George Kastrioti Skanderbeg

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George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, “Iskander”

Preserved Christendom from the Turks Through his Devotion to Mary.

George Kastrioti Skanderbeg (May 6, 1405 – January 17, 1467), is also known by his Muslim name of Iskander, (Lord Alexander).” He was also known as the Dragon of Albania, and is the national hero of that country. His story is told at length in the new book Defenders of Christendom. 

George was the son of an Albanian lord who had been forced to submit to Murad II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He was still a young boy when he and his three brothers were turned over by his parents to the Muslim empire as part of the practice of devsirme. While his three older brothers were slowly poisoned when they staunchly refused to convert to Islam, George was allowed to live, as he was only a child.

Forced to conform to the practices of Islam, George was subjected to merciless training at which he excelled, proving himself to be both a physically powerful warrior and eventually also a brilliant field commander. Rising quickly through the ranks, he was made bey generalissimo, and entrusted to command a large Muslim cavalry unit. The Ottoman sultan himself honored him by bestowing upon him the name of Iskander, “Lord Alexander,” comparing him favorably to the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great. Continue reading

Margaret Clitherow

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Margaret Clitherow

Martyr, called the “Pearl of York”, born about 1556; died 25 March 1586. She was a daughter of Thomas Middleton, Sheriff of York (1564-5), a wax-chandler; married John Clitherow, a wealthy butcher and a chamberlain of the city, in St. Martin’s church, Coney St., 8 July, 1571, and lived in the Shambles, a street still unaltered. Converted to the Faith about three years later, she became most fervent, continually risking her life by harbouring and maintaining priests, was frequently imprisoned, sometimes for two years at a time, yet never daunted, and was a model of all virtues. Though her husband belonged to the Established Church, he had a brother a priest, and Margaret provided two chambers, one adjoining her house and a second in another part of the city, where she kept priests hidden and had Mass continually celebrated through the thick of the persecution. Some of her priests were martyred, and Margaret who desired the same grace above all things, used to make secret pilgrimages by night to York Tyburn to pray beneath the gibbet for this intention. Finally arrested on 10 March, 1586, she was committed to the castle. On 14 March, she was arraigned before Judges Clinch and Rhodes and several members of the Council of the North at the York assizes. Her indictment was that she had harboured priests, heard Mass, and the like; but she refused to plead, since the only witnesses against her would be her own little children and servants, whom she could not bear to involve in the guilt of her death. She was therefore condemned to the peine forte et dure, i.e. to be pressed to death. “God be thanked, I am not worthy of so good a death as this”, she said. Although she was probably with child, this horrible sentence was carried out on Lady Day, 1586 (Good Friday according to New Style). She had endured an agony of fear the previous night, but was now calm, joyous, and smiling. She walked barefooted to the tollbooth on Ousebridge, for she had sent her hose and shoes to her daughter Anne, in token that she should follow in her steps. She had been tormented by the ministers and even now was urged to confess her crimes. “No, no, Mr. Sheriff, I die for the love of my Lord Jesu”, she answered. She was laid on the ground, a sharp stone beneath her back, her hands stretched out in the form of a cross and bound to two posts. Then a door was placed upon her, which was weighted down till she was crushed to death. Her last words during an agony of fifteen minutes, were “Jesu! Jesu! Jesu! have mercy on me!” Her right hand is preserved at St. Mary’s Convent, York, but the resting-place of her sacred body is not known. Her sons Henry and William became priests, and her daughter Anne a nun at St. Ursula’s, Louvain.

Her life, written by her confessor, John Mush, exists in two versions. The earlier has been edited by Father John Morris, S.J., in his “Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers”, third series (London, 1877). The later manuscript, now at York Convent, was published by W. Nicholson, of Thelwall Hall, Cheshire (London, Derby, 1849), with portrait: “Life and Death of Margaret Clitherow the martyr of York”. It also contains the “History of Mrs. Margaret Ward and Mrs. Anne Line, Martyrs”.

About this page

APA citation. Camm, B. (1908). St. Margaret Clitherow. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Camm, Bede. “St. Margaret Clitherow.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Saint Peter Nolasco

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Saint Peter Nolasco, Confessor

The Ransomer of Captives, Peter Nolasco, is thus brought before us by the Calendar, a few days after having given us the Feast of his master, Raymond of Penafort. Both of them offer to the Divine Redeemer the thousands of Christians they ransomed from slavery. It is an appropriate homage, for it was the result of the Charity, which first began in Bethlehem, in the heart of the Infant Jesus, and was afterwards so fervently practised by these two Saints.

Peter was born in France, but made Spain his adopted country, because it offered him such grand opportunities for zeal and self-sacrifice. In imitation of our Redeemer, he devoted himself to the ransom of his brethren; he made himself a prisoner to procure them their liberty; and remained in exile, that they might once more enjoy the happiness of home. His devotedness was blessed by God. He founded a new Religious Order in the Church, composed of generous hearted men, who, for six hundred years, prayed, toiled, and spent their lives, in obtaining the blessing of liberty to countless Captives, who would else have led their whole lives in chains, exposed to the imminent danger of losing their faith.
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Blessed Charlemagne

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B. Charlemagne, Emperor

CHARLEMAGNE, or Charles the Great, son of king Pepin, was born in 742; and crowned king of France in 768; but his youngest brother Carloman reigned in Austrasia till his death, in 771. Charlemagne vanquished Hunauld, duke of Aquitain, and conquered the French Gothia or Landguedoc; subdued Lombardy; conferred on Pope Adrian the exarchite of Ravenna, the duchy of Spoletto and many other dominions; took Pavia, (which had been honoured with the residence of twenty kings,) and was crowned king of Lombardy in 774. The emir Abderamene in Spain, having shaken off the yoke of the caliph of the Saracens, in 736, and established his kingdom at Cordova, and other emirs in Spain setting up independency, Charlemagne, in 778, marched as far as the Ebro and Saragossa, conquered Barcelona, Gironne, and many other places, and returned triumphant. His cousin Roland, who followed him with the rear of his army, in his return was set upon in the Pyrenean mountains by a troop of Gascon robbers, and slain; and is the famous hero of numberless old French romances and songs. The Saxons having in the king’s absence plundered his dominions upon the Rhine, he flew to the Weser, and compelled them to make satisfaction. Thence he went to Rome and had his infant sons crowned kings, Pepin of Lombardy, and Lewis of Aquitain. The great revolt of the Saxons, in 782, called him again on that side. When they were vanquished, and sued for pardon, he declared he would no more take their oaths which they had so often broken, unless they became Christians. Witikind embraced the condition, was baptized with his chief followers in 785, and being created duke of part of Saxony, remained ever after faithful in his religion and allegiance. From him are descended, either directly or by intermarriages, many dukes of Bavaria, and the present houses of Saxony, Brandenburg, &c., as may be seen in the German genealogists. Some other Saxons afterwards revolted, and were vanquished and punished in 794, 798, &c., so that, through their repeated treachery and rebellions, this Saxon war continued at intervals for the space of thirty-three years. Thassillon, duke of Bavaria, for treasonable practices, was attacked by Charlemagne in 788, vanquished, and obliged to put on a monk’s cowl to save his life: from which time Bavaria was annexed to Charlemagne’s dominions. To punish the Abares for their inroads, he crossed the Inns into their territories, sacked Vienna, and marched to the mouth of the Raad upon the Danube. In 794, he assisted at the great council of Francfort, held in his royal palace there. He restored Leo III. at Rome, quelled the seditions there, and was crowned by him on Christmas-day, in 800, emperor of Rome and of the West: in which quality he was afterwards solemnly acknowledged by Nicephorus, emperor of Constantinople. Thus was the western empire restored, which had been extinct in Momylus Agustulus in the fifth century. In 805, Charlemagne quelled and conquered the Sclavonians. The Danube, the Teisse, and the Oder on the East, and the Ebro and the ocean on the West, were the boundaries of his vast dominions. France, Germany, Dacia, Dalmatia, Istria, Italy, and part of Pannonia and Spain, obeyed his laws. It was then customary for kings not to reside in great cities, but to pass the summer often in progresses or campaigns, and the winter at some country palace. King Pepin resided at Herstal, now Jopin, in the territory of Liege, and sometimes at Quiercy on the Oise: Charlemagne often at Francfort or Aix-la-Chapelle, which were country seats; for those towns were then inconsiderable places: though the latter had been founded by Serenus Granus in 124, under Adrian. It owes its greatness to the church built there by Charlemagne. 1 Continue reading