Sunday, July 30, 2006

I've Always Wondered About That Picture
A linchpin of history?

For almost a year, I've had the very top photo of the priest celebrating the traditional Latin Mass as the "intro pic" for this blog.

I'll admit, I just thought it was kind of a neat picture that dovetailed nicely into the whole 'caveman' theme. I knew that it was from a place in Spain named Covadonga, and I also remember enough High School Spanish to know that Covadonga comes from two words, cueva meaning “cave” and donga meaning “deep”, but never gave it a second thought.

But then I ran into a posting by Karen over at Some Have Hats concerning Our Lady of Covadonga.

Karen posted an excellent summary of Covadonga. Take a few minutes and read this. Being a history major, I'm a firm believer that small things change the course of history. We all know the old saying, "missing a bus can change the course of your life".

I shudder to think what would have happened if Don Pelayo had lost that battle. Would we all be bowing to Mecca five times a day?

"In 711 a. d. the Arab conquerors established a new Islamic kingdom in Spain. They became the unquestioned leaders. Both Christian bishops and princes submitted to them. (some things never change, huh?) This Moorish presence continued until the end of the fifteenth century.

The only one to resist this initial onslaught of Islam was Don Pelayo. King Rodrigo had perished in the early part of the invasion. Pelayo with a small band of knights and soldiers retreated to the dark hills and mountains of Asturia. Their little army hid for seven years preparing for the final battle. In 718 the Moors sent an entire army into Asturia with orders to destroy Don Pelayo and his men. Pelayo retired with his men to the sanctuary of the Madonna, the cave of Covadonga.

Pelayo spent the night in prayer and solemnly vowed to win a victory or be ready to perish in the fray. (Legend also has it that the Virgin Mary appeared to him during this time.) When the Moors appeared with their immense army Pelayo and his men seemed doomed. Arrows darkened the sky, and the mountain air was filled with darts and lances. Suddenly the contenders realized that these weapons did not reach them but merely bounced off the rocks. The Moors began to flee in confusion. Pursued by this small Christian band, the enemy made for the safety of the plains at Mont Auceva. A tremendous rainstorm broke over the hills; the river Deva overflowed the banks, and a landslide of mud crushed the Saracen army.

After the victory of 718, Spain was not yet saved. The greater part of the country remained for centuries under Moorish domination. Nevertheless this victory had the greatest significance for the future of the peninsula and for Christianity. Don Pelayo, chief of the Visigoths, became King of Asturia and united the remaining Visigoths and the Hispano-Roman tribes.

Deeper Significance

What was the deeper significance of this battle? It was the first resistance to the onslaught of Islam and the first victory for the Christians against this immense force that threatened to destroy Christian Europe as it had succeeded in destroying the Christian Church of Palestine and all of Asia Minor in the mid east. It was through the intervention of the Blessed Virgin that this victory was achieved.

This victory of Pelayo and his courageous men stemmed the tide of the onslaught. Over the ensuing centuries Spain continued to push back the Moors, until the final push during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella at the end of the fifteenth century. Spain was saved for the Church. This struggle of the Church and the Christian nations was to continue into the seventeenth century. The Christian victory was finally sealed with the victory of the Christian fleet at the battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571; and ultimately with the victory of the Christian armies under Jan Sobieski of Poland and the Cossack army of Kulchitsky against the Turkish army at the Battle of Vienna in 1683."


Blogger Gaufridus said...

Pelagius was a stud.

Here's a photo of the moment in his memory at Covadonga:

1:13 PM  

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