12 October 2016

MedSeas Tour of Rhodes and Crete

A fellow knight of the Order of Malta has put together a wonderful tour of the former sites of the Knights of St. John on Rhodes. He is a professional tour operator, MedSeas Catholic Journeys, who has taken groups to Malta, the Camino de Santiago in Spain and Portugal, and a Saints, Knights and Wine tour in Italy. This promises to be a spectacular trip and I hope you will consider joining us next September, 2017. Visit the MedSeas website for more information and a detailed itinerary.

Rhodes – The Island of Sun: Discover Rhodes, surrounded by clear blue waters, it’s a land of ancient temples, castles and fortresses, all part of the rich history dating back to the Neolithic era. We will experience its ravishing coastlines, dramatic mountain scapes, classic small villages and historic monuments especially sites linked to the Knights of St. John.

Explore Rhodes and Crete and the History of the Knights of St. John

Chapel of the Knights of St. John Rhodes
Come see the historical home of the Knights of St. John on the island of Rhodes with MedSeas Catholic Journeys, September 22-29, 2017. There will be an optional extension to visit Crete from September 29th-October 3rd.

Some highlights of the trip will include:

Old Town of Rhodes – Knights of St. John • Grand Masters Palace • Archeological Museum  •  Village of Lindos  •  Castle & Acropolis of Lindos • Village of Archangelos  •  Valley of the Butterflies  •  Embona Village  • Anastasia’s Winery  • Castle of Kritinia – Knights of St. John  •  Island of Symi  •  Panormitis Monastery  •  Church of Our Lady of Filerimos  • Ancient city of Kamiros …and more

07 October 2016

Reflection on Battle of Lepanto by Fr. Rutler

Weekly Column by Fr. Rutler for October 2, 2016

October 2, 2016

by Fr. George W. Rutler
Our faith is based, not on abstract speculation, but on historical events. Christ does not hover around us as a philosophical idea, for he “was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The Church’s feasts are acts of thanksgiving for actions of God that have affected the course of human existence. On October 7, the Church celebrates the victory of Christian naval vessels over those of the Ottoman Muslims who outnumbered the Christians by more than two to one, and whose ships were manned by upwards of fifteen thousand Christian galley slaves.

   The Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was the greatest naval engagement until the Battle of Jutland in World War I, but it is not commemorated just as a lesson in the art of maritime war. The core of the feast is that it saved Christian civilization. Compared to it, July 4 and Waterloo and Gettysburg and D-Day are ancillary struggles to preserve what would not exist at all, had it not been for 1571. Pope St. Pius V, by divine inspiration while praying the Rosary, announced in the Church of Santa Sabina that a triumph of the Cross had been won, at the very moment the battle was won in the Gulf of Patras in western Greece, though news of it would have taken many days to reach Rome by courier.

   We revere the “Star Spangled Banner” whose broad stripes and bright stars gallantly streamed in 1814, but quite more remarkable was the banner held by Gianandrea Doria, great-nephew of the Admiral Andrea Doria, at Lepanto. It bore the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Lady had appeared in Mexico forty years earlier, but reproductions of the image had made it to old Europe, and King Philip of Spain had given one to the fleet. It has been preserved in the cathedral of Genoa. 

   Had the battle ended differently, Sultan Selim could have fulfilled his vow to conquer Rome, turning the basilica of Saint Peter into a mosque, despoiling and upending its bells so that they might be filled with oil and burned in honor of Allah, as had been done in 997 at the tomb of Saint James in Compostela.

   Is all this the dilettantish indulgence of the sort of people who watch the History Channel? We would not be here – nor would our holy religion, our universities, our science, our democracy, our enfranchised women, our justice, our social tolerance, and our entire moral fabric – were it not for Lepanto. The feast of its victory was instituted by Pope St. Pius V and, after the final defeat of the Ottomans in 1716 at TimiÈ™oara in present-day Romania, led by Prince Eugene of Savoy, Pope Clement XI made it a universal feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Given the terrors of our present times, it would be well to pray the Rosary on October 7.      

02 October 2016

From Pastoral Guide of Pope St Gregory the Great

A word of advice to pastors, and even Popes. 

From the Pastoral Guide by Saint Gregory the Great, pope
(Lib. 2, 4: PL 77, 30-31)

Let the pastor be discreetly silent, and to the point when he speaks

A spiritual guide should be silent when discretion requires and speak when words are of service. Otherwise he may say what he should not or be silent when he should speak. Indiscreet speech may lead men into error and an imprudent silence may leave in error those who could have been taught. Pastors who lack foresight hesitate to say openly what is right because they fear losing the favor of men. As the voice of truth tells us, such leaders are not zealous pastors who protect their flocks, rather they are like mercenaries who flee by taking refuge in silence when the wolf appears.

The Lord reproaches them through the prophet: They are dumb dogs that cannot bark. On another occasion he complains: You did not advance against the foe or set up a wall in front of the house of Israel, so that you might stand fast in battle on the day of the Lord. To advance against the foe involves a bold resistance to the powers of this world in defense of the flock. To stand fast in battle on the day of the Lord means to oppose the wicked enemy out of love for what is right.

When a pastor has been afraid to assert what is right, has he not turned his back and fled by remaining silent? Whereas if he intervenes on behalf of the flock, he sets up a wall against the enemy in front of the house of Israel. Therefore, the Lord again says to his unfaithful people: Your prophets saw false and foolish visions and did not point out your wickedness, that you might repent of your sins. The name of prophet is sometimes given in the sacred writings to teachers who both declare the present to be fleeting and reveal what is to come. The word of God accuses them of seeing false visions because they are afraid to reproach men for their faults and thereby lull the evildoer with an empty promise of safety. Because they fear reproach, they keep silent and fail to point out the sinner’s wrongdoing.

The word of reproach is a key that unlocks a door, because reproach reveals a fault of which the evildoer is himself often unaware. That is why Paul says of the bishop: He must be able to encourage men in sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For the same reason God tells us through Malachi: The lips of the priest are to preserve knowledge, and men shall look to him for the law, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. Finally, that is also the reason why the Lord warns us through Isaiah: Cry out and be not still; raise your voice in a trumpet call.

Anyone ordained a priest undertakes the task of preaching, so that with a loud cry he may go on ahead of the terrible judge who follows. If, then, a priest does not know how to preach, what kind of cry can such a dumb herald utter? It was to bring this home that the Holy Spirit descended in the form of tongues on the first pastors, for he causes those whom he has filled, to speak out spontaneously.

20 September 2016

English Post - Knights Battle to Defend Rhodes

The English Post in the siege of Rhodes was named for the English knights who were responsible for defending that portion of the walls of the city. It was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting. Twice the knights lost it and twice they won it back. The tenaille is on the left and the main wall is further is visible in the background further behind it.  On the right of the wide dry ditch is the counterscarp that the attackers had to climb down before storming the city wall. The ditch is enfiladed by the Tower of St. John, its bulwark and lower wall providing vertically stacked fields of overlapping fire. The stone cannon balls seen in the ditch are remnants from the fighting. To experience first hand the history of the Knights of St. John please join us on a tour to the beautiful islands of Rhodes and Crete next September. For more information visit MedSeas Catholic Journeys.
Photo courtesy of Norbert Nagel.

Angelus Prayer for the Crusades

Most people know that the Angelus is recited at three particular times during the day; 6 am, 12 noon, and 6 pm and during the Easter Season, the Angelus is replaced by the Regina Caeli, a practice first instituted in 1743.

But how many know that the origins of the Angelus is with an 11th century custom of reciting three Hail Mary's during the evening bell which Pope Gregory IX (d 1241) ordered to be rung in order to remind people to pray for the Crusades. Later Pope Callistus III (1455-1458) commended the practice as a prayer for protection against the Turkish invasions of his time. By the sixteenth century the form of the prayer was standardized and it has been highly popular since the 17th century. 


09 August 2016

Kilteel Castle - Priory of the Knights of St. John in Ireland

In the village of Kilteel six miles north of Naas at the foot of the Wicklow mountains is Kilteel Castle.

It was built in the early thirteenth century by Maurice Fitzgerald for the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. The site upon which the castle was built was once a monastic settlement.

It's most notable resident was Sir John Rawson who was the last Prior of the Kilmainham house of the Order before King Henry VIII dissolved the Order.

In 1511 he was appointed Prior of Kilmainham; this was a position of considerable political power, entitling him to sit both in the Irish House of Lords and on the Privy Council of Ireland. In 1517 he became Lord Treasurer of Ireland.

During the second siege of Rhodes in 1522 Sir John was the only knight from Ireland that responded to the Grand Master's request for knights to come to defend Rhodes. After the Siege, Rawson returned to Ireland where he continued to serve as Prior.

When Henry VIII decided to dissolve the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and after lengthy negotiations Rawson in 1541 surrendered the Priory of Kilmainham in return for a payment of 500 marks and the title of Viscount Clontarf  and the lease of the castle was given to Thomas Alen and his wife.

In 1669 Col. Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyreconnell became the owner of Kilteel. He then sold the castle to Sir William Fownes of Kilkenny where it remained in his family until 1838 when it was sold to the Kennedys of Johnstown-Kennedy.

Today the castle is a designated National Monument. It consists of a tower house dated to the fifteenth century, another projecting towerhouse with a spiral stairs and two further rooms at the gate-way.

08 August 2016

Knights at the Watch Tower Send Warning of the Invasion of Rhodes

Watch towers have sent out the alert!  Invasion has started.  Cavalry scouting the coast for the landing area.  40,000 troops are disembarking...where are we?  Journeys of Faith, Culture & History...September 2017. Check out the new MedSeas website for more info


Mandraki Harbor Rhodes

The Mandraki was the military harbour and was guarded by a tower built between 1464 and 1467 by the Grand Master Zacosta. After the first Turkish siege of Rhodes in 1480 and the successful defense by the Knights of St. John, the Grand Master d'Aubusson added a bastion around the tower transforming it into a guard fortress on the sea.


This blog and the opinions are all my own and in no way imply the endorsement from any organization. Nor does a recommendation of another blog or web site imply my agreement or endorsement of everything found on their site.