Robert Shaffern

Robert W. Shaffern is a Professor of Medieval History at the University of Scranton and the author of The Penitents’ Treasury: Indulgences in Latin Christendom, 1175-1375.

recent articles

A Case for American Monarchy

The most powerful attraction of monarchy today is leadership above politics, which is something that a critical mass of the body politic can rally around.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: Medieval Psychologist

Modern popular culture prizes the role of the therapist, whose services, we are assured, can aid a troubled marriage, heal an addicted psyche or get an unruly (almost always male) child to behave better. The saint whose feast-day falls on August 20 was the greatest Christian psychologist of the Middle Ages. In St Bernard of … Read more

John Gerard, Elizabethan Jesuit Missionary

The life of John Gerard, an English Catholic and Jesuit missionary priest, well illustrates what is at stake when the power of the state is enlisted against the Catholic faith and church. The persecutions of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I meant that the English government hunted down John Gerard as though he were … Read more

Firm Under Persecution: St. Cuthbert Mayne

Today’s Catholics, whose religious liberties—to say nothing of their lives—are under threat from antagonistic secularist and Islamic governments have a courageous compatriot in the Elizabethan priest-martyr Cuthbert Mayne (1544-1570), whose feast day is November 29. When Mayne was born, King Henry VIII, who had broken England’s communion with the Holy Father in 1535. His son … Read more

He Chose to Die for Christ: Saint Eulogius

Often buried within the international section of American national newspapers may be found accounts of Muslim vandalism against Christian churches, so say nothing of Muslim attacks on the Christians of the Middle East. Just last week a Muslim mob badly damaged a Coptic Christian church outside Cairo; local police merely watched. No prosecution of this … Read more

The Last Ancient Patriarch of Jerusalem: Saint Sophronius

Heavy-hearted, Sophronius, the patriarch of Jerusalem, set out to meet the Caliph, the successor to the Muslim prophet Muhammad, at the gates of the Holy City. The surrender had already been negotiated, after a siege that had lasted four months. Sophronius, patriarch of the city since 634, had decided that the city must be surrendered. … Read more

Louis IX and the Great Crusade

For most historically aware folks living in the Western nations, the date of June 6 recalls the undertaking of the invasion of France, the initiation of the Anglo-American campaign to liberate France from German Nazi occupation, an effort General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the “Great Crusade.” Another Great Crusade took place on another June 6, … Read more

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