Embattled for the Faith and Education

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Concerns and strives of 11th century Christians

The eleventh century remains a time of confrontation between the Arab and the Christian leaders in Spain, with the reconquest of Seville by El Sid, in 1094, and the partial unification of the Iberian peninsula under the Catholic king of Navarre.

In  the East, closer to us, Byzantium looses Ankara as well as Jerusalem to the Seljuk Turks, who ban the Christian pilgrims from visiting the Holy Land. Byzantium, then, turns to the West for help.

Although the Eastern church had already been separated from Rome in 1054, Pope Urban II responds to the emperor’s Alexis I Komnenos  plea and calls all Christians to the arms in order to liberate the Holy Land and to put an end to the Turks’ onslaught.

Thus, the First Crusade effectively begins (1095-1999).

The crusaders succeed in the reconquest of Nicaea, Antioch and Jerusalem and establish small states, namely, the kingdom of Jerusalem, the county of Edessa, the principality of Antioch  and the county of Tripoli among others.

The Seljuk Turks cannot effectively react because of inner divisions, but they finally retake Edessa, in 1144. That recapture became the reason for the convocation of the Second Crusade in 1147.

The Second Crusade (1147-1149) failed in the East, but was met with success in the West, namely in Portugal, liberating Lisbon and the city of Tortoza from the Muslim yoke.

The great majority of those who participated in the Crusades were Catholic Christians, there were, however, Oriental Christians among them too.

st-bernardIn reality, the Lord, coming to transform our impure body and make it similar to his glorious body, because our heart has already been transformed and has become like his humble heart, tells us: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt. 11, 29).

Take note: There are two kinds of humility: one coming from conviction and one springing from the heart.

The former comes from ourselves and from our weaknesses, showing us that we are nothing; the latter we learn at the school of the one who “humbled himself taking the very nature of a servant” (Phil. 2, 7) and with that humility we trample upon the glory of the world.

(Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1158), homily no. 4, § 4)

Saint Bernard supported and promoted the Second Crusade.

Did you know…

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The Athens University, the first university of Greece, which king Otto brought forth, was founded on 3rd May 1837, and it, initially, comprised four faculties: Theology, law, Medicine and the Arts. The Arts included Applied Science and Mathematics.

The person who inspired its founding was Ioannis Kapodistria, the first governor of Greece.

Kapodistria was born in Corfu, with origin from Istria on the Adriatic. He did his studies at the Catholic convent of Saint Justine in Garitsa, Corfu, where he learned Latin, Italian and French.

His work and influence at the newly-emergent Greek state regarding the foundation of its institutions is well known; however, what is less well known is the influence Catholic Education has had in his life and work.

We may with certainty say that Tertiary education in Greece is not unrelated to the ages-long academic tradition of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic University

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Born from the heart of the Church, the Catholic University is in the current of the tradition from the very beginnings of the University as an institution. It has always been recognized as an incomparable centre of creativity and spread of knowledge for the benefit of humankind.

Because of its vocation, it is devoted to the research, teaching and formation of its students, who freely get together with their professors in their common love for knowledge.

Along with every other university, the Catholic University participates in the joy of the truth, so precious at every level of knowledge!

The privileged work of the Catholic University lies in its “existential union”, through mental effort, of two orders of reality, which very often tend to be put in juxtaposition one with the other, as if they were opposed one to the other, namely the search for the truth and the certainty of faith that we already know the well-spring of the truth.

Pope John-Paul II, Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, 1989

click here for Greek


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