Source: Wikimedia Commons Today in history, on June 3, 1098, one of Christendom’s greatest victories over the jihad took place: the liberation of the ancient Christian city of Antioch—where the very word “Christian” was first coined (Acts 11:26)—from under the yoke of Islam.
Context: In the years following the Battle of Manzikert (1071), which saw the Seljuk Turks defeat the Eastern Roman Empire and conquer that ancient bastion of Christianity, Anatolia (modern day Turkey), immense persecutions of Christians followed. Whether an anonymous Georgian chronicler tells of how “holy churches served as stables for their horses,” the “priests were immolated during the Holy Communion itself,” the “virgins defiled, the youths circumcised, and the infants taken away,” or whether Anna Comnena, the princess at Constantinople, tells of how “cities were obliterated, lands were plundered, and the whole of Anatolia was stained with Christian blood”—it was the same scandalous tale of woe.
Enter the First Crusade. To quote historian Thomas Madden, paraphrasing Pope Urban II’s famous call at Clermont in 1095, “The message was clear: Christ was crucified again in the persecution of his faithful and the defilement of his sanctuaries.” Both needed rescuing; both offered an opportunity to fulfill one of Christ’s two greatest commandments: “Love God with all your heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Christians from all around Europe, under the leadership of the Franks, hearkened to the call and took the cross. After a long and arduous journey into Turkic-controlled Asia Minor—which saw the crusaders meet and defeat their Muslim foes in at least two encounters—by October 1097, the Europeans were at and besieging the walls of Antioch.
For long, Antioch had resisted Islam; even when “all the East was shaken and the successors of Muhammad were subjugating by force entire provinces to their impious superstition and perverse dogma,” […]
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