The Ark of Apocalypse

 

CHAPTER NINE

March to Paris

In the morning, Father Merlin was up before the sun as he prepared the table for the Mass.  The rays fired through the windows and glistened on the Holy Grail, reflecting back into Father Merlin’s face, as if proclaiming a new dawn indeed, one that would see the true people of God rise up at last to doff the chains of evil with which the modern world had fettered them for so long.  Now, the Chosen One was revealed, and he had taken up his cudgel.  Today, as last, he would begin to employ that cudgel in the defense of God’s own Truth. Today, at last, the battle would be joined.  At last, today, hope would be restored to the hearts of honest men the world round.

. He prepared the table for the Mass, placing the Holy Grail to one side, but without removing it from the box. He woke Simon, who in turn woke all who had been able to sleep. He entered Philip’s room last. Simon and three other Knights carried the table outside, with the Grail still on top. Merlin said Mass as the sun rose gloriously over the mountains. Before it was over, every Knight had received the Body and Blood of Our Lord and they were in prayer when Philip spoke:

“Why don’t we walk to Paris?  With the Holy Grail and the armed Knights we would let people know we are here and that the Holy Father wants us to save France.  We must build an army of followers before we arrive in Paris.  I’m not sure what I am doing but I have to start somewhere.  We need Our Lady’s help. At Fatima, she asked that we say Her Rosary for peace. It is peace we seek, even at the cost of our lives, for peace is not going to be easy now. Maybe peace will be won by force, so let us always begin our days with Her Sword, the Rosary. Let us pray. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! I believe in God, the Father Almighty…”

When the prayers were finished, the Holy Grail was placed on an old two wheel cart and pulled by two asses. Philip, Simon, Merlin, and Jonathan went ahead of the cart. The rest of the Knights followed behind. The three choppers went out ahead to scan the roads ahead of them. They marched all day, and, as they marched, crowds gathered to marvel at the spectacle, mostly in silence, but some jeered.

“Who are these nuts?” or “What is this, the thirteenth century? Are we going back to the middle ages?” Philip and his small army paid no attention, but kept on marching. No one bothered them physically, since the Knights were well armed. But most must have thought they were a bunch of crazy people.

They passed through Montpellier without a incident. In Nimes many people asked where they were going. When they were told that Philip was declared King of France, some joined in on the march, but not many. By the time they reached Avignon there were over five hundred armed French police, who had no jobs, and over five hundred Frenchmen. Philip asked if they could stop and enter the Palais des Papes, for this had been the home of many Popes. Palais des Papes was an extravagant medieval fortress and cathedral, built of white stone. “This pile of white stones grieves me.” Jonathan said as they stared up at the former home of many Pontiffs. “Ever since the Holy Father stood in silence at the slaughter of the Templers in 1307, the Church has been without an army and at the mercy of many kings. Only three years after the Templers were formally dismantled, the Holy Father was forced to leave Rome. That would not have happened had we still been openly around.

“The popes lived seventy years in this place. The hundred year war between France and England would not have happened. I believe that and the so-called “Golden Bull” written by Charles IV (supposedly eliminating papal rights in the election of emperors), brought on the Black Death.”
Jonathan continued looking up at the cathedral as he spoke. “Saint Joan of Arc would have had our help, and Constantinople would have been protected. Now, after almost seven hundred years, we are back.”

They walked through the castle walls towards the cathedral and up the stairs to the large doors. The doors were closed but not locked. Simon pushed them open, and Philip walked in with all the Knights and Frenchmen following behind him. Philip worried about violence and he wanted to pray that he could bring peace to France without anyone dying.

Philip stopped just inside the doors. All around the church could be heard laughter and screams. When his eyes focused themselves to the change in the light, he could see that all over the beautiful church were men and women having a wild party. Against one of the pillars were two men kissing. In the pews were many couples engaging in all kinds of sexual acts. Philip could see the pulpit and a man chained to it with no clothes on. Another man with a whip was commanding him to preach. On the altar were two young women dancing without clothes on. The Tabernacle was open, and they were dancing obscenely before it.

An anger welled up in Philip that he did not know he had.  He turned to Jonathan and Simon. “Give me your weapon, Jonathan. The time for talk is over.”

Jonathan handed him a strange gun. “Do you know how to use it?”

“No!” He replied as he fumbled with it. It was strange with two large springs on both sides of two barrels and no hammer.

“Pull back this safety latch. Hold here tight with your left hand and pull the trigger with your right. Be careful where you point it. It will blow a hole in a brick wall.” Jonathan stepped way back.

Philip pulled off a short burst of shells, and he almost lost control as he went from the floor to the dome and almost over his head. This was not because of the gun, as it had no kick but just from the sudden noise and power coming from his hands.  He gained his composure and pointed the weapon level again as the laughter stopped and everyone turned to face the crowd of men at the door in white and red.

Philip started walking down the main aisle. He looked at the two necked men at the pillar. At first they looked at him with fear, but then started to giggle. They should not have giggled. Philip, angry, turned his gun towards them without thinking and opened fire. He blew the men off the pillar and clean across the floor, as blood splashed ten feet up the white walls.  What ever was in this gun was very powerful. 

Philip lost control and he turned to the pews and started mowing down naked men and women everywhere. The shells were powerful and because of flat tipped bullets the bodies were thrown over three and four pews. He kept walking towards the altar with his finger hard on the trigger. When he ran out of shells, Gaddis threw him another machine gun, and he kept on shooting.

Eleazar and Josue stood at the side doors and let no one out. When Philip reached the foot of the altar, there were only four left alive. The two naked girls on the altar, hugging each other in fear, the man with a whip, and the man chained to the pulpit. Philip stared at the two girls with fearful hatred in his eyes.

He remembered how during the French Revolution the “Goddess of Reason”, a prostitute, was declared the official icon of the government, and she danced naked on the main altar of Notre Dame. These two girls were mocking the open tabernacle of Our Lord.

Philip could see into the tabernacle and saw that the Chalice of Hosts was there exposed to this mocking.  Quickly, without thinking, he raised his weapon and blew the two girls off the altar. He continued shooting at them until they were blown completely across the slick floor to the back wall. He shot so many holes in them that you could not recognize whether they were women, men or animals. He was out of bullets again, and Jonathan handed him another weapon.  Philip, trembling with anger, looked at the chained man. “Who are you?”

“The Cardinal, I am the Cardinal, Cardinal John St. Mary?” The good priest was afraid that the angry man with the gun would shoot him also.

“And you?” He turned his weapon into the face of the man holding the whip. “I think we need a sermon.” Still trembling, Philip placed the tip of the weapon against the man’s lower lip. He waited for the sermon as he looked at the Demonic Symbols on his robe. The man made the mistake of giving a slight nervous smile.  Philip pulled the trigger or maybe his shaking hand pulled the trigger.  Anyway he blew the man’s head completely off.

Philip handed the gun to Jonathan. Simon unchained the Cardinal. Philip walked up to the altar and bowed before the tabernacle. He looked inside and saw that the Lord was still inside. He looked around for Father Merlin. Merlin hurried up the steps, closed the tabernacle and lit the candle.

Turning away from the tabernacle, Philip looked around the church. Blood and bodies were verywhere. The new army took up the entire center aisle, which was hundreds of feet long and twenty feet wide. Frenchmen lined the back of the church and took on a great fear of this new King.

Philip thought to himself that he had just committed a great sin and needed confession but at the same time he though, “This irreverence has been building up to this for a long time and has to stop somewhere, the inevitable result of a lack of respect for priests, the Mass, and all authority. No Fear of God! We’ll see!”

He shouted at the Knights in the aisle, “No Longer! No longer shall My Lord and My God and My Church be mocked.” Raising both hands above his head he continued, “Are you with me?”

“Where you go, we go to the ends of the earth,” Shouted Jonathan. And all the Knights raised their hands and shouted: “To the ends of the earth.”

“Father Merlin, would you help the Cardinal dress and ask him to offer a mass of thanksgiving for us?” Philip knew that Father Merlin was not happy about his actions and was somewhat frightened so he gently put his hand on Merlin’s shoulder to show that he was calm now and the anger gone.

“Yes! I will take care of the good Cardinal.  Then I will hear your confession.  You cannot go against God’s commandments even as King.”

Maybe Philip sinned and maybe not.  Only God knows, but from that moment on no one disrespected the Body and Blood of Christ or any priest. What Philip did in this church spread throughout the world and in spite of his gentleness a respectful fear of him continued to the end of his days.

After his confession and the Mass, Philip sat in the first pew with the Cardinal. “Your Eminence. I am Emperor Philip von Habsburg. I have a letter here from His Holiness …”

“You! You are the King? You are the one! My God! I didn’t really believe it.” The Cardinal put his face in his hands and said a prayer and then said: “I received a letter from the new Pope. He told us of you and sent us a copy of the Papal Bull declaring you Emperor. I was in Mintz when he left Rome. I never believed he would survive.

“When he said he would return to Rome, I knew he wouldn’t, and then this letter. I did not believe it. I’m so sorry. My faith is very small.” The Cardinal lowered his head in shame.

Philip put his arm around the Cardinal: “Never mind, Your Eminence, I have very little time. How can I best speak to the people of this town?”

“The Television station was bombed, but one of the radio stations is still working. It has been taken over by street gangs. The good people hid in their homes but they listen to find out what is going on.”

“Jonathan, the good Cardinal will show you how to find a radio station. Take it over and start broadcasting that there will be an important address soon. Make a lot of commotion as you go there, so that the whole town will be listening. I will follow soon with the Holy Grail. Simon will stay with me.”

Inside the radio station everything was quiet, except the soft voice of Jonathan over the mike, speaking to the people of Avignon. The rebels put up no fight at all. For although they had weapons and there were a great many of them, they had no ammunition. They had run out a long time ago, but no one knew it.

“I’ll take over from here.” Philip said as he entered the radio station. He took the mike in his hand and looked over at Simon and the Box. 

“My fellow citizens of Avignon, I am Philip von Habsburg. Recently, the Holy Father returned to Rome. He has asked me to become King of France in order to bring back order to this beloved country. I shall do just that. But I need your help. I am marching towards Paris. All you who are able, I am asking you to walk with me. If you have a gun, or a knife, or a pitchfork, or a club, bring it, for we are not walking in peace.

“I carry with me the Holy Grail of Our Lord, the Chalice that Christ used at the last Supper. It is half full of the Real Blood of Our Lord. It is the power that was in the Ark of the Covenant. Its power is with us now. Meet me at the steps of the Palais des Papes and see it and receive its blessing.”

As Philip marched back to the Palis des Papaes with his army, the crowds began to gather and to follow him. They grew so large that it became harder and harder to navigate through them. At the steps of the Palais, two Knights set up the Box on a table. The Cardinal moved a mike out to the edge of the steps. Philip looked down at the crowd. It had grown to a half million men, women, and children. The Cardinal stepped before the mike. Everyone became silent.

“My Children! I received a letter from the Holy Father. It is true what Philip said. He is King of France and the Holy Roman Empire. Long live the King. His Holiness has stated that whoever obeys him, obeys the Church, and whoever disobeys him disobeys the Church. Whoever dies in his service shall not suffer Hell or Purgatory. But whosoever shall go against him shall be anathema, and burn in Hell forever. These are the words of the Holy Father.

“May I present to you, Philip von Habsburg, the King of France.”

The crowd was totally silent. There was no applause, no laughter, no murmuring, nothing. Philip stepped up to the mike.

“Citizens of France, armed with the command of the Holy Father, I shall march to Paris and take command of this chaos and bring peace back to this land. Josue marched into the Promised Land and won every battle because he had the help of God. He had the power of the Ark of the Covenant. But we have more than the Ark. The Ark received its power from the promise that was inside. However, we have the fulfillment of that promise. We have the real thing, the real Blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant. We have the Holy Grail. Not an empty Grail that held the promise as Josue had, but the Holy Grail that contains the real Blood of Christ. Who shall overcome us?”

Merlin opened the box and pulled out the Chalice and held it over his head so that everyone could see. The sun glistened against the golden handles. The brown colored glass sparkled and the sun shot through it spewing rays of light across the crowd. The crowd was awe struck and made sounds almost like pain but more like fear, and then a deafening silence. Merlin placed it back on the table for people to come forward and look closer.

After time for reflection, Philip addressed the people again, “If you are with us, follow me.” Philip leaped down the steps to the cart. Simon carried the Box down the steps and laid it gently on the cart. Philip raised his fist, “Pick up your cross, your gun, your sword, beat your plowshares into swords, and follow the Lord. Follow the Grail.”

Philip and Merlin went first. The cart and Simon followed, then the Knights and all behind them began to walk with thousands and thousands of men with guns, shovels, and clubs right behind them. Even women and children followed with food and drink for the trip. The line of people went down the streets for tens of miles. On they went until they marched under the triumphant arch of the city of Orange, where thousands more joined them.

They marched on towards Lyon. Lyon, the second largest city of France, was largely untouched by the wars. Very few buildings were destroyed. From a distance, all looked peaceful. What surprised Philip, but at first he could not put his finger on why, was how quiet this normally bustling city was. When they reached the outskirts of the city, it became apparent that no cars, buses, trucks, or anything was moving. People were in the streets, but they were all walking or riding bikes. It finally dawned on Philip that there was no gas. Fuel was always imported, but that had all stopped years ago. It was like the Eighteenth Century.

Lyon was the seat of his family, and at the word of his return to power, thousands more joined his march to Paris. They moved on, and deliberately went out of the way to Vezelay. By now they had grown to millions.

Perched high atop a hill overlooking a lush valley was the famous Twelfth Century Basilica de la Madeleine, considered the finest Romanesque structure in all of France. At the gate to Madeleine, Philip was greeted by six monks, who (not knowing better) all bowed down at the sight of their King.  Philip, Merlin, Simon, and the twelve Knights went inside. The army of peasants, police, and children camped out on the grassy terrace behind the Basilica.

Inside, Merlin said Mass for the small group. Outside the Cardinal held Mass on the top of the terrace. The twenty monks of the Basilica helped him with the communion. As the sun set the crowd made small fires and set up camp for the night. Three black choppers moved around the sky checking for trouble in all directions.

Philip and Merlin walked around the Promenade des Ramparts as the sun set over the beautiful meadows below. As they walked, Merlin explained to Philip that the tomb of St. Madeleine was hidden below the altar of the Basilica. Philip would see it later. They climbed the long and ancient stairway to the top of the tower of the Basilica and looked out over the Morvan countryside.

Philip looked down at the millions of Frenchmen who had followed him this far, “Look at all those people who have placed their trust in me. I don’t even know what I’m going to do next. I don’t even know why I’m going to Paris.” He said in consternation.

“Philip! Don’t forget who you are and who you are representing! They are not following you. They are following a dream, a dream that all this war will be over. But they know it won’t end by itself. They know that they have to stop it with action. They also know that God sent you and that this is their last hope.” Merlin looked down at the fires dotting the grassy terrace. “I realize that you probably know this, but this terrace was the starting point of two Crusades.”

Philip looked down at the crowd. “It must have been a lot like this.” He answered. “A few well armed knights with their white robes and red crosses, and a crowd of untrained Catholics, out to do the will of the Holy Father. The reasons are almost the same. If they had not gone out to fight, the Moslems would have eventually run over all of Europe and the Church would have been wiped out.” Then something dawned on him.

“Father, the last battle of the crusades was a sea battle led by Don Juan.”

“Yes! He was one of your relatives.”

“I know! My father talked about him many times, but he always insisted that Mary won that battle. Don Juan had a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe hung in his cabin on his ship. He had all the soldiers of all the ships pray the Rosary, then and only then did he put on his sword. He was outnumbered ten to one, but he was victorious. And according to my father the ‘people power’ of the Philippines, who took back their country from Marcos, was really ‘Rosary Power’, since Cardinal Sin had a Rosary crusade going on for three years prior to the victory.”

Philip looked down at the crowd. They were not trying to sleep. They were talking and singing. “Idle talk, idle time. Father, help me. I need a mike and speakers.” They went down the stairs and solicited the help of the Cardinal. The monks brought out the mike and set it up on the top of the terrace.

Merlin spoke to the army first. “Crusaders of Christ, kneel down for my blessing.” After the crowd moved to their knees, the father blessed them all, using holy water. “We have a job to do for Our Lord, and we need help. And so, we will solicit the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I hereby consecrate this Army of Our Lord to the Immaculate Heart of His Mother. I ask that she place her maternal mantle of protection around us and illuminate our ways. I ask that her merciful eyes light our ways. I ask that the victory she promised at Fatima begins here with us.

“Your King has asked that we pray the Rosary at the end of every day and at the beginning of any battle we have. He has asked that as we walk, we pray the Rosary. If and as we fight we pray the Rosary. If we do this, she will not leave us unaided against the Red Dragon. Philip has asked to lead us in prayer.”

Philip knelt down facing the army. “Let us pray. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…..”

The next morning as the sun broke over the mountains, the people’s army was already on its way to Paris. There were over a hundred miles to go. Word of their march was spreading rapidly throughout the entire world with mixed feelings.