six soldiers, she reached the Dauphin’s castle at Chinon in February 1429 and was granted an audience. Charles hid himself among his courtiers, but Joan immediately picked him out and informed him of her divine mission. For several weeks, Charles had Joan questioned by theologians at Poitiers, who concluded that, given his desperate straits, the Dauphin would be well-advised to make use of this strange and charismatic girl.

Charles furnished her with a small army, and on April 27, 1429, she set out for Orleans, besieged by the English since October 1428. On April 29, as a French sortie distracted the English troops on the west side of Orleans, Joan entered unopposed by its eastern gate. She brought greatly needed supplies and reinforcements and inspired the French to a passionate resistance. She personally led the charge in several battles and on May 7 was struck by an arrow. After quickly dressing her wound, she returned to the fight, and the French won the day. On May 8, the English retreated from Orleans.

During the next five weeks, Joan and the French commanders led the French into a string of stunning victories over the English. On July 16, the royal army reached Reims, which opened its gates to Joan and the Dauphin. The next day, Charles VII was crowned king of France, with Joan standing nearby holding up her standard: an image of Christ in judgment. After the ceremony, she knelt before Charles, joyously calling him king for the first time.

On September 8, the king and Joan attacked Paris. During the battle, Joan carried her standard up to the earthworks and called on the Parisians to surrender the city to the king of France. She was wounded but continued to rally the king’s troops until Charles ordered an end to the unsuccessful siege. That year, she led several more small campaigns, capturing the town of Saint-Pierre-le-Moitier. In December, Charles ennobled Joan, her parents, and her brothers.

In May 1430, the Burgundians laid siege to Compiegne, and Joan stole into the town under the cover of darkness to aid in its defense. On May 23, while leading a sortie against the Burgundians, she was captured. The Burgundians sold her to the English, and in March 1431 she went on trial before ecclesiastical authorities in Rouen on charges of heresy. Her most serious crime, according to the tribunal, was her rejection of church authority in favor of direct inspiration from God. After refusing to submit to the church, her sentence was read on May 24: She was to be turned over to secular authorities and executed. Reacting with horror to the pronouncement, Joan agreed to recant and was condemned instead to perpetual imprisonment.

Ordered to put on women’s clothes, she obeyed, but a few days later the judges went to her cell and found her dressed again in male attire. Questioned, she told them that St. Catherine and St. Margaret had reproached her for giving in to the church against their will. She was found to be a relapsed heretic and on May 29 ordered handed over to secular officials. On May 30, Joan, 19 years old, was burned at the stake at the Place du Vieux-Marche in Rouen. Before the pyre was lit, she instructed a priest to hold high a crucifix for her to see and to shout out prayers loud enough to be heard above the roar of the flames.

As a source of military inspiration, Joan of Arc helped turn the Hundred Years&apos War firmly in France’s favor. By 1453, Charles VII had reconquered all of France except for Calais, which the English relinquished in 1558. In 1920, Joan of Arc, one of the great heroes of French history, was recognized as a Christian saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Her feast day is May 30.

Mohandas K. Gandhi Statue

The bronze sculpture of Mohandas K. Gandhi is located in the San Francisco Ferry Building, San Francisco, California. A gift from the Gandhi Memorial International Foundation, the eight-foot-tall statue has caused some controversy. In 2010, a group called the ‘Organization for Minorities of India’ protested against the monument, demanding its removal due to them believing Gandhi was a racist ‘who harbored violent urges.’

In St. Louis, History and Nostalgia Battle It Out

Before the Gateway Arch went up in St. Louis in 1965, a bronze equestrian monument outside of the city’s main art museum was arguably its most recognizable symbol. Installed in 1906, the Apotheosis of St. Louis depicts the city’s namesake, Louis IX of France, riding astride an armored horse, his sword raised upside down to form a cross. It’s a portrayal befitting a ruler renowned for his military prowess. But the statue fails to address the canonized king’s darker legacy—the totality of his accomplishments—and now, amid a spate of protests against systemic racism in the United States, the St. Louis monument is one of many public works at the center of a major cultural reckoning.

In recent years, events including white supremacist Dylann Roof’s June 2015 killing of nine church members in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as a neo-Nazi’s attack on counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, have refocused attention on the prevalence—and meaning—of the memorials that dot the American landscape. Throughout, scholars and politicians alike have highlighted the importance of understanding why and when these statues were erected. A majority of the public has, in just the past few weeks, begun supporting the removal of these statues, and they have slowly begun to fall.

As protesters expand their focus to other controversial memorials across the country, it’s become all the more apparent that this conversation is not simply about the Confederacy, but what values the nation chooses to commemorate and celebrate in public. Statues of Christopher Columbus are falling as protesters cite his role in the genocide of America’s Native populations. And in St. Louis, groups are clashing over whether to remove the statue of the monarch who lends the city its name.

Louis IX’s acts as king certainly included care for the Christian poor—but they also encompassed moments of vicious anti-Judaism. (Ryan Ashelin via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY 3.0)

Louis IX reigned over France in the middle of the 13th century. Like most medieval sovereigns, he implemented legal reforms and provided charity to the Christian poor. More significantly, Louis personally led two Crusades to North Africa against Muslims—the first to Egypt in 1248, and the second to Tunisia in 1270. These campaigns were simply a brief chapter in a much larger drama that saw Christians wage holy war throughout the Mediterranean world against Muslims, Jews, and sometimes their fellow Christians. The impact of the Crusades cannot be overstated, as this movement shaped the cultural, social, and economic direction of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East for centuries. Indeed, it continues to haunt the modern imagination.

Both of Louis IX’s Crusades failed spectacularly, with the king captured by the Egyptians and ransomed for an enormous sum in 1250 and dying of dysentery almost immediately upon arriving in Tunisia in 1270. Louis was canonized—largely for these efforts—in 1297, and he’s served as a symbol of France’s glorious past ever since. So, when French trappers established a fur-trading post on Cahokia lands in 1764, they named the site in honor of two kings: Louis IX and then-sovereign Louis XV. The settlement retained the name through French, Spanish and finally American occupation.

The Apotheosis of St. Louis came about in the afterglow of the city’s debut on the international stage with the 1904 World’s Fair. Erected in plaster at the fair’s entrance, it was flanked at its base by a female representation of the city, as well as images of two young boys who acted as the event’s “guiding spirits.” Though it was torn down along with all of the other temporary structures at the end of the fair, the statue proved to be a popular meeting point and favorite among artists and journalists. In October 1906, the work was recreated in bronze as a gift to the city from the fair’s organizers and unveiled by the mayor with great fanfare. The equestrian statue matched the times, seeming to fit not only Civil War statuary going up at that same time, but early 20th-century American imperial pretensions more generally.

The statue was only formally designated as a city monument in 1971, during the creation of a special cultural district encompassing the zoo and art museum, but the bronze Louis has long served as an informal, largely uncontroversial civic symbol.

A protest at the Apotheosis of St. Louis (statue of King Louis IX) outside the art museum on Art Hill has begun. pic.twitter.com/ifwJUkj1uB

— Joel Currier (@joelcurrier) June 27, 2020

Now, as protesters citing Louis’ history as a crusader call for the statue’s removal, counter-protesters, organized in part by an alt-right conspiracy theorist and supported by members of St. Louis’ Catholic community, ardently protect it. These demonstrators have prayed the rosary on successive nights, and one priest even blessed the statue with a (supposed) relic of the saint.

In late June, another priest stood at the base of the statue and spoke through a megaphone, claiming he was there to offer a history lesson of his own: “St. Louis was a man who willed to use his kingship to do good to his people.”

The day after this confrontation, the archdiocese of the city released a statement defending not just the statue, but the memory of St. Louis as a person, in terms similar to what the priest said. Arguing that the monument represents “respect for one’s neighbor,” the archdiocese lists examples of the Louis’ judicial reforms and charity toward the poor as the basis for his 1297 canonization. The statement continues, “For St. Louisans, he is a model for how we should care for our fellow citizen[s], and a namesake with whom we should be proud to identify.”

But as the Jewish and Islamic communities of St. Louis point out, the archdiocese only detailed part of the story. Louis IX’s acts as king certainly included care for the Christian poor—but they also encompassed moments of vicious anti-Judaism, including the burning of Talmuds in Paris in the 1240s the arrest of all Jews in France and confiscation of their property in 1268 and the segregation of Christians and Jews, who were forced to wear a yellow star on their clothes as of 1269.

The protesters’ focus on Louis IX’s Crusades stands paramount much as it did during the 13th century. When Louis was canonized in 1297, Pope Boniface VIII justified his sainthood by mentioning not only his care for the (Christian) poor, but his Crusades and defense of the Church against its “enemies.” Even as late as the 1830 French invasion of Algeria, Louis was held up as a model for the colonizers, primarily for his martial spirit—a Christian king fighting against non-believers.

Vintage postcard featuring the Apotheosis of St. Louis statue (Photo by Found Image Holdings / Corbis via Getty Images)

The lines of history that run through this monument are therefore confused. We have an early 20th-century bronze statue representing a 13th-century medieval king who serves as the namesake for a present-day city founded in the late 18th century. Now, in June 2020, a local Catholic community is rallying to the defense of that statue, which sits not in or near a church, but outside of an art museum.

In other ways, that confusion might, paradoxically, be clarifying. As historians who have written about how the modern world remembers the European Middle Ages, we untangle this knot by differentiating between the ways people think about the past, distinguishing between nostalgia and history. In the American imagination, the Middle Ages exist in an odd place—a part of the nation’s history but also apart from it. Most people think of the period as one of darkness, ignorance and violence (think “Game of Thrones”), but at the same time, whimsical, simple and pure (think Monty Python). It’s a blank space, or “dark age,” upon which we press contemporary concerns that we don’t want to believe are part of the modern world.

This line of thinking erroneously suggests that medieval people didn’t have to deal with issues of race, but remained plagued by violence modern humans have since moved beyond. Both tall tales are grounded in nostalgia, or comforting misconceptions that allow us to tell stories about ourselves. The historians’ job is to always say, “No, it’s more complicated than that. There is more context, more voices to consider.” That’s history.

The priests and counter-protesters, echoed by the archdiocese in its statement, see the attack on the statue not just as an attempt to “erase the past,” but as an attack on their religion. They perceive the statue through the lens of nostalgia, attempting to create a singular understanding of the past in order to lock observers into a particular political agenda: against the Black Live Matters protests toppling monuments across the U.S. This attempt is made even more explicit by the newfound religious devotion to the site, complete with blessings and prayer vigils.

These demonstrators want the statue to mean one thing. They want nostalgia. But the past is messy. Perhaps contrary to our expectations, the protesters in St. Louis are, in the words of Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot, taking history “in their own hands.” Those speaking out against the statue understand that it represents both a city at a crossroads among different communities and a history of state violence against Native and black Americans, from Indian removal under Andrew Jackson to police killings of Michael Brown and Anthony Lamar Smith. They know that it was built for a World’s Fair now famous for its racism, even as it was the leading image of civic pride until the construction of the Gateway Arch (itself, of course, a contested symbol built upon the destruction of a historically black neighborhood). In other words, they know well the history of racial inequality and violence in their city so well chronicled in a recent book by Walter Johnson, Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States. They know the statue commemorates a king who both fed the poor and persecuted Jews and Muslims.

This, ultimately is the battle for St. Louis: nostalgia versus history. Nostalgia wants a simple story it wants to sell you something. History is messy. History brings up stories we might not otherwise want to discuss but should, in truth, know. It dispels rainbow connections to the past that skip over the “bad” stuff to focus on the “good.” It dispels the myths that erect monuments, be they of a Confederate general, a Genoese ship captain who stumbled upon the Caribbean, or a French saint and king.

Matthew Gabriele is a professor of medieval studies in the department of religion and culture at Virginia Tech. David Perry is a journalist and senior academic adviser to the history department at the University of Minnesota. Follow them, respectively, on Twitter at @prof_gabriele and @lollardfish.

About David M. Perry

David M. Perry is a freelance journalist covering politics, history, education, and disability rights. He was previously a professor of medieval history at Dominican University from 2006-2017.

Multiple Catholic Priests Expose The Practice of “Satanism” Within The Vatican

Arjun Walia 14 minute read

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The works of multiple scholars, from Plato to Manly P. Hall and further down the line, suggest it is essentially the use of rituals and techniques to invoke and control “spirits” or lifeforms that could be existing within other dimensions or worlds. For example, according to Hall, “a magician, enveloped in sanctified vestments and carrying a wand inscribed with hieroglyphic figures, could by the power vested in certain words and symbols control the invisible inhabitants of the elements and of the astral world. While the elaborate ceremonial magic of antiquity was not necessarily evil, there arose from its perversion several false schools of sorcery, or black magic.”

A distinction is made early in the article about black magic and white magic. Basically, black magic is the process of using entities to accomplish a goal through ceremonial magic.

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“By means of the secret processes of ceremonial magic it is possible to contact these invisible creatures and gain their help in some human undertaking. Good spirits willingly lend their assistance to any worthy enterprise, but evil spirits serve only those who live to pervert and destroy. . . . The most dangerous form of black magic is the scientific perversion of occult power for the gratification of personal desire.”

In his book, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, he goes on to describe how the elites in ancient Egypt, all the way up to the present day, have used these concepts in conjunction with their desire to completely control our world. Today, it starts with the government, up through the corporations and further along up the pyramid into our major financial institutions, into the Vatican and beyond.

Religion is interesting, to say the least. On one hand, you have multiple religions preaching the same message at their core, and, on the other hand, it’s not uncommon to come across several contradictions between them all. Don’t forget about different interpretations of the same religion, which has created ‘mini-religion’ spin-offs which take these different interpretations into account. Obviously, multiple religions and their own interpretation of reality resonate with millions of people, and that’s because they preach a message of peace, love, non-violence and good-will.

It’s hard to understand how conflict (like war) can arise with religion being the catalyst, especially if most preach a message of peace and love. This means that all those who claim to fight in the name of religion, must have a twisted understanding of the religion they claim, or, something else is going on… It’s completely hypocritical.

A great modern day example would be the “Islamic State.” Today, it’s not a perspective that’s commonly expressed by mainstream media, but despite that, multiple professors, politicians and more have emphasized that the Islamic Sate, the group the United States and their allies claim to be fighting against, is actually a creation of the United States (and their allies) themselves. You can read more about that here.

This is supported by more than just research and insider witness testimony, but by multiple documents that have surfaced, as well as multiple examples. It’s called false flag terrorism, and it’s been around for decades. The greatest example of this could be 9/11, an event created and used in order to justify the invasion of another country, and impose ‘their’ own ideas and political will on other countries, as well as globalization and resource extraction. This tragic event served as a big catalyst with regards to more people becoming aware of extreme corruption within our own governments.

They’ve had plans to do this for years, with multiple countries, as emphasized years ago by Four Star General, and NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark. As he says, there are no legitimate reasons to go to war. Are the “powers that be” manufacturing problems so they themselves can propose the solution?

In this way, and many others, religion has been used. It’s become dogma, rather than a question for knowledge, wisdom, truth, and spiritual guidelines, and a tool to push elitist political agendas. It’s been used to manipulate the decisions and behaviours of others, as well as close off their minds to new information that’s emerging which challenge the belief system of that particular religion. It’s also been used, in some cases, to drive a tremendous amount of fear into the mass population.

There, in my opinion, appears to be deliberate manipulation of human consciousness when it comes to various religions. Based on my understanding, most of the wisdom we did have was burned, hidden, taken and done away with.

This narrative has been emphasized by multiple people from within the field. Jon Shelby Spong, a retired American Bishop, for example, told the world that “religion is always in the control business, and that’s something people don’t really understand. It’s in the guilt producing control business.”

Perhaps this is why so many aspects of religion resonate with people, yet so many others, like the fear of harsh punishment, doesn’t.

If we examine the cultures that pre-dated modern day religion, most had a ‘spiritual’ understanding which connected them all, and, there are more examples of commonalities, and hardly any examples of conflicting information when it comes to guidelines for ones life and the description of what we call reality.

There are also multiple stories of Jesus travelling to the far east to obtain knowledge and wisdom from these spiritual teachers. This is also elaborated on by Hall, among many other scholars like him.

The information given to us by modern day religion might be a complete mix of truth, manipulation and lies all wrapped into one story.

Theodor Roosevelt once said of politics that, instead of instruments to promote the general welfare of all people, political parties have become “tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes.” Modern day mass religion has become the same thing.

When man started to conquer the world, and events like the burning of the Library of Alexandria took place, the world lost a wealth of information and knowledge, and the conquerers seemed to be on a mission of indoctrination. Perhaps the best example would be the stripping of indigenous wisdom from Native North Americans, and the process of indoctrination into a completely new belief system, one that denounced many teachings of their elders prior.

Today, even questioning the beliefs that are given to one via their religion can be met with a harsh response. If we as a collective are so ingrained in our beliefs, how can we ever be open to new ideas pertaining to the nature of reality?

Religions and people’s interpretations of them have been adjusted for years, spiritual teachings and concepts that pre-date religion have not, which is why we at Collective Evolution resonate deeply with what many call “Spirituality.” That being said, even spirituality has transformed into something completely different today, with multiple ‘new age’ type dogmas emerging, modern day spirituality seems, in some sense, to be its own religion.

We are also very interested in the science of spirituality, because they tend to merge a lot. We now know that matter is not the only reality. There is a reason that most of our founding fathers of science were spiritual mystics.

The Vatican, One of The Best Examples

(Painting on the left done by Michael Pacher) The Vatican might be one of the best examples of potential manipulation. In the view of the public, the Vatican and its many representatives from all over the world represent a force of love and peace, at least that’s how they portray themselves. Despite this fact, and especially over the past few years, representatives of the Vatican have been accused and caught molesting children, and ties to large pedophilia rings have been discovered. The Vatican has had to spend billions of dollars settling and dealing with pedophilia cases, this is no secret.

Unfortunately, many of these children are, it seems, used in various ‘Satanic type rituals.’ The Vatican claims to be following the word of ‘God,’ but multiple insiders have come forth speaking about the predominant practice of Satanism within the Vatican.

In Hall’s book, he provides many examples of how ceremonial magic, sorcery, and more were all practiced, and are a driving force among some very powerful people. He goes into the hows, whats and why, but that which used to be pure, according to Hall, was taken and perverted by the world’s elite, who, according to him and many others, still practice “black magic” till this day.

I go into more detail into this article:

For example, according to Malachi Martin, an Irish Catholic priest and writer on the Catholic Church. Originally ordained as a Jesuit priest, he became Professor of Palaeography at the Vatican’s Pontifical Biblical Institute.

“Most frighteningly for [Pope] John Paul [II], he had come up against the irremovable presence of a malign strength in his own Vatican and in certain bishops’ chanceries. It was what knowledgeable Churchmen called the ‘superforce.’ Rumors, always difficult to verify, tied its installation to the beginning of Pope Paul VI’s reign in 1963. Indeed Paul had alluded somberly to ‘the smoke of Satan which has entered the Sanctuary’. . . an oblique reference to an enthronement ceremony by Satanists in the Vatican. Besides, the incidence of Satanic pedophilia – rites and practices – was already documented among certain bishops and priests as widely dispersed as Turin, in Italy, and South Carolina, in the United States. The cultic acts of Satanic pedophilia are considered by professionals to be the culmination of the Fallen Archangel’s rites.”
(Written in Hall’s book about geopolitics and the Vatican, The Keys of This Blood, page 632)

On multiple occasions he spoke about Satanism being the predominant practice within the vatican.

The list of figures like Martin speaking of such things is a long one. The Reverend Gabriele Amorth is another example, he was an Italian Roman Catholic Priest, and an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, which is an administrative branch of the Catholic Church of Rome.

He claimed to have performed tens of thousands of exorcisms over his half a dozen plus decades as a Catholic Priest, and has mentioned a number of times how Satanism is practiced within the Vatican. He has also claimed that girls are commonly kidnapped by a gang of Vatican police and foreign diplomats. He claimed that these girls are recruited for Vatican parties, and crimes with a sexual motive.

Perversion and sexual rituals go hand and hand with Satanism. According to the Telegraph, and various other sources, Amorth was Holy See’s chief exorcist for 25 years.

“The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences… The evil influence of Satan was evident in the highest ranks of the Catholic hierarchy, with “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon.”

Alfred Kunz, a Catholic priest found murdered in a Church in ritualistic fashion after investigating reports of ritualistic child abuse by priests.

Again, the list goes on and it’s a long one.

Pope Francis

Sexual abuse scandals within the Vatican have been made public, and the Pope has been forced to comment on it many times. Whether he is involved or not is unknown, there may very well be good forces within the Vatican as well, and perhaps conflicts among those who are parts of the various orders.

Francis recently compared sexual child abuse to a “satanic mass,” which was interesting.

The Take-Away Message

The past five to six years have been quite the rollercoaster. The birth of multiple independent media outlets have shown the world that a lot more is going on behind the scenes than what we are presented with, or what the mainstream media chooses to present us with. Secrets have a way of emerging, they get so big that, eventually, mainstream media outlets have no choice but to pick up the story and, usually try to debunk. This is, in my opinion, a result of their relationship with powerful entities in several different ways. The relationship between government and mainstream media is one of many examples.

The point is, a lot of information is emerging that’s hard to believe, to the point where most people don’t want to believe it, or pay any attention to it. If we don’t pay attention to it, and bring the darkness to light, that means we can’t identify it and thus, efforts to stop it can’t even begin. Awareness is key.

That being said, it’s clear that the majority of the people resonate with love, caring, kindess, the Golden Rule and a better human experience for everybody. If those whom we deem our leaders, and those who have amassed tremendous amounts of power and influence are engaging in such activities, what does that tell you?

Can we continue to give those who have influence over the direction the human experience takes unlimited amounts of power? Are these really leaders? Or are they simply tools, puppets and people used to push an agenda of a small group of people who, above all, desire power more than anything else?

Our world has and is encountering so many problems, and for decades, our current system and forms of leadership have failed to act. There are so many instances where one is able to see that these people are really not concerned with making the world a better place.

It seems many are disguising themselves as bringers of good-will, doing “good” in the public eye, only to be engaging in “evil” behind closed doors.

The ability for the human race to make this world a better place is quite grand, and we’re living in a time where we no longer look towards the Barack Obamas, the Pope’s, the Clintons or the Trumps, but instead, we’re looking to ourselves. We are the change we want to see, and we can shift this human experience at any time. Once we begin to see and awaken to what’s really been taking place on our planet, our ability change the world increases tremendously.

If mass human attention was taken away from consumerism, for example, and the intent in everybody’s heart was a desire for a better world, the action steps would manifest, and they are manifesting.

It’s easy for us to label this as “good” or “bad,” “dark” and “light.” There is still a lot we don’t know, but at the end of the day these are just experiences that are happening on our planet, and if they don’t resonate with us, that’s a good indication that it’s a time for change.

Exposing this type of activity within powerful organizations that have tremendous ability to influence our world, be it the vatican, global politics, Hollywood, medicine, or finance, is all part of one big revelation and a process of transparency our world is currently going through.

The last thing I’d like to say is, judgement is not the answer. By that I mean, too often we judge the victimizer, and console the victim, when both parties need consolidation and love. Hurt people hurt people, and perhaps the “evil” in this world has its roots in a tremendous amount of fear and pain, and feel they can never really face the masses with truth and transparency and come clean, that is if they want to do that…

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Why Are There So Many Pedophile Priests In The Catholic Church?

Don Alfredo is a Brazilian man, although ethnically Mediterranean, that likes to write about culture and all degeneracy he sees. Alfie's a longtime traditionalist that despises neoconservatism and the new left's lunatics.

As you probably have heard in the news, earlier in August a Pennsylvania grand jury handed down a 1,356-page account of sexual abuse which involved around 1,000 kids and 300 priests during a period of approximately 70 years. It is another pedophilia scandal within the Catholic Church that adds up to their collection of countless other ones reported in recent years.

The commie pope—while on his two-day visit to Ireland—begged for forgiveness again, just the way he did in Chile back in January of this year.

You can notice how quick and scathing the mainstream media is to denounce these recurring events, after all we know who owns the MSM and the (real) Church has a long, well-known history of “anti-semitism” and resistance against the tentacles of globalism. I wish the media had the same commitment to inform the existence of other pedophile rings full of high-ranking people as well.

What about Hollywood? Remember Corey Feldman and Corey Haim? NXIVM and similar others? You won’t see the media going after it. Don’t fool yourself, darling! (Picture: Pope in Ireland)

Is the problem of the church’s innumerous sexual abuse allegations really pedophilia? To me there is a deeper explanation for it, and that explanation is: homosexualism. 81% of the alleged victims are male and three-fourths of them are post-pubescent. As you guys are certainly aware of, the Church has a very big issue with homosexualism among its clergymen.

I have a theory for the high presence of gay men inside priesthood: until not long ago being gay was definitely not ok, homosexuals were not accepted as they are now, so they became priests.

The developed Western world of today encourages people to become gay, it applauds individuals for their gayness, but it wasn’t always like that. Now, try to imagine a closeted homosexual man living in the 50s, for example. What a better place to go than the Catholic seminary? People wouldn’t look you down, you wouldn’t have to get married, the place was filled with other young men (potential sexual partners) and that’s how the Church got corrupted by perverts.

Pedophilia x Homosexualism

One normie could argue “how homosexualism relates to pedophilia?” Any red-pilled person who has ever wondered what causes someone to become gay will notice that there is an undeniable link between pedophilia and homosexualism.

Let’s remember the occasion of Milo Yiannopolous’ resignation from Breitbart over comments which seemed to endorse sex between “younger men” and older men. Something that is—as he pointed out—extremely common among gay men. A 2009 report revealed that 74 percent of bisexuals had been sexually abused as children, I am pretty sure homosexuals follow the same numbers.

I won’t say homosexual behavior is exclusively caused by pedophilia because human (or animal) sexuality is a very complex topic which can certainly involve many variables. I just don’t buy that “born this way” hype, until this day not a single reliable proof of the existence of a gay gene or anything like it was discovered.

The Vatican once bought a £21 million apartment block above ‘Europe’s largest gay sauna’.

Pope Francis, a champion of the left-leaning agenda inside the Church, has been accused of covering up former Cardinal McCarrick’s abuse allegations (one of the many cases in Pennsylvania). The accusations were made by Carlo Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador to the US, and if it proves to be true–I am positive it is—that should result in pope Francis’ resignation. As a traditionalist Catholic myself I would be delighted with such an event.

Francis has already been complacent with other pedos before. One good example is the 2015 ‘Synod on the Family’ when the pope invited Godfried Danneels, a Belgium Cardinal convicted of covering up pedophiles in the 90s, to attend the meeting. Danneels is a hard-left priest that tries to push the Church ” liberal reformation” and admitted that he was part of a plot against (right-leaning) Pope Benedict and in favor of the election of leftie Francis.

What Was Life Like for Women in the Viking Age?

Technically, women couldn’t even be Vikings. As Judith Jesch, author of “Women in the Viking Age” (1991), has pointed out, the Old Norse word “vikingar” only applied to men, usually to those men who embarked from Scandinavia in their famous long boats and sailed to such far-flung places as Britain, Europe, Russia, the North Atlantic islands and North America between roughly A.D. 800-1100.

But though these Vikings became infamous as fierce warriors and brutal raiders, they were also accomplished traders who established trade routes all over the world. They formed settlements, founded towns and cities (Dublin, for example) and left a lasting impact on the local languages and cultures of the places where they landed their ships.

While earlier historical research about the Vikings had theorized that the seafaring Norsemen traveled in male-only groups—perhaps due to a lack of desirable mates in Scandinavia𠅊 more recent study tells a very different story. In the newer study, published in late 2014, researchers used mitochondrial DNA evidence to show that Norse women joined their men for Viking Age migrations to England, the Shetland and Orkney Islands and Iceland, and were “important agents in the processes of migration and assimilation.” Especially in previously uninhabited areas such as Iceland, Norse women were vital to populating the new settlements and helping them thrive.

Like many traditional civilizations, Viking Age society at home and abroad was essentially male-dominated. Men did the hunting, fighting, trading and farming, while women’s lives centered around cooking, caring for the home and raising children. The majority of Viking burials found by archaeologists reflect these traditional gender roles: Men were generally buried with their weapons and tools, and women with household items, needlework and jewelry.

But women in Viking Age Scandinavia did enjoy an unusual degree of freedom for their day. They could own property, request a divorce and reclaim their dowries if their marriages ended. Women tended to marry between the ages of 12 and 15, and families negotiated to arrange those marriages, but the woman usually had a say in the arrangement. If a woman wanted a divorce, she had to call witnesses to her home and marriage bed, and declare in front of them that she had divorced her husband. The marriage contract usually stated how family property would be divided up in case of a divorce.

Though the man was the “ruler” of the house, the woman played an active role in managing her husband, as well as the household. Norse women had full authority in the domestic sphere, especially when their husbands were absent. If the man of the household died, his wife would adopt his role on a permanent basis, singlehandedly running the family farm or trading business. Many women in Viking Age Scandinavia were buried with rings of keys, which symbolized their roles and power as household managers.

Some women rose to a particularly high status. One of the grandest burials ever found in Scandinavia from that period belonged to the Oseberg “queen,” a woman who was buried in a sumptuously decorated ship along with many valuable grave goods in A.D. 834. Later in the ninth century, Aud the Deep-Minded, the daughter of a Norwegian chieftain in the Hebrides (islands off northern Scotland) married a Viking king based in Dublin. When her husband and son died, Aud uprooted her household and organized a ship voyage for herself and her grandchildren to Iceland, where she became one of the colony’s most important settlers.

Were there female warriors in Viking Age society? Though relatively few historical records mention the role of women in Viking warfare, the Byzantine-era historian Johannes Skylitzes did record women fighting with the Varangian Vikings in a battle against the Bulgarians in A.D. 971. In addition, the 12th-century Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus wrote that communities of “shieldmaidens” dressed like men and devoted themselves to learning swordplay and other warlike skills, and that some 300 of these shieldmaidens held the field in the Battle of Brávellir in the mid-eighth century. In his famous work Gesta Danorum, Saxo wrote of a shieldmaiden named Lagertha, who fought alongside the famous Viking Ragnar Lothbrok in a battle against the Swedes, and so impressed Ragnar with her courage that he sought and won her hand in marriage.

Most of what we know about women warriors in the Viking Age comes from literary works, including the romantic sagas Saxo called upon as some of his sources. Female warriors known as “Valkyries,” who may have been based on shieldmaidens, are certainly an important part of Old Norse literature. Given the prevalence of these legends, along with the greater rights, status and power they enjoyed, it certainly seems likely that women in Viking society did occasionally take up arms and fight, especially when someone threatened them, their families or their property.

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