The Idea of Marian Chivalry


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Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic and generous actions and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world.
(Kenelm Henry Digby, Maxims of Christian Chivalry)

Here we have succinct but essential definition of an institution that is often poorly understood. Today chivalry can mean anything from mere external manners to adulterous romance. Some revivalists conjure up a completely pagan version, ignoring or redefining the Christian virtues that made chivalry great: fidelity, honesty, courtesy, prowess and generosity.

Imagine one arguing that fidelity is based on faith, but that faith does not necessarily have any relation to God. Such is the present state of affairs.

According to the definition given above, chivalry keeps men “conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world.” From a Christian perspective nothing is more beautiful and sublime than the sacrificial love of Christ for his Church, and the Church’s obedient love for Christ.

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The Holy Rood is a great and cosmic icon of the highest ideals that can be held by men: the Crucified flanked by His Most Holy Mother and the Beloved Disciple. St. John is witness to and participant in the true and pure “courtly love” of Jesus and Mary, Christ and the Church, King and Queen, Child and Mother.

It is at the foot of the Cross, in the place of the Beloved Disciple and in the company of Our Lady that men will again become conversant with all that is “beautiful and sublime.” To carry one’s cross is the greatest of all “heroic and generous actions.”

In imitation of Christ Himself, the great King and most honorable Knight, men will find their honor in the honor of the most noble of women, the Virgin Mother and Queen of angels and of men. This is Marian Chivalry.



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