Sunday, June 8, 2014


(Continued) Excerpts from:


By Archpriest Basil M. Kherbawi
St, Nicholas Greek-Orthodox Cathedral
Brooklyn, NY
Published 1930




    German Emperor Frederick Barbarosa was compelled to seek reconciliation with Pope Alexander III. An interview took place between the two at Venice in 1177, and it is related that when the Emperor kissed the feet of the Pontiff he placed his feet on the Emperor’s neck. Apostrophizing himself in the language of the Scripture: “You shall tread upon the adder and the lion.” It was this same Pontiff also who first gratified the pride of the Roman clergy by parading the streets of Rome, having his horse led by two powerful monarchs, Emperor Henry of England and Louis of France, who reverently held the bridle while the Pope rode to his habitation.

  While Pope Celestine III was performing the ceremony of coronation for the Emperor Henry VI with all the usual solemnities, on the monarch’s bending of his knees before the Pop e, the proud Pontiff rudely kicked off the crown which he had just placed on the Emperor’s head, to show that he could, with equal ease, confer crowns and take them away, an instance of audacity to which history hardly furnishes a single parallel. To such a perfect contradiction had the Pope arrived of the example of Him whom they pretend to represent and who emphatically said: “Learn of me, for I am meek and humble in my heart.”

     Time fails us and space does not permit us to inscribe the details concerning “The Holy Inquisition” or the ecclesiastical tribunal established in the thirteenth century by Popes Honorius II, Gregory IX, and Innocent IV to try the heretics. Nor can we fully describe the terrible persecution of the Albigensians and the Waldenesians in which no fewer that a million lives were sacrificed, and thousands who escaped the sword were compelled to flee from the homes of their childhood and endure the horrors of poverty, with new forms of persecution. Pope Innocent III said in his bull to the nobles and princes who would take up arms in the cause of destroying the heretics: “We exhort you to destroy the wicked heresy of the Albigenses, and do this with more rigor than you would use toward the Saracens themselves”, promising the murderers seats of honor in Paradise and the full remission of their sins. From 1233 onwards to 1687, the severities of the inquisition, imprisonment, torture and the stake, continued to be inflicted on the Waldenses, supplemented by occasional “crusades”.

   The most notable of these took place in 1418, under Pope Innocent VIII, when among other barbarities a multitude of fugitives – men, women and children, were piteously smoked to death in an Alpine cave. We cannot dwell, either on the massacre of August 24th of 1572, known as the massacre of St. Bartholomew, which took place in France, a tragedy which has no equal in ancient or modern times, and which is written in dismal characters upon the annals of the French nation, and in the history of the church of Rome. We need not stain these pages with the particulars of that awful slaughter of seventy thousand unoffending and unresisting victims, some bent with age and venerable with hoary locks, others too young to have even lisped the prayers of a “heretical” church, the rivers of France were dyed with the blood of these innocent martyrs.

 Rome received the news of the direful massacre with loud demonstrations of joy, and it was momentarily expected in the “holy city.”  Cardinal Alessandrian exclaimed joyfully: “The king of France has kept his word,” and Pope Gregory VIII decreed that there should be public rejoicing to celebrate the event. High Mass was performed with every circumstance of pomp and splendor, and ere the wailing of the widows and orphans of France crying to heaven for vengeance had died away,
The solemn strains of the

Te Deum arose from the choir of St. Peter’s, thanking God for the accomplishment of the most monstrous crime which history records, and worst of all is, that the Pope caused a medal to be struck in memory of the dead, bearing on one side, the likeness of his own face, and on the other an effigy of the destroying angels, surmounted by the inscription: “Ugonottorom strages – “The slaughter of the Hugenots.” 

To be continued

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