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GRAND DUKE NICHOLAS NICHOLAIEVITCH
The Russian Commander in Chief
(Photo from Underwood & Underwood)
Patriotism and Endurance
By Cardinal D. J. Mercier
Archbishop of Malines.
[Copyright by Burns & Oates, Ltd., London.]
Here is the celebrated Christmas pastoral letter of Cardinal Mercier, Archbishop of Malines. It is the first authentic translated copy of the document to be received in America. The letter has caused a worldwide sensation because of its bold appeal to the Belgian people. Its publication resulted in the detention of the Cardinal by the Germans in his palace and a consequent protest by the Pope and the whole Roman Catholic world. The first reports of the arrest of the Cardinal were denied by the German authorities. Subsequently an official report made to the Pope stated that 15,000 copies of the pastoral letter were seized in Malines and destroyed, the printer being fined; that the Cardinal was detained in his palace during Jan. 4; that he was prevented by German officers on Jan. 3 from presiding at a religious ceremony; that they subjected him to interrogations and demanded of him a retraction, which he refused to make.
Y Very Dear Brethren: I cannot tell you how instant and how present thought of you has been to me throughout the months of suffering and of mourning through which we have passed. I had to leave you abruptly on the 20th of August in order to fulfill my last duty toward the beloved and venerated Pope whom we have lost, and in order to discharge an obligation of the conscience from which I could not dispense myself, in the election of the successor of Pius X., the Pontiff who now directs the Church under the title, full of promise and of hope, of Benedict XV.
It was in Rome itself that I received the tidings-stroke after stroke of the partial destruction of the Cathedral Church of Louvain, next of the burning of the library and of the scientific installations of our great university and of the devastation of the city, and next of the wholesale shooting of citizens and tortures inflicted upon women and children and upon unarmed and undefended
And, while I was still under the shock
of these calamities, the telegraph brought us news of the bombardment of our beautiful metropolitan church, of the Church of Nôtre Dame au dela la Dyle, of the Episcopal Palace, and of a great part of our dear City of Malines.
Afar from my diocese, without means of communication with you, I was compelled to lock my grief within my own afflicted heart and to carry it, with the thought of you, which never left me, to the foot of the Crucifix.
I craved courage and light, and sought them in such thoughts as these: A disaster has visited the world, and our beloved little Belgium, a nation so faithful in the great mass of her population to God, so upright in her patriotism, so noble in her King and Government, is the first sufferer. She bleeds; her sons are stricken down within her fortresses and upon her fields, in defense of her rights and of her territory.
Soon there will not be one Belgian family not in mourning. Why all this sorrow, my God? Lord, Lord, hast Thou forsaken us? Then I looked upon the Crucifix. I looked upon Jesus, most