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Eucharistic Crusade (Roman Catholic Church)

Eucharistische Kruistocht - Croisade Eucharistique

Last modified: 2010-12-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: eucharistic crusade | eucharistische kruistocht | croisade eucharistique | poppe (edward) |
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Presentation of the Eucharistic Crusade

On 8 August 1910, Pope Pius X issued the Quam singulari Encyclical, subtitled "Decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Discipline of the Sacraments on First Communion", calling the children to an early eucharistic communion. In late August 1914, Marthe Martin wrote in Auray (Britanny, France) her Appel aux enfants (Call to the children), a patriotic call to the Breton children, subsequently transformed in a monthly newsletter. In the same time, the religious teacher Geneviève Boselli organized a material and spiritual support service for the soldiers fighting on the front, nicknamed Apostolat de la cigarette ("Cigarette apostolate").

On 13 November 1915, the Jesuit Father Albert Bessières, founder of the Eucharistic Leagues in 1910, proposed a new crusade to 28 children at Bordeaux, France. The Croisade des enfants (Childrens' Crusade), subsequently renamed Croisade eucharistique (Eucharistic Crusade), was approved by the Archbishop of Bordeaux in 1916. Approved and blessed six times by Pope Benedict XV, who granted it a solemn audience on 29 March 1921, the Crusade was encouraged worldwide by more than 400 cardinals, bishops and archbishops. Led by Father Bessières until 1925, the movement had in 1928 more than 1.5 million members in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Syria and Mexico and in the Catholic missions of China, India, Madagascar, Egypt, Guyana...

In 1960, the 50th anniversary of Pius X's Encyclical was celebrated in Rome by 3,500 delegates of the Crusade, who were blessed by Pope John XXIII. Two years later, the Assembly of the French Cardinals and Archbishops approved the renaming of the movement to Mouvement eucharistique des jeunes (MEJ, Youth Eucharistic Movement. On 5 November 1987, the 25th anniversary of MEJ was celebrated in Rome by 450 members, who were granted a private audience by Pope John Paul II.
In 1987, the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX, founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre) set up its own Croisade eucharistique des enfants (Childrens' Eucharistic Crusade).


Ivan Sache, 13 April 2009

Flags of the Eucharistic Crusade in Flanders (Belgium)

In Flanders, the Eucharistic Crusade (Eucharistische Kruistocht) was managed by the Abbey of Averbode (today in the municipality of Scherpenheuvel-Zichem, Flemish Brabant). Edward Poppe (1890-1924, blessed in 1999), a parish priest who lived in poverty, was the main promoter of the Crusade, as the editor of the journal Zonneland, whose membership peaked in the 1930s to 200,000. Due to his very weak health, Poppe mostly wrote from his bed at the Moerzeke monastery.

The banner (or a banner derived from a common template credited to Edward Poppe) is shown on two black and white photos available on a blog dedicated to Tildonk (a former municipality, today part of Haacht), contribution dated 12 July 2008.
The photos show two groups of young crusaders, together with their priests and school teachers. The banner is square with in the middle a chalice and a host, flanked by the letters "E" and "K". The upper stripe of the banner bears the writing "EUCHARISTICHE" while the lower stripe bears "... DONCK", most probably "THILDONCK". The four corners of the banner are made of a white (or light-coloured) square charged with a "M" monogram. "EK" stands for "Eucharistische Kruistocht".
Other elements of the flag not visible on the photo can be guessed by comparison with the French banners described below.

Ivan Sache, 13 April 2009

Flags of the Eucharistic Crusade in Brittany (France)

The St. Martin parish church of Betton (10 km north of Rennes) keeps a banner of the Eucharistic Crusade. The flag is square (75 cm x 75 cm), verticaly divided blue-white.
The obverse of the flag bears the emblem of the Crusade, similar in design to the Flemish emblem. The emblem is made of a white cross charged with the chalice bearing the Jesuit monogram "IHS" and flanked by the letters "E" and "C", for "Croisade Eucharistique". The cross is included into a red ring bearing the golden motto "ECCE PANIS ANGELORUM" ("Lo! bread of the Angels broken"), part of the Lauda Sion Salvatorem sequence written by St. Thomas of Aquino for the mass of Corpus Christi. The last stanza of the sequence starting with Ecce panis angelorum are oftren used separately, especially during the Eucharist.
"CROISADE EUCHARISTIQUE" is written in golden letters placed in an arched pattern above the emblem.
The reverse of the flag bears the crowned municipal arms of Betton. "PAROISSE DE BETTON" is written in golden letters placed in an arhced pattern under the emblem.
GASO gives the arms of Betton as D'or à la croix potencée alésée de sable, cantonnée de quatre mouchetures d'hermine du même (Or a cross potency couped sable cantonned with four ermines of the same). On the flag, the field of the arms seems to be white instead of yellow.

The St. Melaine parish church of La Chapelle-de-Brain (near Redon) keeps a similar flag from the same period. The flag is square (71 cm x 71 cm), vertically divided blue-white.
The obverse of the flag is similar ot the obverse of the Betton flag, described above. The writing is "CROISADE EUCHARISTIQUE" (above the emblem) / "LA CHAPELLE St MELAINE" (under the emblem).
The reverse of the flag bears the same emblem, but with the Sacred Heart of Jesus instead of the chalice, and the letters "A" and "O" instead of "E" and "C". They stand for "APOSTOLAT DE LA PRIÈRE", written above the emblem. On the red ring, the motto "ECCE PANIS ANGELORUM" is replaced by "ADVENIAT REGNUM TUUM" ("Thy / Your kingdom come", a verse of the Pater Noster).
Apostolat de la Prière is a movement founded in 1844 at Vals, near Le Puy, by the Jesuit father François-Xavier Gautrelet and approved in 1849 by Pope Pius IX. The movement is still active in more than 70 countries.

The St. Méloir parish church of Saint-Méloir-des-Ondes (near Cancale) keeps a very similar flag, with the same emblems and writings, "ST MÉLOIR DES ONDES" replacing "LA CHAPELLE St MELAINE".

Ivan Sache, 13 April 2009