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                           The Past and the Present
                    
  From Tours to Lourdes to Fatima to Today

                                       In Europe, the 700's A.D.

      Twelve long centuries before I was born in 1932, an event of no small importance took place in Europe, the continent of my father's birth. In the year 732, the advance of Islam in Europe was halted at the Battle of Tours, in what is now France. The historian Sir Edward Creasy lists it in his book, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, and wrote that the victory of Tours decisively checked the Arabic career of conquest in western Europe. He said it "rescued Christendom" and the Saracens made "no further serious attempts at conquest beyond the Pyrenees." The battle took place on the hundreth year after death of Muhammad in 632. (The term Saracen was used for Muslims, as was the term Moor).

        A map of 600 A.D. shows the West Gothic Kingdom occupying a large swath of the Iberian Peninsula, where Portugal and Spain are today. Then, a map of about 800 A.D. shows a huge chunk of the peninsula under the Caliphate of Cordova, reflecting the fact that in 711 Moors from North Africa invaded the Iberian Peninsula, calling it Al-Andalus.

      To the north and east of the Muslim-occupied territory on the map of 800
A.D., lay the land of the Franks. In 732 the Saracens, invading this territory, penetrated as far north as Tours on the Loire River. Here Charles Martel defeated them. Francis Trochu, an international historian of note (has books honored by the Academie Francaise), says that the Sararens retreated to Spain with some holding out in fortresses in Aquitaine, one being the castle of Mirambel in the foothills of the Pyrenees, mountains that rise between France and Spain.

                    An Ancient Account of What Happened Near Today's Lourdes

      Trochu said in 778 Charlemagne attacked the garrison there and laid siege to the castle. In the fortress was one Mirat who swore by Mohamet that "he would not surrender to any mortal man. The stronghold seemed impregnable, and the siege was prolonged.

      According to an account in Trochu's Saint Bernadette Soubirous, an eagle dropped a trout inside the walls of the enemy-held fortress. The bird had seized the fish from a river known as the Gave. Another account, a legendary one, says the trout was enormous and the eagle dropped it at Mirat's feet.  Trochu wrote that the “still floundering” fish was sent to the besieger to indicate that they had plenty of food.  Trochu says Charlemagne was discouraged and thought of lifting the siege. But, he wrote, Roracius, Bishop of Le Puy and Chaplain of the Frankish army, smelled a ruse.

     He arranged an audience with Mirat and saw that the Saracens had run out of resources. Mirat stood by his oathThe bishop asked him: "Brave prince, you have sworn never to yield to any mortal man.  Could you not with honour make your surrender to an immortal lady?  Mary, Queen of Heaven, has her throne at Le Puy, and I am her humble minister  there."   Freed of his oath, Mirat accepted, and surprising as it may seem became a Christian, baptized under the name Lorus.  Knighted by Charlemagne, he received command of the fortress.  The learned assert, so it's said, that it's from Lorus that the name Lourdes comes.

                                    End of Muslim Rule on Iberian Peninsula

      Over period of time the Christian kingdoms reclaimed the land under Muslim domination, in what's called the Reconquista. By 1276 only the Kingdom of Granada in Spain was under Muslim control, and in 1492 the Spanish conquered it, ending Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula.

                                   Possible Links from the Past to the Present

        I can see symbolism in this story and its possible and plausible application into the future.  The fish is a symbol for Christ and the eagle is a Christian symbol for the Gospel of John, wherein from the Cross, Christ established a special relationshipa spiritual relationship between His mother Mary and His disciple John who was standing there at the foot. A disciple is a term that has a wide application to His followers.  We may plausibly interpret this as a Christian sign being dropped inside the Muslim walls.  The account subsequently says that through Mary, Mirat surrendered.

     Centuries later, in 1858, Mary would manifest herself, near to where this had happened, appearing to a poor girl named Bernadette Soubirous.
 When Bernadette first saw the Blessed Virgin, she attempted to say the Rosary but was unable to lift her hand to her forehead, to make the Sign of the Cross.  It wasn't until Mary did so, taking up the Rosary from where it hung on her arm. Mary passed the beads through her fingers but let Bernadette say the prayers alone except for the Glory Be.

      The part of Our Father about "our trespasses" wouldn't apply to her, as she was sinless.   The Hail Mary is a prayer addressed to her, and praying it, she would be praying to herself.  But in saying the Glory Be, she would be honoring the Holy Trinity.  

      Mary showed an acceptance of the Rosary at Lourdes, which would link to another appearance of hers, yet off in the future.   It would loom large in importance when she appeared in Portugal in 1917, near a place called Fatima.

      Mary's coming near Fatima, associates her in name to Fatima, the favorite daughter of Mohammad.  The timing of her appearances seems quite significant.  She manifested herself to the shepherd children on the 13th of the month.  A reason for this date can be found in the Book of Esther, where we read of the plight of the Jewish people, faced with extermination on the 13th of the month of Adar. Esther, the Queen of Jewish blood, saves her people in a way that draws some parallel to the message of Fatima.  

      This took place in Persia, a kingdom that in ancient times was inside present Iran.  In fact, Iran would come to be known in the West as Persia. The World Book Encyclopedia says the state religion of Iran is Islam, and about 98% of the Iranians belong to that religion. Now consider the situation of whether this present "Persia" is a threat to the Jewish people of today.

      World Affairs (May-June 2012) reported, "The only case today in which a UN member country is calling for the destruction of another member is Tehran’s repeated threats to obliterate Israel, and there is no reason to believe the Iranians don’t mean it. Official Iranian comments about Israel are continually genocidal in nature."

      The United with Israel site (July 2015), reported this, "In November 2014, Iranian General Mohammad Ali Jafari confirmed that, “The range of our missiles covers all of Israel today. That means the fall of the Zionist regime, which will certainly come soon.”   These certainly sound like the Jewish nation is under mortal threat.

      God knows all of this and certainly has foreseen all that's happening down through the ages of history to our times. It's not unreasonable to believe that the conversion of Mirat, pointed to our times And that this could be groundwork that God laid down in times past, for us to see today, to deal with the present problem unfolding in the Middle East and the world.

      If peace eventually does come between Islam and Judaism, something said near Fatima in 1917 argues in favor of Mary bringing it about.  During her appearances, Mary wanted the Rosary to be prayed daily to obtain peace.  She said "only she can help you."

      We cannot rely on military arms alone to protect our civilization, but we need human hands and hearts to pray, and human ears to listen.  Mary also said something else that we need to harken to: "Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended."

       When our Supreme Court injudiciously ruled on the unborn and on marriage outside God's design, for example, the Court did not act wisely nor decide in accordance with the law of our Creator.  America cannot expect the One Who's really Supreme, to endow the country with His blessings, if it acts against the Laws of Nature's God.  This nation has seriously transgressed His Law.

      One of our country's important documents says "all men are created equal," being endowed with certain unalienable Rights by their Creator.  To create, is defined to mean "to make from nothing."  Without our Creator, we're nothing: not even as much as a tiny grain of sand, nor a speck of dust.  The words in our Declaration of Independence should lead us to Declare our Dependence upon our Creator, and all that this means. 
                                
                                                                      --John Riedell
 

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