JUNE 1, 1459

Our brethren and our sons, we hoped on arriving at this city [Mantua] to find that a throng of royal ambassadors had preceded us. We see that only a few are here. We have been mistaken. Christians are not so concerned about religion as we believed. We fixed the day for the Congress very far ahead. No one can say the time was too short; no one can plead the difficulties of travel. We who are old and ill have defied the Apennines and winter. Not even mother Rome could delay us, although, beset as she is with brigands, she sorely needed our presence. Not without danger we left the patrimony of the Church to come to the rescue of the Catholic faith which the Turks are doing their utmost to destroy. We saw their power increasing every day, their armies, which had already occupied Greece and Illyricum, overrunning Hungary, and the loyal Hungarians suffering many disasters. We feared (and this will surely happen if we do not take care) that once the Hungarians were conquered, the Germans, Italians, and indeed all Europe would be subdued, a calamity that must bring with it the destruction of our Faith. We took thought to avert this evil; we called a Congress in this place; we summoned princes and peoples that we might together take counsel to defend Christendom. We came full of hope and we grieve to find it in vain. We are ashamed that Christians are so indifferent. Some are given over to luxury and pleasure; others are kept away by avarice. The Turks do not hesitate to die for their most vile faith, but we cannot incur the least expense nor endure the smallest hardship for the sake of Christ's gospel. If we continue thus, it will be all over with us. We shall soon perish unless we can summon up a different spirit. Therefore we urge you, who are holy men, to pray God without ceasing that He may change the temper of the Christian kings, rouse the spirit of His people, and kindle the hearts of the faithful, so that now at least we may take arms and avenge the wrongs which the Turks day after day are inflicting on our religion. Up, brethren! Up, sons! Turn to God with all your hearts. Watch and pray; atone for your sins by fasting and giving alms; bring forth works meet for repentance; for thus God will be appeased and have mercy on us, and if we show ourselves brave, He will deliver our enemies into our hands. We shall remain here till we have learned the disposition of the princes. If they intend to come, we will together take counsel for our state. If not, we must go home again and endure the lot God has given us. But so long as life and strength last we shall never abandon the purpose of defending our religion nor shall we think it hard, if need be, to risk our life for our sheep.


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