Chesterton on the Crusades, Sort of

I can only say that I am not much of a crusader, but at least I am not a Mohammedan.

Well, I don’t think anyone would get away with saying something like that today. G.K. was so warmly welcomed by the students of Holy Cross College, because, as was said, he was one of the “foremost Cruaders in the modern world of letters,” meaning he was not a skeptic and was willing to defend his position; meaning he was also a Catholic and willing to defend his position.

In accepting the honor, Chesterton was typically self-deprecating. This is especially edifying, considering that he was to receive, posthumously, from Pius XI the title “Defender of the Faith,” a title once granted by Leo X to Henry VIII for his defense of the Catholic faith against the Protestant heresy.

The selection of the Crusader as the mascot of Holy Cross college, back in 1925, had seems to have been more or less unrelated to the themes of this blog:

Holy Cross’s athletic teams for both men and women are known as the Crusaders. It is reported that the name “Crusader” was first associated with Holy Cross in 1884 at an alumni banquet in Boston, where an engraved Crusader mounted on an armored horse appeared at the head of the menu.

The name was rediscovered by Stanley Woodward, a sports reporter for the Boston Herald, when he used the term “Crusader” to describe the Holy Cross baseball team in a story written in 1925. The name appealed to the Holy Cross student body, which held a vote later in that year to decide whether this cognomen or one of the other two currently in use – “Chiefs” and “Sagamores”- would be adopted. On October 6, 1925, The Tomahawk, an earlier name of the student newspaper, reported that the results of the ballot were: Crusaders 143, Chiefs 17, Sagamores.

However, the connection between the history of the Crusaders and Mr. Gilbert Keith Chesterton, did not go unnoticed by the students of Holy Cross. I wonder what would be said about this crusading business today on the campus of the average Catholic university or college. Well, for example . . . or how about this?

Unfortunately, it might not be until our Catholic universities are operated under sharia law that we will have more admiration for the simple honesty and humility of the Chestertonian response.

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