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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2010 2:42 pm    Post subject: Did priests bless armour or weapons?         Reply with quote

Was a soldier's armour, sword, shield, or any other equipment ever blessed by a priest, sprinkled with holy water, or any other such religious ritual? Are there documented instances of this happening?
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2010 3:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that the armoury in Graz has a few breastplates decorated with images of the crucification of Christ.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2010 8:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've seen quite a few of those, in the Zeughaus and elsewhere. I think it was a very common mid-16th century style of decoration for German and Austrian armour. Typically it has a standard form, where there will be Christ on the cross, and then a knight in armour (probably supposed to be the owner) kneeling beside it. I'll see if I can find some pictures...
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James Cunniffe




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Apr, 2010 9:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most wars or great battles back then were always some what half religious I"m sure holy water and priests were both plentiful
Though the pen is mightier than the sword,
the sword speaks louder and stronger at any given moment.


Last edited by James Cunniffe on Sat 10 Apr, 2010 7:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Apr, 2010 12:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are Islamic mail shirts with verses fron the koran stamped into the links.
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Zac Evans




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Apr, 2010 1:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've heard of, but not seen a 14th century helmet with a verse from one of the gospels scratched inside. In latin, Obviously, I believe it said: "and he walked through them, all the way". It's from when jesus was attacked and the mob tried to throw him off a cliff, but he just walked away and no-one could touch him. Sounds like the kind of thing one would want to identify with in battle.
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Sat 10 Apr, 2010 1:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
There are Islamic mail shirts with verses fron the koran stamped into the links.


Wow, I knew that they did that on the plate components on the abdomen/chest, but I didn't know that they did that with the links. Can you link to some pictures? I'd love to see some of this work, it must have been very intricate indeed!

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 10 Apr, 2010 5:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JE Sarge wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
There are Islamic mail shirts with verses fron the koran stamped into the links.


Wow, I knew that they did that on the plate components on the abdomen/chest, but I didn't know that they did that with the links. Can you link to some pictures? I'd love to see some of this work, it must have been very intricate indeed!


There's a shirt in the Higgins museum. Sorry, I don't have any pictures, though.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Apr, 2010 5:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JE Sarge wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
There are Islamic mail shirts with verses fron the koran stamped into the links.


Wow, I knew that they did that on the plate components on the abdomen/chest, but I didn't know that they did that with the links. Can you link to some pictures? I'd love to see some of this work, it must have been very intricate indeed!



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David Sutton




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Apr, 2010 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't forget that many swords carried Christian inscriptions and or symbols; inlaid or etched into the blade or hilt components. For example 'IN HOC SIGNO VINCAS', 'DEVS VULT', 'SVNT HIC ETIAM SVA PRAECVNA LAVDI'.

I don't think its taking to great a leap of the imagination to think that a knight may feel his sword was a 'blessed' weapon if it carried such an inscription, above and beyond any blessing he may receive from a chaplain before battle.

Especially if he was on crusade. I'm sure the symbolism of using a cruciform sword, inscribed with 'In this sign; conquer' (in hoc signo vincas) to smite the 'infidel' would not have escaped him. At the very least it may have acted to make his weapon a good luck charm. In battle good luck would often mean the difference between life and death.

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'To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing'

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Apr, 2010 1:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The blessing of weapons by priests was very common in Russia at least. it was even revived as a morale-boosting device during Word War II by the ostensibly atheistic Red Army!
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Blaz Berlec




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Apr, 2010 4:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Blessing of the arms (Waffensegen, or for sword Schwertweihe) was an important part of knighting ceremony (Schwertleite). First written ceremonies are (for the German lands) from 11. century, before that it was more of a secular ceremony. Prayers changed very little from then on.

Funny thing is that prayers for blessings of arms survived the medieval times, and were in their 16th century form a part of Pontificale Romanum (ceremonial book of Catholic church) until 2. Vatican Council in 1962, when they threw out a lot of old ceremonies. Included were the ceremonies for knighting (De Benedictione novi militis), blessisng of arms (De benedictione Armorum), sword (De benedictione Ensis) and battle banner (De benedictione vexilli bellici).


Pontificale Romanum - De Benedictione Novi Militis:

http://www.liturgialatina.org/pontificale/125.htm

There's very little translated material on internet. I have a book (in Slovene) which has all these rituals and their development (for German lands in more detail) described, and texts translated.





An example:

First part of Consecratio Ensis (Blessing of the Sword):

Quote:
Exaudi, quesumus, domine, preces nostras,
et hunc ensem, quo his famulus tuus N. se circumcingi desiderat,
maiestatis tue dextera benedicere dignare,
quatinus defensio atque protectio possit esse
aecclesiarum, viduarum, orphanorum
omniumque Deo servientium contra seritiam paganorum,
aliisque insidiantibus sit pavor, terror et formido.


My rough translation from Slovene, I'm sure somebody could do a better one directly from Latin:

Please hear, o Lord, our prayers,
and bless this sword which your servant N. wishes to wear,
with the right hand of your might,
so that he may defend and protect
churches, widows, orphans
and all that serve God from viciousness of pagans
and others that are threatening his life, let (him) be terror and fear.


This was an official ceremony of blessing of arms during knighting. Similar formulas were performed before the battle, or just to consecrate the newly bought weapon.

There were also very unofficial means of blessing the sword, from the various sword inscriptions and symbols to the magical formulas and spells of medieval grimoires. Superstition was very widespread, and an important part of medieval belief.


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Extant 15th century Milanese armour
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Blaz Berlec




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Apr, 2010 8:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And if you thing blessing of weapons and other knightly equipment is a strange behaviour of an era long past, take a look at this:

Motorcycle blessing in Mirna Pec, Slovenia:





There are only around 40.000 registered motorcycles in Slovenia, but around 9000 of them gathered in last year's biggest "motorcycle blessing" ceremonies in a small village Mirna Pec. This tradition is now 12. years old, priest there is biker himself, and he uses an altered form of ceremony for blessing of horses, which is also usual in rural places here. It's not the only such event here, but it's by far the biggest.

And yes, that's a regular Roman Catholic priest, not some strange sect.

Big Grin


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Gabriele A. Pini




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Apr, 2010 10:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the Catholic church there is a benediction pratically for everything, a tradition inerited by the Jews. You have only to consult the Benedictionale to verify them.

For the medieval times there wasn't a single book until the Council of Trento (XVI sec), but I'm sure that in the various pontifical (book of prayers used for mass, blessings, and so on) we can find all type of blessing for armours, weapons and soldiers.

Now the only trace I can find with a fast search is the "Mass for the times of War", obliviously asking the quick ending of the war itself and the protection for all people involved.
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Ryan Renfro




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Apr, 2010 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JE Sarge wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
There are Islamic mail shirts with verses fron the koran stamped into the links.


Wow, I knew that they did that on the plate components on the abdomen/chest, but I didn't know that they did that with the links. Can you link to some pictures? I'd love to see some of this work, it must have been very intricate indeed!


From the Royal Armouries in Leeds:



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Blaz Berlec




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Apr, 2010 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Links for the prayers from the Pontificale Romanum. It's early 20th century edition, but I think it's unchanged since 16th century.

PONTIFICALE ROMANUM

JUSSU EDITUM A BENEDICTO XIV ET LEONE XIII RECOGNITUM ET CASTIGATUM

De Benedictione Armorum: http://www.liturgialatina.org/pontificale/081.htm
De Benedictione Ensis: http://www.liturgialatina.org/pontificale/082.htm
De Benedictione et Traditionis Vexilli bellici: http://www.liturgialatina.org/pontificale/083.htm
De Benedictione novi Militis: http://www.liturgialatina.org/pontificale/125.htm

This Slovene book ( Tomaž Nabergoj, Oboroženi stan srednjeveške družbe na slovenskem na osnovi materialnih virov. Primer: Meči, 2001) mostly quotes this work in German from 1909 for all the details about prayers and blessings, and their development throughout middle ages:


Franz, Adolph
Die kirchlichen Benediktionen im Mittelalter

http://www.buchhandel.de/detailansicht.aspx?i...36741-04-9


Extant 15th Century German Gothic Armour
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