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Blessed Marco D’Aviano . . . Capuchin Defender Of The Faith Against Militant Islam

April 8, 2016 Featured Today No Comments


One of the glories of the Franciscan Capuchin Order, Blessed Marco d’Aviano (1631-1699), was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 27, 2003. Devotion to Blessed Marco had always been strong in the Capuchin order and he was especially esteemed by St. Leopoldo of Castelnuovo (1866-1942), that great Apostle of Unity with the Eastern Orthodox and confessor of souls.
In beatifying the Capuchin, Pope John Paul II declared him to have been “the center of a vast spiritual renewal thanks to his courageous preaching accompanied by miraculous prodigies.”
British writer Dr. Harriet Murphy, who has attracted attention to the saintly Capuchin as “the Savior of Vienna and Europe,” noted: “Blessed Marco d’Aviano was the spiritual force behind the historic military victory of Catholic Europe over Islam in 1683. He was an Italian Capuchin Friar who worked with the Hapsburgs to achieve a great victory in the Battle for Vienna which saved Europe from Islamic conquest.
“Preaching prayer and penance to the worldly court and people, he told the monarch (the devout Leopold I, 1658-1705) and the faithful that they faced the threat of decimation by an imminent Muslim invasion of the Habsburg Empire and warned them of the punishment of a just God who was angered by the laxity of His followers. He told them that the Muslims could only be defeated by radical repentance and fearlessness, and confidence in the mercy of God.”
He traveled and preached incessantly in Germany and Hungary, calling on both Catholics and Protestants to convert and make reparation for their sins, and he exhorted the Protestants in the Hapsburg Emperor’s army to be reconciled to the Catholic faith. He cried out to his fellow Catholics: “Vienna, Vienna, your love of lax living has prepared you a grave and imminent chastisement: convert, and consider well what you are doing. O wretched Vienna.”
In 1683 Europe was still suffering from the spread of Protestantism, the destruction wrought by the Thirty Years War, and the plague which caused over 100,000 deaths. Faced with the apathy of many to mount another crusade to save Europe, Pope Innocent XI appointed Blessed Marco d’Aviano as apostolic nuncio and papal legate, and his personal envoy to the Emperor Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, to resolve the disputes among the armies of the “Holy League,” which included Austria, the Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Venice, and the Papal States.
To arouse and unify the Christian combatants, the Capuchin preacher engaged in a “war of words” against the threat of Islamic invasion, denouncing the doctrinal heresies of Islam, and fervently invoking the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
To this day, many of her paintings and pictures remain in the churches of Austria in commemoration of the great victory of 1683, which saved the nation and Vienna in particular from the ravages being perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks.
The battle for Vienna, which had been under siege for two months, was fought on September 12, 1683, against a great Ottoman Turkish force of 170,000 which included a large contingent of fierce Janissaries. Before the battle, Blessed Marco d’Aviano celebrated Mass. The main commander of the league’s forces, outnumbered two to one, was the great warrior John III Sobieski, King of Poland, who, with 3,000 of his famed “Winged Hussars,” led 18,000 horsemen in one of the largest cavalry charges in history, to utterly rout the enemy and save Vienna.
Afterward, Sobieski is reported to have paraphrased the famous words of Julius Caesar (Veni, vidi, vici): “I came, I saw, I conquered” with his own “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit”: “I came, I saw, God conquered!”
As the writer of the Wikipedia article on the Battle of Vienna further commented: “The battle marked the historic end of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Europe. . . . Soon the Ottomans disposed of their defeated commander. On December 25, 1693, Kara Mustafa Pasha was executed in Belgrade in the approved manner, by strangulation with silk rope pulled by several men on each end, by order of the commander of the Janissaries.”
Among Blessed Marco’s writings is his little book On the Gravity of Mortal Sin which saw two Italian editions and which merits an English translation in an age which ignores the reality of sin, both original and personal, and rejects the sinner’s need for making reparation to God. In the following words from his masterpiece, we can still hear this great preacher’s call to penance:
“It is necessary to be crystal clear here: Sin is by definition and in essence an unending injury against God’s Majesty; it is a way of contacting an infinite kind of debt with evil, creating such an abyss of ugliness that not even the respectful homage of creatures can cancel the debt sufficiently. Consider that not being able to pay this immense debt, our Lord chose to pay it on our behalf by becoming man — the Incarnation — out of an excess of goodwill and love, and to make satisfaction for all our sins. His sacrifice won for us an infinite treasure of merits, on which we can all draw.
“For this purpose, if it was out of a superabundance of sighs that Christ ascended into Heaven, it also shows beyond a shadow of a doubt how He hated sin, to make us understand the gravity of evil and to show us the cost of the medicine He offered us, and He proved this to us by taking upon Himself so much pain, internal and external, that it is not possible for any of us to fully appreciate His torments” (translated by Dr. Harriet Murphy to whom I am indebted for the above quotation and her view that Blessed Marco d’Aviano saw the rise of Islam as a punishment for the sins of Catholics.)

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