Today being Veteran’s Day and also appropriately the feast of Martin of Tours I give a warm thanks to my fellow Veterans past and present.
"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." G.K. Chesterton
Sen. John Kerry also released a Veteran’s Day Message and I was glad it was written in crayon and block letters so that we could easily understand it.
Being ex-military and someone who loves the Carmelites I always liked this story.
GEORGES THIERRY D’ARGENLIEU (LOUIS OF THE TRINITY OCD)
Georges Thierry d’Argenlieu was born in 1889. At the age of 17 he graduated from the Ecole Navale. During World War I he received the Legion of Honour for his part in the Moroccan campaign. He left the navy in 1920 and became a Carmelite at the age of 31. At the time of the French mobilisation in 1939 he was Provincial of the Paris Province. He took off his habit and resumed the uniform of a naval commander. He was captured by the Germans in June 1940, at Cherbourg. Three days later he leapt from a moving convoy train en route to Germany. He then commandeered a fishing boat and sailed it to Jersey. A few days later he reached London and presented himself to the Carmelite Priory in Kensington, and in what must be that hospitable community’s only lapse, he was turned away. When his identity was confirmed, he used to visit during his time in London, to share fraternal life. In London he worked closely with General de Gaulle.
He was commissioned to gather the remnants of the French navy and regain French colonial Africa for the Free French forces. In late 1940, while attempting to negotiate with Vichy regime in Dakar, he was seriously wounded. Six weeks later, needing crutches to stand, he directed the assaults on Gabon, Port Gentil and Libreville. In 1941 he was appointed to a similar mission in the Pacific. When his ship reached Brisbane he visited Auchenflower Carmel to see the French Prioress, Mother Mary Raphael, who held him in high regard as a friar and as a patriot. Perhaps it was this visit that stimulated Mother Raphael to seek a foundation of Carmelite friars for Australia. Admiral d’Argenlieu meanwhile gained New Caledonia for the Free French and made it his headquarters. During this time he arrested and imprisoned a number of Marist Missionaries who were Vichy supporters. It is for this that the Marists in Australia and the Pacific remember him!
After further diplomatic work for the Free French he returned to London in 1943. He was appointed commander of the French naval forces in Britain and played a role in planning the Normandy invasion. At the liberation of Paris he walked beside Generals de Gaulle and Leclerc in the great victory parade to the thanksgiving Te Deum in Notre Dame. After the war he was Governor General of Indo-China until 1947, when he asked to return to his monastery. On his retirement, he was given a number of awards including the Grand Cross of the legion of Honour and being invested as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. He then removed his admiral’s uniform and resumed his Carmelite habit and lived a humble and quiet life of prayer. Because of his closeness to de Gaulle he wanted to avoid having his ministry politicised. He therefore seldom preached in public, preferring instead to lead ‘enclosed’ retreats for groups such as priests and nuns. He died at the priory of Avon in 1964.
Now that’s what I call a real warrior monk 🙂
Gives a new meaning to such terms as “Soldier of Christ” and “Church Militant,” too n.n
Why could he leave his Carmelite habit behind to go to war? I don’t understand…
But the story is pretty amazing.
Great post Chief. If you want another example of a warrior monk read this article about my Patron Saint. The Saint is John of Capistrano.