Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: Narcism, Psalms 33, Matthew 25:1-13, St. Raymond Nonnatus, Mercedarians - Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

Friday, August 31, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: 
Narcism, Psalms 33, Matthew 25:1-13, St. Raymond Nonnatus, Mercedarians - Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Today's Word:  narcism   nar·cism [nahr-suh-siz-em]

Origin:  1815–25;  < German Narzissismus. See narcissus, -ism

1. inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity. self-centeredness, smugness, egocentrism.
2. Psychoanalysis . erotic gratification derived from admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.

Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 10, 11

1 Shout for joy, you upright; praise comes well from the honest.
2 Give thanks to Yahweh on the lyre, play for him on the ten-stringed lyre.
4 The word of Yahweh is straightforward, all he does springs from his constancy.
5 He loves uprightness and justice; the faithful love of Yahweh fills the earth.
10 Yahweh thwarts the plans of nations, frustrates the counsels of peoples;
11 but Yahweh's own plan stands firm for ever, his heart's counsel from age to age.


Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus said to his disciples: “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like this: Ten wedding attendants took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones, though they took their lamps, took no oil with them, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “Look! The bridegroom! Go out and meet him”. Then all those wedding attendants woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other attendants arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us.” But He replied, “In truth I tell you I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.
• Matthew 25, 1ª: The beginning: “At that time”. The parable begins with these two words: “At that time”. It is a question of the coming of the Son of Man (cfr. Mt 24, 37). Nobody knows when this day, this time will come, “not even the angels in Heaven nor the Son himself, but only the Father” (Mt 24, 36). The fortune tellers will not succeed in giving an estimate. The Son of Man will come as a surprise, when people less expect him (Mt 24, 44). It can be today, it can be tomorrow, that is why the last warning of the parable of the ten Virgins is: “Keep watch!” The ten girls should be prepared for any thing which may happen. When the Nazi Policemen knocked at the door of the Monastery of the Carmelite Sisters of Echt in the Province of Limburgia, in the Netherlands, Edith Stein, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was prepared. She took on the Cross and followed the way to martyrdom in the extermination camp out of love for God and for her people. She was one of the prudent virgins of the parable.

• Matthew 25, 1b-4: The ten virgins ready to wait for the bridegroom. The parable begins like this: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like this: ten wedding attendants took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom”. It is a question of the girls who have to accompany the bridegroom to the wedding feast. Because of this, they have to take the lamps with them, to light the way, and also to render the feast more joyful with more light. Five of them were prudent and five were foolish. This difference is seen in the way in which they prepare themselves for the role that they have to carry out. Together with the lighted lamps, the prudent ones had taken some oil in reserve, preparing themselves in this way for anything which could happen. The foolish ones took only the lamps and they did not think to take some oil in reserve with them.

• Matthew 25, 5-7: The unforeseen delay of the arrival of the bridegroom. The bridegroom was late. He had not indicated precisely the hour of his arrival. While waiting the attendants went to sleep. But the lamps continue to burn and use the oil until gradually they turned off. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, there was a cry: “Look! The bridegroom! Go out and meet him!” All the attendants woke up, and began to prepare their lamps which were burning out. They had to put in some of the oil they had brought in reserve so that the lamps would not burn out.

• Matthew 25, 8-9: The different reactions before the delay of the bridegroom. It is only now that the foolish attendants become aware that they should have brought some oil in reserve with them. They went to ask the prudent ones: “Give us some of your oil, our lamps are going out”. The prudent ones could not respond to this request, because at that moment what was important was not for the prudent ones to share their oil with the foolish ones, but that they would be ready to accompany the bridegroom to the place of the feast. For this reason they advised them: “You had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves”.

• Matthew 25, 10-12: The fate of the prudent attendants and that of the foolish ones. The foolish ones followed the advice of the prudent ones and went to buy some oil. During their brief absence the bridegroom arrived and the prudent ones were able to accompany him and to enter together with him to the wedding feast. But the door was closed behind them. When the others arrived, they knocked at the door and said: “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!” and they received the response: “In truth I tell you, I do not know you”.

• Matthew 25, 13: The final recommendation of Jesus for all of us. The story of this parable is very simple and the lesson is evident: “So stay awake and watch, because you do not know either the day or the hour”. The moral of the story: do not be superficial, look beyond the present moment, and try to discover the call of God even in the smallest things of life, even the oil which may be lacking in the small light or lamp.
Personal questions
• Has it happened to you sometimes in your life to think about having oil in reserve for your lamp?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St. Raymond Nonnatus

Feast Day: August 31
Patron Saint: children; expectant mothers; falsely accused people; fever; infants; midwives; newborn babies; obstetricians; pregnant women

St Raymond Nonnatus
Raymond Nonnatus (Catalan: Sant Ramon Nonat, Spanish: San Ramón Nonato, French: Saint Raymond Nonnat, Maltese: San Rajmondo Nonnato) (1204–1240) was a saint from Catalonia in Spain. His surname (Latin: Nonnatus, "not born") refers to his birth by Caesarean section (his mother having died during childbirth). He is the patron saint of childbirth, midwives, children, pregnant women, and priests who want to protect the secrecy of confession.


According to Mercedarian tradition, he was born at Portell (today part of Sant Ramon), in the Diocese of Urgell, and became a member of the Mercedarian Order, founded to ransom Christian captives from the Moors of North Africa. He was ordained a priest in 1222 and later became master-general of the order. He traveled to North Africa and is said to have surrendered himself as a hostage when his money ran out.

He suffered in captivity. A legend states that the Moors bored a hole through his lips with a hot iron, and padlocked his mouth to prevent him from preaching. He was ransomed by his order and in 1239 returned to Spain. He died at Cardona, sixty miles from Barcelona, either on August 26[1] or on August 31, 1240.[2] Many miracles were attributed to him before and after his death.

In the historiography and hagiography from 16th century it is repeatedely claimed that upon his return to Spain in 1239 Pope Gregory IX nominated him Cardinal-Deacon of Sant'Eustachio,[3] and that he died en route to Rome[4] However, Italian historian Agostino Paravicini Bagliani has established that this accounts resulted from a confusion of Raymond Nonnatus with Englishman Robert Somercote, cardinal-deacon of S. Eustachio 1238-1241, and has concluded that St. Raymond was never a cardinal.[5]

Places named in honor of St Raymond

Saint-Raymond, Quebec, in Canada, San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, in Argentina, and São Raimundo Nonato and the Roman Catholic Diocese of São Raimundo Nonato (Raymundianus), in Brazil, are named after him.


Altar of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City
His feast day is on August 31.[6] Because of his limited importance worldwide, his liturgical celebration is no longer included among those to be necessarily commemorated wherever the Roman Rite is celebrated,[7] but, since he is included in the Roman Martyrology for August 31, Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours may be recited in his honor on that day as in the pre-1970 General Roman Calendar, which is observed by some traditionalist Catholics.

One particular ritual is centered around the padlock that is part of his martyrdom. Locks are placed at his altar to stop gossip, rumours, false testimonies and bad talk. They are also used to keep secrets, stop cursing or lying and to guard priests who want to protect the secrecy of confession. After placing a lock the person takes a seat in the main bench, for all to see.[8]


  1. ^ C. Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica, vol. I, p. 6
  2. ^ "Lives of the Saints, For Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist., Ph.D., New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., June 1, 1955, p. 344
  3. ^ Cf. Eubel, p. 6
  4. ^ "Lives of the Saints, For Every Day of the Year, p. 344
  5. ^ Paravicini Bagliani A., Cardinali di Curia e "familae" cardinalizia dal 1227 al 1254, Padova 1972, pt. II, p. 534-535
  6. ^ "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
  7. ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 137
  8. ^ Plate in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City.


  • Elizabeth Hallam (ed.), "Saints: Who They Are and How They Help You" (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p. 33.
  • "Lives of the Saints, For Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist., Ph.D., New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., June 1, 1955, p. 344
  • Patron Saints Index: Saint Raymond Nonnatus
  • Santi e beati: San Raimondo Nonnato (Italian)
  • The Saint of the Day: St Raymond Nonnatus, August 31
  • Catholic Online - Saints & Angels: St Raymond Nonnatus
  • "St. Raymond Nonnatus". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
  • Praying to Saint Raymond Nonnatus (Polish)
  • Litany to Saint Raymond Nonnatus (Polish)

Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today's Snippet :  Mercedarians - Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy


Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, 1350 Memmi
The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (or the Order of Merced, O.Merc., Mercedarians, the Order of Captives, or the Order of Our Lady of Ransom) The Royal, Celestial and Military Order of Our Lady of Mercy and the Redemption of the Captives also known as Our Lady of Ransom is a Roman Catholic religious order established in 1218 by St. Peter Nolasco in the city of Barcelona, at that time in the Kingdom of Aragon, for the redemption of Christian captives. One of the distinguishing marks of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy is that, since its foundation, its members are required to take a Fourth Vow to die for another who is in danger of losing their Faith. The Order, which exists today in 17 countries was one of many dozens of associations that sprang up in Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries as institutions of charitable works. The work of the Mercedarians was in ransoming impoverished captive Christians (slaves) held in Muslim hands, especially along the frontier that the Crown of Aragon shared with al-Andalus (Muslim Spain).

Starting before the First Crusade, many hospices and hospitals were organized by the chapters of cathedrals or by the monastic orders. Within the communal organizations of towns, local charitable institutions such as almshouses were established by confraternities or guilds, or by successful individual laymen concerned with the welfare of their souls, but often only local historians are aware of them.

Broader-based and aristocratically-funded charitable institutions were more prominent and are more familiar, and the episodes of aristocratic and even royal ransom and its conditions, were the subject of chronicle and romance. The knights of the original Order of St John—the Knights Hospitaller—and the Templars in their origins are well known, and the impact of their organized charity upon the religious values of the High Middle Ages is more fully estimated in their spheres.

The Order of Merced, however, an early 13th century popular movement of personal piety organized at first by the Catalan Peter Nolasco, was concerned with ransoming the ordinary men who had not the means to negotiate their own ransom, the "poor of Christ." Nolasco and the fraternity that grew around him were motivated by an urban mentality that transcended kith and kin in a broader social consciousness; though they were lay folk, such a movement could only find expression through a specifically Christian form: within its first five or six years the movement was organized into a recognized order of the Church, still in the early 13th century the one transcendent institutional framework in Europe aside from the Papacy. (Brodman 1986).

The Foundation of the Order

St Peter Nolasco, 1st Crusade, founder of Mercedarians
Sources for the origins of the Mercedarians are scant and almost nothing is known of the founder, St. Peter Nolasco. A narrative developed between the fifteenth and early seventeenth centuries that culminated in Nolasco's canonization as a saint in 1628. This is a summary of that narrative. St. Peter Nolasco began his redemptive work (ransoming Christian captives) in 1203.

After fifteen years of admirable mercy in the redemption of Christian captives, Peter Nolasco and his friends were seeing with concern that, instead of decreasing, day by day the number of captives was growing excessively. The determined leader, with a strong personality, clear ideas, a strong faith, a solid and balanced devotion to Christ and to his Blessed Mother, a compassionate heart, a serene and resolute trust in God, Peter Nolasco did not feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the mission undertaken and his own insignificance. In his fervent prayer, he sought divine inspiration to be able to continue God’s work which he had started. At that point and in these circumstances, during the night of August 1, 1218, a special intervention of Blessed Mary occurred in Peter Nolasco’s life: an amazing Marian experience which illumined his mind and stirred up his will to transform his group of lay redeemers into a Redemptive Religious Order which, with the Church’s approbation and the protection of the Count of Barcelona and King of Aragon , would pursue the great work of mercy which had started
On the next day, Peter Nolasco went to the royal palace to explain his project to young Count of Barcelona and King of Aragon, James I and his advisers, the first of whom was the Bishop of Barcelona, don Berenguer de Palou. Peter’s plan, inspired by God through Mary, was to establish a well-structured and stable Redemptive Religious Order under the patronage of Blessed Mary. The proposal pleased the king and his advisers since, after the failed attempt by Alfonso II with the Order of the Holy Redeemer which did not prosper, the noble aspiration of the royal house of Aragon to have its own redemptive order was becoming a reality.

On August 10, 1218, the new religious order for the Redemption of Captives was officially and solemnly constituted at the main altar erected over Saint Eulalia's tomb in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross (also known as the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia) in Barcelona. Bishop Berenguer de Palou gave Peter Nolasco and his companions the white habit that they would wear as characteristic of the Order; he gave them the Rule of Saint Augustine as a norm for their life in common and he gave his authorization for the sign of his cathedral, the Holy Cross, to be on the habit of the Order. After that, Peter Nolasco and the first Mercedarians made their religious profession right there before the bishop.

For his part, King James I the Conqueror established the Order as an institution recognized by the civil law of his kingdom. In the very act of the foundation and as an important rite of the ceremony, the monarch gave the Mercedarian friars the habit which, in the language of military orders, is the shield with four red stripes over a gold background, that is to say, the sign of the king himself. Along with the cross of the cathedral, this emblem would form the Order’s own shield. On that memorable day, James I endowed the Order, of which he considered himself the founder with the Hospital of Saint Eulalia which served as the first Mercedarian convent and as a house of welcome for redeemed captives.

Reconstructing the Order's beginnings from the documentary record produces a far less detailed story. In this the year 1218 plays no role. The founder first appears ca. 1226 as a collector of alms in Perpignan. By 1230 he is collecting alms for captives in Barcelona as the head of a small laic confraternity. During the next six years, this confraternity slowly evolves into a religious order as members obtain properties in Catalonia and in the newly conquered, frontier regions of Mallorca and Valencia. In 1236, Pope Gregory IX granted the Mercedarians formal recognition as a religious order under the Rule of St. Augustine. The small order gained additional members, property and support in the 1250s and 1260s. While evidenve is scant, one has to assume that this support came in recognition of the Order's work in ransoming captives in a war zone that remained quite active. The growing pains, however, also caused institutional turmoil, whose outlines can only be glimpsed. The visible result was a reorganization in 1272 by a new master, Pere d'Amer. James I, whose descendants claimed him to be the Mercedarian founder, had in fact no documentable contact with the Order until the late 1230s and early 1240s, at which time he granted formerly Muslim lands in Valencia, especially the Shrine of Santa Maria del Puig. It was not until the 1250s that royal patronage becomes evident, when the king granted the Order his guidaticum (a form of diplomatic protection), economic privileges that promoted gifts to the Order, and, at least temporarily, the important shrine of St. Vincent in the City of Valencia. Claims by King James II and Peter IV of a royal foundation of the Order reflected not real history but their own designs upon the Order's financial resources and personnel.

In the proem of the first Constitutions of the Mercedarian Order of 1272, three very important elements referring to the foundation stand out: the name, the founder and the purpose of the Order.

The name with which the Order founded by Peter Nolasco is identified, is mentioned first. Prior to the 1272 Constitutions, the Order had several names among which: Order of Saint Eulalia, Order of the Mercy of Captives, Order of the Redemption of Captives, Order of Mercy. But the proper and definitive title is: Order of the Virgin Mary of Mercy of the Redemption of Captives.

Then it is stated that Brother Peter Nolasco has been constituted "servant, messenger, founder and promoter" of the new Institute. Peter Nolasco is the real founder of the Order or the "Procurator of the alms of captives" as defined on March 28, 1219, by the first document referring to him after the foundation.
Finally, it is clearly specified that the purpose of the Order is "to visit and to free Christians who are in captivity and in power of the Saracens or of other enemies of our Law… By this work of mercy… all the brothers of this Order, as sons of true obedience, must always be gladly disposed to give up their lives, if it is necessary, as Jesus Christ gave up his for us."

All these valuable and reliable historical details of the foundation of the Order of Mercy are gathered in the letter of January 11, 1358, sent by Peter IV of Aragon the Ceremonious to Pope Innocent VI and kept to this day in the Archives of the Aragon Crown, a reliable guarantee of all the Mercedarian history of the first centuries.

With the solemn and official support of the Church and of the state, Peter Nolasco and his friars, constituted as a Redemptive Religious Order of lay brothers, gained new energy and, with renewed fervor, they continued their peregrinations of charity to collect alms for the redemption of captives in Saracen lands.

The Fourth Vow

Fourth Vow, 1694, Zurbaran; La Virgen de las Cuevas
Some Orders and Congregations, besides the three vows of religion, add particular vows. These additional vows are part of the nature of the profession of each Order and are permitted by the Church. They can be solemn or simple, perpetual or temporary. The Fourth Vow of the Order of Mercy is a Solemn Vow. In accordance with the general principle of a vow, it is an act of the will and an authentic promise in which the reason for the vow is perfection. It also presupposes a sincere will of obligation in conscience and by virtue of the community.

The Fourth Vow in the Various Constitutions of the Order

  • In the First Constitutions of the Order, the Amerian Constitutions (1272): "... all the brothers of the Order must always be gladly disposed to give up their lives, if it is necessary, as Jesus Christ gave up his for us..."
  • The Albertine Constitutions (1327): "Chapter 28: Surrender of one’s life as hostage in Saracen Territory."
  • The Zumelian Constitutions (1588): "I will be obedient to you and your successors up to death; and I will remain in person in the power of the Saracens if it be necessary for the Redemption of Christ’s Faithful."
  • The Madrilene Constitutions (1692) and the Roman Constitutions (1895): "Therefore, we must understand in the first place, that all our religious are committed to the Redemption of Captives in such a way that they must not only always be disposed to carry it out in fact if the Order sends them, but also to collect alms, or if the prelates do select them, to do whatever else may be necessary for the act of redemption to be carried out."
    1. Also in the Madrilene Constitutions: "We declare that this vow is essential because it inseparably constitutes our Order in its nature and substance by virtue of the early institution… and our predecessors have always professed and fulfilled it."
  • The Constitutions and Norms (1970): "The Mercedarian, urged by Charity, dedicated himself to God by a particular vow in virtue of which he promises to give his own life, if it will be necessary, as Christ did for us, to free from the new forms of slavery the Christians who are in danger of losing their Faith."
  • The Aquarian Constitutions (1986): "In order to fulfill this mission we, impelled by love, consecrate ourselves to God with a special vow, by virtue of which we promise to give up our lives, as Christ gave his life for us, should it be necessary, in order to save those Christians who find themselves in extreme danger of losing their faith by new forms of captivity."


  1. ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 525
  2. ^ Mary's Praise on Every Tongue: A Record of Homage Paid to Our Blessed Lady by Chandlery Peter Joseph 2009 ISBN 1-113-16154-X page 181



  Fall Series - Crusades:  The Third Crusade (1189-1192)

Third Crusade
The Third Crusade (1189–1192), also known as the Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin (Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb). It was largely successful, but fell short of its ultimate goal—the reconquest of Jerusalem.

After the failure of the Second Crusade, the Zengid dynasty controlled a unified Syria and engaged in a conflict with the Fatimid rulers of Egypt, which ultimately resulted in the unification of Egyptian and Syrian forces under the command of Saladin, who employed them to reduce the Christian states and to recapture Jerusalem in 1187. Spurred by religious zeal, Henry II of England and Philip II of France ended their conflict with each other to lead a new crusade (although Henry's death in 1189 put the English contingent under the command of Richard Lionheart instead). The elderly Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa responded to the call to arms, and led a massive army across Anatolia, but drowned in a river in Asia Minor on June 10, 1190, before reaching the Holy Land. His death caused the greatest grief among the German Crusaders. Most of his discouraged troops left to go home.

After driving the Muslims from Acre, Frederick's successor Leopold V of Austria and Philip left the Holy Land in August 1191. Saladin failed to defeat Richard in any military engagements, and Richard secured several more key coastal cities. Nevertheless, on September 2, 1192, Richard finalized a treaty with Saladin by which Jerusalem would remain under Muslim control, but which also allowed unarmed Christian pilgrims and merchants to visit the city. Richard departed the Holy Land on October 9. The successes of the Third Crusade would allow the Crusaders to maintain a considerable kingdom based in Cyprus and the Syrian coast. However, its failure to recapture Jerusalem would lead to the call for a Fourth Crusade six years later.


Muslim unification

After the failure of the Second Crusade, Nur ad-Din Zangi had control of Damascus and a unified Syria.
Eager to expand his power, Nur ad-Din set his sights on the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt. In 1163, Nur ad-Din's most trusted general, Shirkuh set out on a military expedition to the Nile. Accompanying the general was his young nephew, Saladin.

With Shirkuh's troops camped outside of Cairo, Egypt's sultan, Shawar called on King Amalric I of Jerusalem for assistance. In response, Amalric sent an army into Egypt and attacked Shirkuh's troops at Bilbeis in 1164.

In an attempt to divert Crusader attention from Egypt, Nur ad-Din attacked Antioch, resulting in a massacre of Christian soldiers and the capture of several Crusader leaders, including Bohemond III, Prince of Antioch. Nur ad-Din sent the scalps of the Christian defenders to Egypt for Shirkuh to proudly display at Bilbeis for Amalric's soldiers to see. This action prompted both Amalric and Shirkuh to lead their armies out of Egypt.
In 1167, Nur ad-Din once again sent Shirkuh to conquer the Fatimids in Egypt. Shawar also opted to once again call upon Amalric for the defence of his territory. The combined Egyptian-Christian forces pursued Shirkuh until he retreated to Alexandria.

Amalric then breached his alliance with Shawar by turning his forces on Egypt and besieging the city of Bilbeis. Shawar pleaded with his former enemy, Nur ad-Din to save him from Amalric's treachery. Lacking the resources to maintain a prolonged siege of Cairo against the combined forces of Nur ad-Din and Shawar, Amalric retreated. This new alliance gave Nur ad-Din rule over virtually all of Syria and Egypt.

Saladin's conquests

Saladin's battles in Egypt
Shawar was executed for his alliances with the Christian forces, and Shirkuh succeeded him as vizier of Egypt. In 1169, Shirkuh died unexpectedly after only weeks of rule. Shirkuh's successor was his nephew, Salah ad-Din Yusuf, commonly known as Saladin. Nur ad-Din died in 1174, leaving the new empire to his 11-year old son, As-Salih. It was decided that the only man competent enough to uphold the jihad against the Franks was Saladin, who became sultan of both Egypt and Syria, and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty.

Amalric also died in 1174, leaving Jerusalem to his 13-year old son, Baldwin IV. Although Baldwin suffered from leprosy, he was an effective and active military commander, defeating Saladin at the battle of Montgisard in 1177, with support from Raynald of Châtillon, who had been released from prison in 1176. Later, he forged an agreement with Saladin to allow free trade between Muslim and Christian territories. Raynald also raided caravans throughout the region. He expanded his piracy to the Red Sea by sending galleys not only to raid ships, but to assault the city of Mecca itself. These acts enraged the Muslim world, giving Raynald a reputation as the most hated man in the Middle East.

Baldwin IV died in 1185 and the kingdom was left to his nephew Baldwin V, whom he had crowned as co-king in 1183. Raymond III of Tripoli again served as regent. The following year, Baldwin V died before his ninth birthday, and his mother Princess Sybilla, sister of Baldwin IV, crowned herself queen and her husband, Guy of Lusignan, king.  It was at this time that Raynald, once again, raided a rich caravan and had its travelers thrown in prison. Saladin demanded that the prisoners and their cargo be released. The newly crowned King Guy appealed to Raynald to give in to Saladin's demands, but Raynald refused to follow the king's orders.

Siege of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

The Near East, c. 1190, at the outset of the Third Crusade.
It was this final act of outrage by Raynald which gave Saladin the opportunity he needed to take the offensive against the kingdom. He laid siege to the city of Tiberias in 1187. Raymond advised patience, but King Guy, acting on advice from Raynald, marched his army to the Horns of Hattin outside of Tiberias.

The Frankish army, thirsty and demoralized, was destroyed in the ensuing battle. King Guy and Raynald were brought to Saladin's tent, where Guy was offered a goblet of water because of his great thirst . Guy took a drink and then passed the goblet to Raynald. Saladin would not be forced to protect the treacherous Raynald by allowing him to drink, as it was custom that if you were offered a drink, your life was safe. When Raynald accepted the drink, Saladin told his interpreter, "say to the King: 'it is you who have given him to drink'".[3] Afterwards, Saladin beheaded Raynald for past betrayals. Saladin honored tradition with King Guy; Guy was sent to Damascus and eventually ransomed to his people, one of the few captive crusaders to avoid execution.

By the end of the year, Saladin had taken Acre and Jerusalem. Pope Urban III is said to have collapsed and died upon hearing the news.[4] However, at the time of his death, the news of the fall of Jerusalem could not yet have reached him, although he knew of the battle of Hattin and the fall of Acre.


The new pope, Gregory VIII proclaimed that the capture of Jerusalem was punishment for the sins of Christians across Europe. The cry went up for a new crusade to the Holy Land. Henry II of England and Philip II of France ended their war with each other, and both imposed a "Saladin tithe" on their citizens to finance the venture. In Britain, Baldwin of Exeter, the archbishop of Canterbury, made a tour through Wales, convincing 3,000 men-at-arms to take up the cross, recorded in the Itinerary of Giraldus Cambrensis.

Barbarossa's crusade

The elderly Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa responded to the call immediately. He took up the Cross at Mainz Cathedral on March 27, 1188 and was the first to set out for the Holy Land in May 1189 with an army of about 100,000 men, including 20,000 knights.[2] An army of 2,000 men from the Hungarian prince Géza, the younger brother of the king Béla III of Hungary also went with Barbarossa to the Holy Land.[5]

The Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelus made a secret alliance with Saladin to impede Frederick's progress in exchange for his empire's safety. Meanwhile, the Sultanate of Rum promised Frederick safety through Anatolia, but after much raiding Frederick lost patience and on May 18, 1190, the German army sacked Iconium, the capital of the Sultanate of Rüm. Nevertheless Frederick's horse slipped on June 10, 1190, while crossing the Saleph River throwing him against the rocks. He then drowned in the river. After this, much of his army returned to Germany, in anticipation of the upcoming Imperial election. His son Frederick of Swabia led the remaining 5,000 men to Antioch. There, the emperor's body was boiled to remove the flesh, which was interred in the Church of St. Peter; his bones were put in a bag to continue the crusade. In Antioch, however, the German army was further reduced by fever. Young Frederick had to ask the assistance of his kinsman Conrad of Montferrat to lead him safely to Acre, by way of Tyre, where his father's bones were buried.

Richard and Philip's departure

Henry II of England died on July 6, 1189 following a defeat by his son Richard I (Lionheart) and Philip II. Richard inherited the crown and immediately began raising funds for the crusade. In July 1190, Richard and Philip set out jointly from Marseille, France for Sicily. Philip II had hired a Genoese fleet to transport his army which consisted of 650 knights, 1,300 horses, and 1,300 squires to the Holy Land.[2]

William II of Sicily had died the previous year, and was replaced by Tancred, who placed Joan of England—William's wife and Richard's sister—in prison. Richard captured the capital city of Messina on October 4, 1190 and Joan was released. Richard and Philip fell out over the issue of Richard's marriage, as Richard had decided to marry Berengaria of Navarre, breaking off his long-standing betrothal to Philip's half-sister Alys. Philip left Sicily directly for the Middle East on March 30, 1191, and arrived in Tyre in mid-May. He joined the siege of Acre on May 20. Richard did not set off from Sicily until April 10.

Shortly after setting sail from Sicily, Richard's armada of 100 ships (carrying 8,000 men) was struck by a violent storm. Several ships ran aground, including one holding Joan, his new fiancée Berengaria, and a large amount of treasure that had been amassed for the crusade. It was soon discovered that Isaac Dukas Comnenus of Cyprus had seized the treasure. The young women were unharmed. Richard entered Limassol on May 6, and met with Isaac, who agreed to return Richard's belongings and send 500 of his soldiers to the Holy Land. Once back at his fortress of Famagusta, Isaac broke his oath of hospitality and began issuing orders for Richard to leave the island. Isaac's arrogance prompted Richard to conquer the island within days.

Siege of Acre

King Guy was released from prison by Saladin in 1189. He attempted to take command of the Christian forces at Tyre, but Conrad of Montferrat held power there after his successful defence of the city from Muslim attacks. Guy turned his attention to the wealthy port of Acre. He amassed an army to besiege the city and received aid from Philip's newly arrived French army. However, it was still not enough to counter Saladin's force, which besieged the besiegers. In summer 1190, in one of the numerous outbreaks of disease in the camp, Queen Sibylla and her young daughters died. Guy, although only king by right of marriage, endeavoured to retain his crown, although the rightful heir was Sibylla's half-sister Isabella. After a hastily arranged divorce from Humphrey IV of Toron, Isabella was married to Conrad of Montferrat, who claimed the kingship in her name.

During the winter of 1190–91, there were further outbreaks of dysentery and fever, which claimed the lives of Frederick of Swabia, Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem, and Theobald V of Blois. When the sailing season began again in spring 1191, Leopold V of Austria arrived and took command of what remained of the imperial forces. Philip of France arrived with his troops from Sicily in May.

Richard arrived at Acre on June 8, 1191 and immediately began supervising the construction of siege weapons to assault the city. The city was captured on July 12.

Richard, Philip, and Leopold quarreled over the spoils of their victory. Richard cast down the German standard from the city, slighting Leopold. Also, in the struggle for the kingship of Jerusalem, Richard supported Guy, while Philip and Leopold supported Conrad, who was related to them both. It was decided that Guy would continue to rule, but that Conrad would receive the crown upon his death.

Frustrated with Richard (and in Philip's case, in poor health), Philip and Leopold took their armies and left the Holy Land in August. Philip left 10,000 French crusaders in the Holy Land and 5,000 silver marks to pay them.

Despite the treaty at Acre, Richard had the garrison (including women and children) massacred in full view of Saladin's camp. Not one prisoner could be saved in the subsequent effort Saladin made to rescue them by military force.[6]

Battle of Arsuf

After the capture of Acre, Richard decided to march to the city of Jaffa, where he could launch the attack on Jerusalem but on September 7, 1191, at Arsuf, 30 miles (50 km) north of Jaffa, Saladin attacked Richard's army. Saladin attempted to lure Richard's forces out to be easily picked off, but Richard maintained his formation until the Hospitallers rushed in to take Saladin's right flank, while the Templars took the left. Richard then won the battle.

Regicide and negotiations

Following his victory, Richard took Jaffa and established his new headquarters there. He offered to begin negotiations with Saladin, who sent his brother, Al-Adil to meet with Richard. Negotiations (which had included an attempt to marry Richard's sister Joan to Al-Adil) failed, and Richard marched to Ascalon. Richard's forces were halted nearly 12 times by the forces of Saladin commanded by Ayaz al-Tawil a powerful Mamluk leader, who died in combat.[7]

Richard called on Conrad to join him on campaign, but he refused, citing Richard's alliance with King Guy. He too had been negotiating with Saladin, as a defence against any attempt by Richard to wrest Tyre from him for Guy. However, in April, Richard was forced to accept Conrad as king of Jerusalem after an election by the nobles of the kingdom. Guy had received no votes at all, but Richard sold him Cyprus as compensation. Before he could be crowned, Conrad was stabbed to death by two Hashshashin in the streets of Tyre. Eight days later, Richard's nephew Henry II of Champagne married Queen Isabella, who was pregnant with Conrad's child. It was strongly suspected that the king's killers had acted on instructions from Richard.

In July 1192, Saladin's army suddenly attacked and captured Jaffa with thousands of men, but Saladin had lost control of his army because of their anger for the massacre at Acre. It was believed that Saladin even told the Crusaders to shield themselves in the Citadel until he had regained control of his army.

On September 2, 1192, Richard and Saladin finalized a treaty by which Jerusalem would remain under Muslim control, but which also allowed unarmed Christian pilgrims and traders to visit the city. Richard departed the Holy Land on October 9.


The Levant after the Third Crusade in 1200.
 Neither side was entirely discontent nor satisfied with the results of the war. Though Richard had deprived the Muslims of important coastal territories as a result of his consistent victories over Saladin, many Christians in the Latin West felt disappointed that he had elected not to pursue Jerusalem.[8] Likewise, many in the Islamic world felt disturbed that Saladin had failed to drive the Christians out of Syria and Palestine. Trade, however, flourished throughout the Middle East and in port cities along the Mediterranean coastline.[9]

Saladin's servant and biographer Baha al-Din recounted Saladin's distress at the successes of the Crusaders:
'I fear to make peace, not knowing what may become of me. Our enemy will grow strong, now that they have retained these lands. They will come forth to recover the rest of their lands and you will see every one of them ensconced on his hill-top,' meaning in his castle, 'having announced, “I shall stay put” and the Muslims will be ruined.' These were his words and it came about as he said.[10]
Richard was arrested and imprisoned in December 1192 by Duke Leopold, who suspected him of murdering his cousin Conrad of Montferrat, and had been offended by Richard casting down his standard from the walls of Acre. He was later transferred to the custody of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, and it took a ransom of one hundred and fifty thousand marks to obtain his release. Richard returned to England in 1194 and died of a crossbow bolt wound in 1199 at the age of 41.

In 1193, Saladin died of yellow fever. His heirs would quarrel over the succession and ultimately fragment his conquests.

Henry of Champagne was killed in an accidental fall in 1197. Queen Isabella then married for a fourth time, to Amalric of Lusignan, who had succeeded his brother Guy, positioned as King of Cyprus. After their deaths in 1205, her eldest daughter Maria of Montferrat (born after her father's murder) succeeded to the throne of Jerusalem.

Richard's decision not to attack Jerusalem would lead to the call for a Fourth Crusade six years after the third ended in 1192. However, Richard's victories facilitated the survival of a wealthy Crusader kingdom centered on Acre. Historian Thomas Madden summarizes the achievements of the Third Crusade:
...the Third Crusade was by almost any measure a highly successful expedition. Most of Saladin's victories in the wake of Hattin were wiped away. The Crusader kingdom was healed of its divisions, restored to its coastal cities, and secured in a peace with its greatest enemy. Although he had failed to reclaim Jerusalem, Richard had put the Christians of the Levant back on their feet again.[11]
Accounts of events surrounding the Third Crusade were written by the anonymous authors of the Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi (a.k.a. the Itinerarium Regis Ricardi), the Old French Continuation of William of Tyre (parts of which are attributed to Ernoul), and by Ambroise, Roger of Howden, Ralph of Diceto, and Giraldus Cambrensis.


  1. ^ H. Chisholm, The Encyclopædia Britannica : A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, 294
  2. J. Phillips, The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, 66
  3. ^ Lyons, Malcom Cameron and D. E. P. Jackson, Saladin: The Politics of the Holy War, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 264.
  4. ^ Hans E. Mayer, The Crusades. Oxford University Press, 1965 (trans. John Gillingham, 1972), pg. 139.
  5. ^ A. Konstam, Historical Atlas of The Crusades, 124
  6. ^ Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam Conscience and History in a World Civilization Vol 2. The University of Chicago, 1958, pg. 267.
  7. ^ "The Life of Saladin Behaudin Tekstualno". Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  8. ^ Procter, George (‏1854). History of the crusades: their rise, progress, and results‏. R. Griffin and Co.. pp. 112–116.
  9. ^ Crompton‏, Samuel Willard (2003). The Third Crusade: Richard the Lionhearted vs. Saladin. Great battles through the ages. Infobase Publishing‏. p. 64. ISBN 0-7910-7437-4.
  10. ^ al-Din, Baha; D.S. Richards (2002). The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin. Crusade Texts in Translation. 7 (1 ed.). Burlington, VT; Hampshire, England: Ashgate. p. 232. ISBN 0-7546-3381-0.
  11. ^ Madden, Thomas (2006). The New Concise History of the Crusades. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-7425-3823-8.
  • Beha-ed-Din, The Life of Saladin.
  • De Expugnatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum, translated by James A. Brundage, in The Crusades: A Documentary Survey. Marquette University Press, 1962.
  • La Continuation de Guillaume de Tyr (1184–1192), edited by Margaret Ruth Morgan. L'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1982.
  • Ambroise, The History of the Holy War, translated by Marianne Ailes. Boydell Press, 2003.
  • Chronicle of the Third Crusade, a Translation of Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi, translated by Helen J. Nicholson. Ashgate, 1997.
  • Peter W. Edbury, The Conquest of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade: Sources in Translation. Ashgate, 1996.
  • Francesco Gabrieli, (ed.) Arab Historians of the Crusades, English translation 1969, ISBN 0-520-05224-2
  • Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol. II: The Kingdom of Jerusalem, and vol. III: The Kingdom of Acre. Cambridge University Press, 1952–55.
  • Lucas Villegas Aristizabal, "Revisión de las crónicas de Ralph de Diceto y de la Gesta regis Ricardi sobre la participación de la flota angevina durante la Tercera Cruzada en Portugal", Studia Historica- Historia Medieval 27 (2009), pp. 153–170.


Thursday, August 30, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: hospitality, Psalms 145:2-7, Matthew 24:42-51, St. Jeanne Jugan, Little Sisters of the Poor devoted to the Hospitality of Elderly Poor

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: 
hospitality, Psalms 145:2-7, Matthew 24:42-51, St. Jeanne Jugan, Little Sisters of the Poor devoted to the Hospitality of Elderly Poor

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Today's Word:  hospitality   hos·pi·tal·i·ty [hos-pi-tal-i-tee]

Origin:  1325–75; Middle English hospitalite  < Middle French  < Latin hospitālitās,  equivalent to hospitāli ( s ) ( see hospital) + -tās -ty2

noun, plural hos·pi·tal·i·ties.
1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 145:2-7

2 Day after day I shall bless you, I shall praise your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is Yahweh and worthy of all praise, his greatness beyond all reckoning.
4 Each age will praise your deeds to the next, proclaiming your mighty works.
5 Your renown is the splendour of your glory, I will ponder the story of your wonders.
6 They will speak of your awesome power, and I shall recount your greatness.
7 They will bring out the memory of your great generosity, and joyfully acclaim your saving justice.


Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 24:42-51

Jesus said to his disciples: 'So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
'Who, then, is the wise and trustworthy servant whom the master placed over his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed that servant if his master's arrival finds him doing exactly that. In truth I tell you, he will put him in charge of everything he owns. But if the servant is dishonest and says to himself, "My master is taking his time," and sets about beating his fellow-servants and eating and drinking with drunkards, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.'
• The Gospel today speaks about the coming of the Lord at the end of time and exhorts us to be watchful, to watch. At the time of the first Christians, many persons thought that the end of this world was close at hand and that Jesus would have returned afterwards. Today many persons think that the end of the world is close at hand. And therefore, it is well to reflect on the meaning of vigilance, of watching.

• Matthew 24, 42: Watch. “So stay awake! Watch, because you do not know the day when your master is coming”. Concerning the day and the hour of the end of the world, Jesus had said: “But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, no one but the Father!" (Mk 13, 32). Today, many people live concerned thinking about the end of the world. Have you seen when walking through the streets of the city that it is written on the walls: “Jesus will return!” And how will this coming be? After the year 1000, basing themselves on the Gospel of John, people began to say (Rev 20, 7): “1000 years have gone by, but 2000 will not pas by!” This is why, as the year 2000 approached, many were worried. There were even some people who were anguished because of the proximity of the end of the world, so much so that they committed suicide. Others, reading the Apocalypse of John, even were able to foretell the exact hour of the end. But the year 2000 came and nothing happened. The end of the world does not arrive! Many times, the affirmation “Jesus will return” is used to frighten people and oblige them to belong to a given church! Others, because they have waited so long and have speculated so much concerning the coming of Jesus, are not aware of his presence among us, in the most common things of life, in the facts of every day.

• The same problems existed in the Christian communities of the first centuries. Many persons of the communities said that the end of this world was close at hand and that Jesus would have returned. Some of the community of Thessalonica in Greece, basing themselves on the preaching of Paul said: “Jesus will return!” (1 Th 4, 13-18; 2 Th 2, 2). And this is why, there were even persons who no longer worked because they thought that the coming of the end was so close at hand, within a few days or a few weeks so, “Why work, if Jesus will return afterwards?” (cf. 2 Th 3, 11). Paul responds that it was not so simple as they imagined. And to those who had stopped working he would say: “Anyone who does not want to work, has no right to eat!” Others remained looking up at the sky, waiting for the return of Jesus in the clouds (cf. Ac 1, 11). Others rebelled because he delayed coming back (2 P 3, 4-9). In general the Christians lived with the expectation of the imminent coming of Jesus. Jesus was coming to realize or carry out the Final Judgement to end with the unjust history of this world and to inaugurate the new phase of history, the definitive phase of the New Heaven and the New Earth. They believed that this would have taken place within one or two generations. Many persons would still be alive when Jesus would have appeared again, glorious in Heaven (1Th 4, 16-17; Mc 9, 1). Others, tired of waiting would say: “He will never come back!” (2 P 3,).

• Up until now the coming of Jesus has not arrived! How can this delay be understood? It is because they are not aware that Jesus has already returned and lives in our midst: “I am with you always, till the end of time.” (Mt 28, 20). He is already at our side, in the struggle for justice, for peace, for life. The fullness has not as yet been attained, but a guarantee of the Kingdom is already in our midst. This is why, we expect with a firm hope the full liberation of humanity and of nature (Rm 8, 22-25). And while we wait and struggle, we say with certainty: “He is already in our midst” (Mt 25, 40).

• Matthew 24, 43-51: The example of the householder and of his servants. “Consider this: if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house.” Jesus says this very clearly. Nobody knows anything regarding the hour: "Concerning this day and this hour, nobody knows anything, neither the angels, or the Son, but only the Father
What is important is not to know the hour of the end of this world, but rather to be capable to perceive the coming of Jesus who is already present in our midst in the person of the poor (cf. Mt 25, 40) and in so many other ways and events of our daily life. What is important is to open the eyes and to keep in mind the commitment of the good servant of whom Jesus speaks about in the parable.
Personal questions
• On which signs do people base themselves to say that the end of the world is close at hand? Do you believe that the end of the world is close at hand?
• What can we respond to those who say that the end of the world is close at hand? Which is the force which impels you to resist and to have hope?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Feast Day: August 30
Patron Saint: Elderly Poor

Saint of the Day:  St. Jeanne Jugan

Saint Jeanne Jugan
Saint Jeanne Jugan (October 25, 1792 – August 29, 1879), also known as Sister Mary of the Cross was born in Cancale in Brittany, France, the sixth of the eight children of Joseph and Marie Jugan. Her father died when she was very young and her mother raised this large family alone. When Jeanne was 16, she took a job as the kitchen maid of the Viscountess de la Choue. The viscountess, a devout Christian, had Jeanne accompany her when she visited the sick and the poor. Nine years later, Jeanne began working in the town hospital of Saint-Servan. She worked hard at this physically demanding job but after six years, she left the hospital and went to work for an elderly woman. In the course of Jeanne's duties, the two women recognized a similar Catholic spirituality and began to teach catechism to youngsters and care for the poor and other unfortunates, until Jeanne's friend died.

In 1837, Jeanne and a 72-year old woman (Françoise Aubert) rented part of a small cottage and were joined by Virginie Tredaniel, a 17-year old orphan. These three women then formed a Catholic community of prayer, devoted to teaching the catechism and assisting the poor. Two years later, Jeanne brought a blind widow (Anne Chauvin) to their home and even allowed the woman to sleep in her own bed. From this act of charity, with the approval of her colleagues, Jeanne then focused her attention upon the mission of assisting abandoned elderly women, and from this beginning arose a community called The Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne wrote a simple rule for this new community of women, and they daily went door-to-door requesting food, clothing and money for the women in their care. This was Jeanne's life work, and she performed this mission for the next four decades.

In 1847 based on the request of Leo Dupont (known as the Holy Man of Tours) she established a house in Tours. She was much sought after when ever problems arose and worked with religious and civil authorities to seek help for the poor.

By 1879, the community Jeanne founded had 2,400 Little Sisters and had spread across Europe and to North America. That year, Pope Leo XIII approved the constitutions for the Little Sisters of the Poor. In September 1885, the congregation arrived in South America and made a first foundation in Valparaíso, Chile, from which it expanded later on.

Jeanne died that year and was buried in the graveyard at the motherhouse at Saint-Pern. She was beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II on October 3, 1982, and canonized on October 11, 2009, by Pope Benedict XVI.

Today, pilgrims can visit the house where she was born (Cancale), the House of the Cross at Saint-Servan and the motherhouse where she lived her last 23 years at La Tour Saint Joseph in Saint-Pern.


  • Paul Milcen, 2000 Jeanne Jugan: Humble, So as to Love More Darton, Longman & Todd ISBN 0-232-52383-5

Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today's Snippet :  Little Sisters of the Poor

Little Sisters of the Poor
Founded by Saint Jeanne Jugan
The Little Sisters of the Poor is a Roman Catholic religious institute for women. It was founded in the 19th century by Saint Jeanne Jugan near Rennes, France. Jugan felt the need to care for the many impoverished elderly who lined the streets of French towns and cities.

This led her to welcome an elderly lady into her home and the work of the Little Sisters of the Poor began. Gradually Jugan built up homes in and around Rennes. In 1843 the community's spiritual advisor declined to let Jugan head the institute and so she became an ordinary sister and model of humility. Jeanne Jugan was a helper to the elderly and disabled. She used to go on the streets of France to collect money for her organization. Once when Jugan begged a young man for money, he hit her on the face. She replied with calmness, "You gave that to me, now give me something for the elderly." The man was astounded by the sweetness of her reply and with all his heart he gave her all the money he had at that time.

Today the Little Sisters of the Poor serve in 31 countries around the world (including homes in Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Penang, New Zealand and Philippines), continuing in their original purpose of caring for the elderly. In addition to the Sisters' apostolate, a semi-contemplative emphasis is also maintained within the institute. Professed sisters therefore take a new religious name - usually a saint or someone associated with the institute, and wear a full religious habit consisting of a black dress and scapular, full grey veil and a white headband which covers the hair of the sister. In warmer climates/seasons a white habit/veil is worn by the sisters. They have grown from one woman helping one woman to one of the most successful religious organizations in the world.

Vow of Hospitality

vow of service of the elderly poor
By their vow of hospitality, the Little Sisters of the Poor, promise God to consecrate themselves exclusively to the service of the elderly poor. They welcome them into their homes, form one family with them, accompany them from day to day and care for them with love and respect until God calls them home. Through their vow of hospitality the Church has given them a mandate to prolong Christ’s mission of charity—to convey to the elderly, in the concrete realities of everyday life, the kindness and love of God for them, his eldest children.

Consecrated hospitality is a witness to the mercy and compassionate love of the heart of Jesus. It is based on the words of Christ himself:
  • “Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7)
  • “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me … sick and you visited me.… Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:35–40).
Their foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan, echoed these words of our Lord as she often said, “Never forget that the poor are Our Lord. In caring for the poor say to yourself: This is for my Jesus—what a great grace!”

As Hospitaller religious the Little Sisters of the Poor lives are made up of many humble, hidden tasks. They serve the elderly day and night, striving to meet their physical needs, to make them happy and to minister to them spiritually.  They accomplish their mission together as a community, each one bringing her gifts and talents to the work of hospitality.

The accompaniment and care of the dying is the summit of their vocation. In today’s world it is an ever more powerful witness of the culture of life. By the look in his eyes or by the silence of his whole being, the elderly person who is near death asks us this question: “Does my life still have any value? Is it worth living?” To each person the Sisters respond with a resounding yes!

Thanks to Saint Jeanne Jugan’s presence among the Sisters of the Poort, they continue her spirit as they pursue our mission of hospitality today. Reflecting on the canonization of our foundress, Cardinal Francis George.

Founding Charism 

Charism:  Love of the Poor
Saint Jeanne Jugan’s founding charism, one could feel the fire of passion rising up in her … “What happiness for us, to be a Little Sister of the Poor! Making the poor happy is everything …” Littleness, love for the poor … all came together in Jeanne’s founding charism. Father Eloi Leclerc, a elderly Franciscan priest and writer, has beautifully captured the essence of Jeanne’s charism as foundress in his book, The Desert and The Rose: One notices a theme that comes up again and again in Jeanne’s recommendations to the novices: “Be little, make yourselves very little,” she would tell them. It was a kind of refrain. Indeed, she was convinced that in order to be close to the humblest and least, you had to become little yourself. You cannot establish truly close links while keeping your distance or placing yourself above others. The most high Son of God himself became the humblest of men in order to be close to all.

Jeanne gave great importance to this closeness. You had to be little in order to be close to the least. Such was the vocation of the Little Sisters of the Poor—their charism. It was not just for them a matter of giving shelter and food to the abandoned elderly. They were also to bring them a certain quality of relationship, a presence, a closeness which would draw these people out of their isolation and free them from their anguish. The Little Sisters are not ladies who condescend to devote some time every day to looking after poor people. No, they must become little themselves to enter into a close relationship with the humblest and most forsaken. One is not naturally “little,” in the evangelical sense. One becomes so. It takes time and much renunciation. Above all, one must ask for it as a grace. Such is the way Jeanne prepared the young novices for their mission, by making them aware of a fundamental demand of their vocation.

There was another point on which Jeanne insisted, connected to the first, and complementary. It is not easy to define. In her, it was a flame, first and foremost. Her eyes lit up when she spoke of it. One could feel the fire of passion rising up in her. One day she pronounced these burning words, magnificent in their simplicity: “What happiness for us, to be a Little Sister of the Poor! Making the poor happy is everything …” The whole mission and happiness of the Little Sisters is contained here: making the poor happy, giving happiness to the poor.

Jeanne’s message to the novices can therefore be summed up in these two elements: be little in order to be close to the most humble, and be close to make them happy. There you have it. There can be no better definition of the founding charism of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Early foundations

Saint Jeanne Jugan, vow of hospitality
Saint Jeanne Jugan began with very little. She is born during the French Revolution and reduced to poverty when her father is lost at sea. As a teenager she goes to work as a kitchen maid for a wealthy family. In 1817 she leaves home to work in the hospital in Saint Servan. Twenty-two years later, she is still working for other people, living in a small apartment and leading a quiet life of piety and good works.

Everything changes one night in the winter of 1839—we don’t know the exact date—when she cannot resist the sight of a blind, paralyzed old woman out in the cold with no one to care for her. Jeanne carries the old woman home and places her in her own bed. From that night on, Jeanne Jugan belongs to God and to the elderly of the whole world.  The work develops quickly. More old women are brought to her doorstep. Jeanne and her companions—one older woman and several pious young girls—offer them hospitality and care for them as if they were their own grandmothers. Giving the best place to the old women, they sleep on the attic floor.

By 1841 the “family” of old women and their caregivers outgrow the small apartment and move into larger accommodations. With the advice and support of the Hospitaller Brothers of Saint John of God, Jeanne begins collecting in the local community on behalf of her poor. This spares the old women the indignity of begging for themselves on the streets of Saint Servan.

In 1842 the group moves into an even larger building—a nearby convent that had been vacated during the Revolution. The small nucleus of pious women begins to take the form of a religious community. They call themselves the Servants of the Poor. Jeanne is elected superior. She and several others make a vow of obedience.

Re-elected as superior the next year, Jeanne is removed from office by a young priest appointed to advise the nascent community on December 23, 1843. She is given the job of collecting for the elderly in Saint Servan and its environs. In early 1844 the group changes their name to Sisters of the Poor to better reflect their desire to truly be sisters to the elderly in the Lord’s name.

Jeanne is awarded the Montyon Prize, a prestigious award given by the French Academy for meritorious work, in 1845. The next year, she founds houses in Rennes and Dinan. Then Tours. Jeanne continues to beg on behalf of the poor.

In 1847 the young Congregation holds its first General Chapter. Jeanne is not invited. In 1849, ten years after the first old woman was welcomed by Jeanne, the popular name Little Sisters of the Poor is definitively adopted.

By 1850 the Congregation numbers over 100 Little Sisters. The motherhouse and novitiate are established in Rennes in 1852. Jeanne is recalled there, told to break all contact with friends and benefactors and placed in retirement, with no specific duties. Four years later she will move to the new motherhouse in Saint Pern, to remain there—hidden in the shadows—for the rest of her life.

The Congregation receives diocesan approval on May 29, 1852. It is recognized as a Pontifical Institute by Pope Pius XI on July 9, 1854. Pope Leo XIII approves the Constitutions of the Little Sisters of the Poor for a period of seven years on March 1, 1879. By then there are 2,400 Little Sisters in 9 countries.

Hidden away in La Tour, Jeanne Jugan dies on August 29, 2879, at age 86. She is no longer recognized as the foundress. But like the grain of wheat that falls into the ground her life bears much fruit …

Expansion of the Congregation

While continuing to spread all over France, the Congregation takes root in England in 1851 despite great hardships and resistance in some quarters due to anti-Catholic sentiments (this painting, by James Collinson, depicts the early days in London). Belgium is next, and then Spain, Ireland and North Africa. A young priest named Ernest LeLievre dedicates his life to the Little Sisters, eventually traveling all over the world to establish homes for the elderly.

Father LeLievre (pictured here) sets out for America in 1868, stating, “As we leave the old world for the new, we still have the same responsibilities, the same struggle, the same people, the same God. On the shores of the Mississippi, as on the banks of the Jordan, the world has need of being renewed.” He lands in New York June 10, 1868 and in the next four years he will pave the way for the establishment of 13 homes in the United States.

Before leaving America in the summer of 1872 to establish more homes in France and Spain, LeLievre writes to his cousin back in France, “The work of the Little Sisters here has succeeded far beyond what I ever expected. The thirteen homes founded on this continent are all the owners of the houses they occupy, or of the land on which they will build when necessary … Such a success and all it demands, I admit, is overwhelming.…”

American foundations

The first group of Little Sisters destined for America leaves the motherhouse on August 28, 1868; Jeanne Jugan helps to see them off. After a long journey by boat they set foot on American soil in Brooklyn, New York, on September 13, 1868. No one speaks English.

Soon after arriving in Brooklyn the Little Sisters receive their first donation, a gift of $20.00, from Rev. Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulists. After welcoming their first Residents, the Sisters write back to the motherhouse: “The public appear delighted to see that we are willing to work for the poor; that we ask no endowment; that we desire to trust in Providence and in the generosity of the public.”

A second group of Sisters arrives in Cincinnati on October 14, 1868. The arrangements for this house have been facilitated by Sarah Worthington Peter, a convert to Catholicism and daughter of an Ohio senator, who visited the motherhouse herself to ask for a foundation in Cincinnati. A Catholic physician agrees to care for the Residents and is so touched after his first consultation that he takes off his coat and gives it to one of the old men.

Six days before Christmas a third group of Little Sisters arrives in New Orleans. They are thrilled to discover that the house being offered to them by a group of charitable ladies is already named “Home of St. Joseph.” As a show of support, the municipal government paves the street in front of the home and approves an allowance of $1,000 to pay for repairs to the building.

On April 6, 1869 the Little Sisters establish their work in Baltimore. The seminary, staffed by French Sulpicians, offers donations of food and their moral support. Bishop Spalding states, “The Little Sisters of the Poor are called to do a great deal of good in America, not only among the poor, but also among the rich; for words no longer suffice—works are necessary.”

From Baltimore the Little Sisters head west, establishing a house in Saint Louis on May 3, 1869. “What are you going to do in a house where there is nothing?” people ask them. “Wait a few days,” they reply, as they set out to clean and furnish their new home. Observing the Little Sisters, Bishop Ryan comments, “If one builds on holy poverty, Providence cements the building.” The Sisters regularly receive help from a steamboat company on the Mississippi that solicits donations from their passengers and sets aside leftovers from the dining room, all to the benefit of the aged poor of Saint Louis.

Philadelphia opens its doors to the Little Sisters on August 24, 1869. An act of generosity on the part of a young Philadelphian is particularly touching. Mary Twibill, a young woman of 18, is dying. Her father gives her the choice of having a fine monument made for her grave, or of leaving a sum of money to the poor. “What use will it be to have a beautiful monument after my death?” she asks. “I prefer to give the money to the Little Sisters of the Poor.” And so the Little Sisters receive a legacy of $1,000 from Mary Twibill.

Louisville welcomes the Little Sisters just one month later. Bishop MacCloskey gives his assistance by lending them an estate that had been intended for a seminary, arranging the chapel himself and celebrating the Sisters’ first Mass. The Little Sisters write back to the motherhouse, “Divine Providence provided according to our needs; within a few days, our house was found furnished with beds, tables, chairs, kitchen utensils and provisions of all kinds. We were quite overcome with gratitude towards the good God, who disposed so well people’s hearts in our favor.”

The Little Sisters arrive in Boston on April 19, 1870. As he witnesses the generosity of the local citizens in helping the Sisters to furnish the two houses given to them, the Superior of the local Jesuit community remarks, “What I admire is that these Sisters are such as people describe them. One sees that they not only have confidence in Providence, but that they have not a doubt of its protection. One sees that they do not calculate, they do not reckon, they do not ask what people will give them for the needs of their poor.”
In the spring of 1870, the Little Sisters also open a home in Cleveland. A good German family provides them with linens, mattresses and all sorts of necessary items, while the bishop, along with a wealthy Protestant, contribute toward the purchase of a suitable property.

The tenth home is established in our Nation’s Capital on February 2, 1871. Together with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Father Walter, parish priest of St. Patrick’s Church, Washington, D.C., provides the Sisters with a house with carpeted rooms, numerous fire places, plenty of furniture and a well-stocked kitchen. When the Little Sisters remove the carpets, the good priest is edified by their spirit of poverty. The home gains considerable political support and the Little Sisters are authorized to beg for donations in Federal government buildings—an unprecedented privilege that continued uninterrupted until the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Back in La Tour, it is widely known that Jeanne Jugan has a soft spot in her heart for the first American young women who cross the ocean to begin their formation as Little Sisters. Despite protests from some of the other novices, she showers them with special attentions, insisting that they are the first missionaries of the Congregation.

Many years later, one of these Little Sisters remembers the foundress’ kindness: “I have never forgotten her kindness to us… She would often ask to see the Little Sister postulants from America. Some of the others would say that they were jealous because she liked the Americans. She would reply that that wasn’t fair because they were the first missionaries of the little family, and that they had crossed the wide ocean, being sixteen days at sea; that it was heroic for young girls to come from so far away, to say good-bye to their parents, their country and even to make the sacrifice of their own language in order to come here to prepare for the life of a Little Sister. It needed a double vocation” (testimony of Sr. Augustine de St. Laurent).

By the 1950s the Congregation has 52 homes for the aged across the United States. With the passage of the Life Safety Code and the dawn of nursing home regulations in the 1960s, nearly all the homes must be replaced. Some are combined, others closed, but many are rebuilt. Today they have 30 homes for the needy elderly in the United States and one in Canada.

Admission to Little Sisters of the Poor Homes

Admission to Little Sisters of the Poor homes is open to low-income elderly of at least 60 years of age, regardless of race, nationality or religion. Individuals, married couples and elderly priests are welcome to apply.

While each of Little Sisters of the Poor homes is unique in size and layout, all are comprised of several levels of care. These may include nursing home, intermediate care, residential or assisted living and/or independent living apartments (terminology varies according to states). Throughout the United States, Little Sisters of the Poor nursing home beds are generally Medicaid and Medicare licensed.

When a home has an opening in its assisted living or nursing home areas, Little Sisters of the Poor first look at their current Residents to determine if anyone needs a higher level of care. When all of their Residents are appropriately placed, the available room is offered to senior(s) in the community. Little Sisters of the Poor recognize the great need for senior living and care. It is their goal to help as many individuals as possible and to assist those they cannot help with locating other resources in the community.

The admission process is home-specific. It usually begins informally with an phone call to discern if the prospective Resident would be an appropriate candidate for the home. After determining if the individual meets the age, financial, and medical criteria, the Little Sisters of the Poor will send an application requiring more detailed information. When the appropriate time comes, a tour of the home is scheduled. Some homes require a brief acquaintance visit to help discern further if they can meet the individual’s needs and expectations at the presumed level of care.

Some of Little Sisters of the Poor homes have socially-oriented senior day programs through which they offer low-income seniors in the local community the possibility of participating in their pastoral and activity programs, enjoying a hot meal, engaging in volunteer service or simply socializing with their contemporaries in a warm, friendly environment.

They encourage family involvement in the life of their loved one and in the activities and life of the home.
If you are interested in learning more about a specific home, or in beginning the application process for yourself or a loved one, please contact the Little Sisters of the Poor admissions coordinator in the home where you intend to apply.
For more information: 
  • Little Sisters of the Poor website: 
  • Little Sisters of the Poor Directory of USA Homes:

Little Sisters Around the World

France -

Chile/Argentina -

India -

Ireland and UK -

Italy -

South Korea -

Spain -

Taiwan -


  • The Life of Blessed Jeanne Jugan (Sister Mary of the Cross) full online book.
  • Paul Milcen, 2000 Jeanne Jugan: Humble, So as to Love More Darton, Longman & Todd ISBN 0-232-52383-5
  • Little Sisters of the Poor.