Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe. New York: Anchor , Doubleday, 1996. Print.
Just over two months ago I went on a trip to Europe, where I got to experience many of the most important places in history. When I was over there I remembered something I learned about in Dr. Haluska’s English Literature class—the White Martyrdom.
There are actually three colors of martyrdom:
1) The traditional Red Martyrdom which spilled the blood of countless (mostly early) Christians. Of this Martyrdom Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
2) The Green Martyrdom was a way for Irish clerics to copy the early desert hermits. They moved away from civilization, hoping to find God in the solitude and beauty of nature, as well as in the written Word of God.
These hermitages very quickly became monasteries, and the monasteries quickly became cultural centers at a time when all of civilization was collapsing (the mid-to-late fifth century to the early-to-mid sixth century—when Rome was collapsing). They collected books from all over the known world, on topics both sacred and secular.
3) The most moving to me (at this point) is the White Martyrdom. There was a main priest of the monetary, who was called the Abbot. Under the Abbot were twelve priests who were awaiting ordination. When they had learned and grown enough to be ordained, they were charged with the task of starting a new monetary, and in doing so they would spread the Gospel of Christ with the pagans they came in contact with.
It wasn’t as easy as it is now, though, to move to a faraway land. These freshly ordained Abbots oftentimes didn’t even know where they were going. They would just pack a small boat and sail into the white, foggy morning—never to be heard from by their friends again. Some didn’t even pack oars, instead trusting God to guide them.
They didn’t just drop off the face of the earth, though. They witnessed to much of Europe, making their way as far west as modern-day Kiev in Ukraine. They formed new monasteries in places like Salzburg and Vienna, Liège and Würzburg.
James Bullock remarked, “All England north of the Thames was indebted to the Celtic mission for its conversion” because the British Christians hated their Saxon invaders—the same people who had pushed them out of their lands into modern-day Wales. It was the Celtic missionary martyrs who brought the gospel to England.
As I mentioned, I got the idea for this post from a lecture from Dr. Haluska’s English Literature class. He quoted from a book by Thomas Cahill: “How the Irish Saved the World,” which I read in preparation for this article.
Date: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 (for Monday, June 30, 2014)
Time: 9:06 am local time (3:06 am EST)
Place: On the train between Vienna and Prague
Monday gave every indication of being an easier day—we didn’t have anywhere to be after Lisa’s lecture until about 11:30, and that was just to get on the metro to go up a few stops to Schönbrunn palace, the summer home of Maria Theresa (and later her famous great-grandchildren, Franz Joseph [I think] and his wife Elisabeth [called Sissi]).
Dr. Wohler’s verse for the day was Psalm 84—How Lovely are Thy Dwelling Places. Which was the perfect verse for the day’s itinerary.
The Holy Roman Empire was a loose confederation of states with the Emperor being elected from the kings of the states, though from the 1400s onward it was the generally the king of Austria.
The Hapsburg dynasty began in the 1300s in Switzerland, with Charles V living at the same time as Martin Luther. He was the Holy Roman Emperor, and also king of Spain and the Americas (neither of which fell under the HRE). Charles decided to retire from ruling, and also decided to split up his empire. He made his nephew the Holy Roman Emperor (and king of Austria), and his son got Spain and America. They basically left the other one alone, except for when they needed to fight France (which was between them).
At this time the various cantons (in Switzerland) and dutchies were allowed to choose to be either Protestant or Catholic, depending on who was in charge. The Protestants generally allied with the Protestants and the Catholics with the Catholics. The Hapsburgs remained Catholics. Under their rule Austria became the second largest European country.
The last great war fought in Europe over religion was the Thirty Years War, which actually lasted 30 years (from 1618-1648), and it was very devastating—almost as devastating as the plague had been. This was a war between Catholics and Protestants, but the Pope usually sided with the Protestants.
The war ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, which can be seen as the beginning of the modern era. This is when we became “civilized enough” to not fight over “superstition” (religion) but instead fight over important things like land and money. I hope you hear the sarcasm in my voice. As Christians we believe that the only thing really worth fighting for is Christ (but then we are given a headache because he wouldn’t want us to fight), but they saw that as fighting over superstition.
The 1700s saw the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, and from this Enlightenment came the idea of Enlightenment Rule. There should be one law for everyone. People should become homogenous. The problem with that, however, is deciding whose culture to choose. This was the age of benevolent despots and a centralization of power, all of which sounds good on paper, but that is flawed in real life. Revolutions during this time were not against the backwards governments, but were instead against the governments who were trying hard to modernize.
They weren’t just trying to reform, however. They wanted to become a powerful Empire in the style of Rome, which included being the center of art and culture. Maria Theresa (Queen of Austria) was against the church, because it was trying to take away some of her power, but the common people were for the church because they felt like it was the only one looking out for the common people.
During the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century Austria fought for the French nobility (partially because of Marie Antoinette, the daughter of Maria Theresa was queen there) and partially because when one monarchy goes, others tend to follow. In 1804 they fought Napoleon.
The year 1848 is very important in European history because it was the year of many historical independence movements, including the movement for Hungarian Independence. This was the age of nationalism. Every people group should have their own country in their own language. The Austrians didn’t want to lose Hungary, so they agreed to a dual monarchy, turning the Austrian Empire into the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
On June 28, 1914 (100 years ago Sabbath) the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Throne (Francis Ferdinand) was killed by Serbian anarchists who wanted to have their own country. Then came World War I. After Francis Ferdinand was killed the Austrians wanted to wipe out Serbia, who called on the Russians for help, prompting the Austrians to call on the Germans.
The goal of this war was to be the last war that needed to be fought. The countries vowed to split up territories into Nationalistic regions at the close of the war, problems from which we are still dealing with today. The problems in Syria and Lebanon can be attributed to this arbitrary splitting. Now tribes are split between several countries, forcing tension.
When we got to Schönbrunn we were told we were going on the Grand Tour, which included an audio guide (yay!). It’s so much easier to appreciate the tour of 40 rooms with the audio guide instead of trying to read the signs (which aren’t always in English) around the crowd.
I really enjoyed the palace, though they encouraged me to not take pictures. Luckily, though, the postcards were fairly cheap, so I bought a few.
After we went outside the palace we walked through the French gardens on the grounds of Schönbrunn. French gardens are gardens that are very manicured and perfect. They are contrasted with English gardens, which are allowed to grow wild.
From Schönbrunn we walked around Vienna for a while. Dr. Wohlers had us walk past the winter palace of the Hapsburgs (the name of which I can’t remember), the Spanish Riding School (which is closed for renovations, but which would normally hold the Lipizzaner horses which are trained in ballet), eventually winding up at Stefansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral).
I went to St. Stephen’s last year with dad and took a picture of one of the organs, but I didn’t realize that there are two more. I was able to walk up much closer to the front this time around, and I tried to take pictures of the new organ (which Judy doesn’t quite approve of) and the smaller choir organ, too. Unfortunately they didn’t come out very well, but it was fun to see them. Now I can report back to Judy that I finally saw the right organ (and that it only took me two trips).
We made it back to our hotel again (I can actually navigate the city of Vienna, which is slightly alarming), and took some time to eat, some of us changed, then we went to the Musikverein in time for a concert by the Vienna Mozart Orchestra in the Golden Hall. The orchestra performed in Mozart costumes, which added a little bit of flair, but it was also quite cheesy. The music was outstanding.
On the program were two overtures by Mozart, quite a few opera arias and duets (including La ci darem la mano & Papageno/Papagena), the first movements of Mozart’s symphony no. 40 and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and several other pieces. The concert was concluded by the Racoszy March by Johann Strauss, Sr., which calls for audience participation. We got to clap, and it was so much fun!
At the close of the concert the conductor threw the baton into the audience, but unfortunately I was too far away to even have a hope of catching it. I would rather catch someone’s baton than a baseball (and probably more than a garter). What a souvenir it would be!
We walked back to the hotel, and went to bed. We needed to be out fairly early the next day, as we were going to Prague.
Love to all!
Date: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 (for Sunday, June 29, 2014)
Time: 8:43 am local time/2:43 am EST
Place: Train between Vienna and Prague
Sorry it’s been so long since I wrote last. We’ve been out late the last few nights, and I didn’t want to stay up beyond that. I’ve got a five hour train trip now, though, so I’ve got plenty of time.
When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they were getting off their night train in Vienna. We walked to our hostel, which was named after Adolf Kolping, who lived from 1813-1865 and was an advocate for apprentices (which are called journeymen in German). We tried to check in, but they wouldn’t let us until 2 o’clock, though they did let us leave our luggage. We walked back to the metro station and took the train from Längenfeldstraße to the museum district where we went to the Kunsthistoriches museum (Historical art museum).
This museum had a nice exhibit of Egyptian artifacts, but I went through it, I was looking for a restroom, so I walked quickly. There was a very nice gallery of paintings (which had chairs to sit down and enjoy them) which included a very famous painting of Marie Antoinette, her future husband Louis XVI, and empress Maria Theresa. There was also one of St. Michael fighting demons which was especially stunning.
We left the museum at about 1:15 to get back on the metro to go back to our hostel. We got there a few minutes early, but were able to check in. We had one hour to shower (if desired, which it was since we hadn’t gotten to shower on the train) and be ready to go to the ballet.
The rooms weren’t anything special (at all), but they were clean and private. Joel and I stayed with the two Chrisses and I got a bottom bunk. By this point it had started to rain (making it nice and cool), so walking to the Volksoper was an adventure. Dr. Wohlers only knew how to get there at night, so we got lost for a few minutes, but it wasn’t bad.
When we went into the hall we saw the curtain, and I was immediately terrified of what the music would sound like. The ballet is fairly recent, and is called Ein Reigen (I think. I don’t know where my ticket is at this moment). The curtain said Ein Reigen, but also had a few slightly garish (and definitely primitive) figures on it. We’re still not quite sure what the ballet was about, but the music was really nice. It was a combination of Dmitri Shostakovich and George Gershwin, with a few tunes by Johann Strauss, Jr. thrown in for good measure.
I’m ashamed to say it, but I fell asleep during both acts of the ballet, though in my defense I didn’t know what was going on, it was a comfortable temperature, and the music was exquisite. I couldn’t help but fall asleep.
When the ballet was over we walked back to the Hostel (by this time it was between 6:30 and 7:30, and I was ready to be done for the day. Joel and Chris went to do laundry, but I stayed in and wrote journals.
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.