Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Bombardment of Fort St. Elmo Begins - May 24, 1565

Fort St. Elmo was well placed to defend the Grand Harbor from attack by sea but its low lying position at the base of the penisula left it vulnerable to attack from Mt. Scibberas as the high ground at the top of the peninsula. As the commander of Ottoman naval forces, Piali Pasha wanted to secure his fleet in the Harbor he argued that Fort St. Elmo must be captured and the first point of attack. Mustafa Pasha opposed this plan but finally relented, assuming that it would only take a few days to destroy the fort. Mustafa began moving his cannons into position for the assault and the bombardment of Fort St. Elmo began on May 24th.

Initially St. Elmo was defended by a modest number of  knights and several hundred soldiers and other Maltese citizens. But each night of the siege the wounded were evacuated and new knights were smuggled in to reinforce those who wereTo attack St. Elmo, the Turkish troops had to cross a moat under fire. The defenders had raised their drawbridges and broken down other bridges so the Turks had to construct portable bridges. Such massed attacks were costly in terms of casualties, but the Ottoman commanders had little regard for the lives of their men.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fra Bartolomeo Faraone and Fra Adrien de la Riviere - The First Knights to Die During the Siege of Malta

On May 21st, two of the first heroes to die in the Siege of Malta were the Portuguese knight Fra Bartolomeo Faraone and the French knight Adrien de la Riviere.

After the initial arrival of the Turkish force on May 18th, the following day, the 19th, the Turks landed at Marsaxlokk and proceeded to the village of Zejtun and start robbing whatever crops and livestock they could find. They were met by a cavalry detachment, led by these two brave Knights, which had been dispatched by La Vallette to shadow the Turkish troop movements. Both were captured by the Turks and interrogated by Mustafa` Pasha` himself who wanted to know which was the weakest point in the local defence to attack Birgu. Finally after various methods of torture we employed without success molten silver was poured into their ears and they divulged that the weakest point in the knights defenses was at the Post of Castille. In fact the Post of Castille was the most strongly defended and it is a testament to the honor and bravery of these two knights who must have known that when the truth became known they would undoubtedly be put to death for their deception.

Trusting the information given up under severe torture, Mustafa Pasha sent a substantial force to attack Birgu. The advance troops outpaced the main body of soldiers and were met by a number of eager young knights who sallied forth from their fort much to the chagrin of the Grand Master watching from Fort St. Angelo. He later gave orders that no troops were to leave their positions without his express command. But on this first engagement the knights were victorious and what could have been a disaster for them instead became the first defeat for Mustafa's army and the loss of several hundred of his soldiers to twelve knights of St. John.

Mustafa Pasha was outraged at the trickery of Fra's Faraone and de la Riviere and he had them put to death. One account states that they were beheaded and another that they were bastinadoed to death. It would seem reasonable that they were first bastinadoed and finally beheaded.

*Bastinadoed is a form of corporal punishment where the feet are tied together and then the soles of the feet are whipped with a cane or similar object. This cause intense levels of pain.

The picture is of the Hornworks of the Post of Castille. Much work is being done to renovate the area including the removal of many structures added after the Siege such as those outside the wall at the bottom of the picture.

See also http://birgu.gov.mt/node/16

Monday, May 18, 2015

Beginning of the Great Siege of Malta, May 18, 1565

On this day, May 18, 1565 the Ottoman Turkish Navy arrived at the island of Malta preparing to invade the island and secure a post from which to invade mainland Europe. The actual siege did not begin for a few days as the two Turkish leaders, the 4th Vizier Serdar Kizilahmedli Mustafa Pasha  the leader of the land forces, and the supreme naval commander, Piyale Pasha debated over where to launch the attack. It was decided to attack Fort St. Elmo and secure the entrance to the harbor. Fort St. Elmo is the star shaped fort at the bottom of the picture.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

How the Liturgy Opens a Window to Another World

The following passage is taken from a talk given by Martin Mosebach at Holy Innocents Parish, New York, May 12, 2015. The whole talk is very insightful and worth reading here.
The rejection of the traditional liturgy has certainly unexpectedly resulted in one particular problem for the contemporary Church. To outsiders, including many Catholics, the Catholic Church today is mainly embodied in the morality it teaches and demands of its faithful, which, manifest in prohibitions and commandments, are contrary to the beliefs of the secular world. In a church centered mainly on the immediate liturgical encounter with God, these moral demands were related not only to life choices, but were specifically conceived as preparation for full participation in the liturgy. 
It was the liturgy that specified the goal of morality. The question was: what must I do to attain full communion with the Eucharistic Christ in the liturgy? What makes me only able to observe this Christ from a distance? That which is morally forbidden appeared not simply as the incarnation of evil, but as something to be avoided for the sake of a specific objective. And when the commandment that excludes us from communion was transgressed, the sacrament of confession stood ready to heal the damage and prepare us for communion. Surprisingly, it turned out that the Catholic Church of the past, which focused on the liturgy, seemed scandalously morally lax to outsiders, while to contemporaries and not only the unchurched, the present Church seems unbearably preachy, merciless and pettily puritanical.

I believe this is the picture referred to in his talk.


This picture is similar to but not exactly the one referred to by Mr. Mosebach .  Nevertheless it should give pause for some reflection also.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Cardinal Burke to Celebrate Mass in the Usus Antiquior in Minneapolis

We have received great news that Una Voce St. Paul and Minneapolis has arranged for Cardinal Burke to celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form in September.

Date: September 19, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis Minnesota

More details as they become available.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

False Economics Quote of Archbishop Sheen

“False economics says that the primary end of business is not consumption, but production. Start with this principle and it follows then that the purpose of a machine is not to supply human needs, but to make profit for its owner. The price then becomes more important than the man who pays the price. It is then only a step to say that the produce of God’s bountiful land may be destroyed in the midst of starvation for the sake of an economic price. Man becomes subordinate to economics, instead of economics to man, and this means a degradation and impoverishment of human dignity.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (The Prodigal World)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Professor Mgr Michel Schooyans on the Two Purposes of Marriage

Mgr Michel SCHOOYANS gave a talk recently at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium on the Two Purposes of Marriage. I was fortunate to have Mgr. SHOOYANS as my political philosophy professor when I attended UCL in 1988.  From Mark Lamberts blog, 

Mgr Schooyans is a leading Vatican scholar, a professor at Louvain and an acclaimed academic and writer. He has a doctorate in philosophy and theology and is a priest of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. 

The full translation of the talk can be found at the website of Voice of the Family which is a lay initiative formed in support of the Synod on the Family. Here is the opening of the talk,
The second session of the Synod on the Family is close at hand. Three interlinked questions require further discussion at this session: they are the conjugal union, marriage and the family. We have in effect reached a period in the history of humanity in which, beyond doubt for the first time, we are witnessing a radical questioning of marriage and the family. The target in the line of sight is marriage and the family, with their twofold purpose: the unitive purpose and the procreative purpose of the union of a man and woman. Their destruction will lead to the disintegration of human society as a whole. It is the entire human family which is now being attacked, undermined and distorted by hostile ideological currents.
 

Church of the Order of Malta in Bologna, Italy


A Church belonging to the Order of Malta in Bologna, Italy



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