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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

Then Urban raised on high the fire bathed cross


"God

wills it!" From Richard's lips it had sprung, all unbidden. Godfrey had caught it--Hildebrand's battle-cry. And as if the shout had reached high heaven, that instant the dun clouds parted. The sun streamed on naked swords and tossing lances innumerable; the flashing of the brightness was terrible as celestial light.

"God wills it!"

Every tongue had caught the cry. It swelled forth, unbidden, the voicings of the passion in ten thousand breasts. The sun glanced on the crystal cross in the Pope's hand: those who saw were dazzled, and looked away.

"Yes," cried Urban, across the sea of quivering steel, "God sends His own sign from on high. Truly, thus 'God wills it!' To-day is fulfilled the Saviour's promise, that where His faithful are He will be. He it is that has put these words in your hearts; choose them as battle-cry; for on your side will be the God of battles, and at His will you shall trample down the unbeliever."

Then Urban raised on high the fire-bathed cross. "See," cried he once more, his voice rising above the swelling din, "Christ Himself issues from the tomb, and gives to you this cross. It shall be the sign lifted among the nations which is to gather together the outcasts of Israel. Wear it upon your shoulders, upon your breasts; let it shine upon your arms, surety of victory or palm of martyrdom; unceasing reminder that as Christ

died for you, so ought you to die for Him and His glory!"

Again rose the clamor, and until they chanted his death-mass Richard forgot not that hour. One wild cry went up, the scope of heaven shook, the earth quaked; and now the shout was, "The Cross! the Cross! to Jerusalem!" The swords danced more madly, and little Bernard rose from his seat, tossed his tiny fists in the air, and joined the mighty cry. Louis de Valmont, who had stood opposite Richard all the time, and drunk in each word, ran out before all men, flung his mailed arms round Longsword's neck and kissed him, while tears streamed down his face.

"O sweet brother," cried the Auvergner, all melted, "I too have sinned greatly in God's sight. I cannot go to Jerusalem with hate upon my soul. I forgive the death of Gilbert; pray that Our Lord may forgive me!"

The other men who had nursed unholy wrath one to the other began to embrace, and to beg for pardon; and many more kneeling stretched up their arms, calling heaven to witness they would shed no more Christian blood till the Holy City was redeemed. Urban stood upon the platform, silent, and looking out upon the throng with a smile that the beholders thought was not of this world. But when the surgings of the multitude were a little stayed, the Pope again beckoned, and there was great silence. Then Cardinal Gregory came forward, and all knelt and beat their breasts, repeating the _Confiteor_.

"I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault," repeated the thousands; "therefore I beseech the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, the blessed Michael, the archangel, the blessed John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and all the saints to pray to the Lord Our God for me."

Then when every casqued head was bowed low, the Cardinal proclaimed in a voice which the most distant might hear, "To as many as shall from pure love of Christ take the cross to go for the deliverance of Jerusalem, the same I do absolve from all their sins, and declare them spotless and perfect, in sight of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Amen!" And the words fell on Richard's soul like water on fevered lips. Another great cry, "The Cross! the Cross!" and the thousands surged with one impulse toward the pulpit, demanding the sacred token at the pontiff's own hands. And nigh foremost was Richard; not first, for Bishop Adhemar of Puy, his heart burning with holy fire, was already kneeling before the Pope, and Urban was pinning a red-cloth cross upon his shoulder. But Richard had sprung upon the platform and was next.


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