Pope Pius II offers to go on Crusade against the Turks: a rousing call to arms

October 11, 2018

We shall imitate our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, the holy and pure shepherd who hesitated not to lay down His life for His sheep. We too will lay down our life for our flock since in no other way can we save the Christian religion from being trampled by the forces of the Turk. We will equip a fleet as large as the resources of the Church will permit. We will embark, old as we are and racked with sickness. We will set our sails and voyage to Greece and Asia … We hear you whispering. You say, “If you believe war to be so difficult, how can you go on without securing adequate strength?” We are coming to that point. An unavoidable war with the Turks threatens us. Unless we take arms and go to meet the enemy we think all is over with religion… It is either war or infamy for us.

The Battle with torches. It depicts the The Night Attack of Târgovişte, a skirmish fought between forces of Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia and Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire on Thursday, June 17, 1462.

We must change to paths long disused … Abstinence, purity, innocence, zeal for the Faith, religious fervor, scorn of death, have set the Church of Rome over the whole world … By martyrs and confessors alike our Church was made great. It cannot be preserved unless we imitate our predecessors … there is no longer room for choice. We must go.

(From Leona C. Gabel, ed., and Florence A. Gragg, trans., Memoirs of a Renaissance Pope: The Commentaries of Pius II: An Abridgement [New York: Capricorn Books, 1959], pp. 356–9.)



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