Thursday, 25 September 2014

Journeys of Faith

Let the truth be victorious

The Crusades, a new docudrama from EWTN

Episode one of the new EWTN mini-series, The Crusades will be broadcast on 8th October in the USA at 10pm and 9th October at 9.30pm in the UK, the following 3 episodes will be shown on consecutive days at the same time slot. There will also be a continuous showing of all 4 episodes on Saturday 11th starting at 7pm in the Britain and Ireland.

The Camraman's father Julus Benko playing a Crusader,
from the opening sequence

The series is a co-production between EWTN, St Clare Media Foundation of the UK, Buckfast Abbey Devon and Lux communication of Slovakia. The team form Lux provided all the technical facilities for the series including the filming, editing, sound recording mixing. I am very grateful to the director Marek Polacek and to Michal Benko the cameraman/editor for all their hard work and for putting up with this grumpy old Traditionalist, as they call me: -). We all had to take on many disciplines in order to bring in a production that we were determined would be as good, quality wise as a documentary for the main stream media that would cost four or five times as much to make. The series has already been translated into Slovak, Spanish and German.

A scene from the series - shot at Kenilworth Castle England

Episode One – Journeys of Faith
The link here is made between pilgrimages and the Crusades, as the first Crusades were called armed pilgrimages, to help with this there are many clips from the Paris - Chartres pilgrimage, for which we spent three days filming last year. A separate documentary on the Chartres pilgrimage will follow later in the year.

A pilgrim preparing food from episode one
Journeys of Faith

Pilgrimages have always played an important part in the devotional and penitential life of Christians. From the time of Christ, the most important pilgrimage sites were in the Holy Land and in particular - Jerusalem. So we were awe inspired to film in the Holy Sepulcher. And after delicate negotiations with the Armenian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox churches (the Catholics were always very helpful of course) we had the privilege to film at the very sites of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. We conducted a very interesting interview with Fr Clark the rector of the Basilica for the Latin Rite.

The Chartres Pilgrimage

We look at the rise of Islam and how Muslims conquered the Christian lands of the Palestine, North Africa, even Iberia and at one point threatened France. In 1095 Christendom finally made a stand when Pope Urban II instigated the First Crusade after the Byzantine Emperor called for help to regain his lost lands, and to make the Holy Land safe again for pilgrims. There are some points here that main stream media fail to mention.

Professor Thomas F Madden being interviewed in Istanbul (Constantinople)
overlooking the Bosporus

Muslim conquests to 732 the once Christian lands are in dark green
The first episode, Journeys of Faith like the other three episodes in the series, contains drama sequences and re-enactments to better depict the crusading era. Also with the help of some of the world’s leading crusades historians such as Professors Jonathan Riley-Smith, Thomas Madden, Jonathan Phillips, and Damian Smith we were able to dispel the myths of the Crusades. The theological background is given by Fr Thomas Crean OP, also in episode one we have James Bogle who discuses the reasons for the original call to crusade.

Hagia Sophia

The Blue Mosque - a copy of Hagia Sophia?

I am very grateful to EWTN for allowing us to make what is really quite an expansive docudrama, we not only shot in 7 countries across Europe and the Holy Land, we also filmed two crusader re-enactor groups one at Kenilworth castle in England, the other was a Slovak crusader group who we filmed in Central Europe. Throughout the series there are drama sequences about 15 in total, in later episodes we have St Louis IX that great crusader king and St Francis meeting the sultan Al-Kamil and many other scenes to help tell the story.

On the 8th October (9th UK) before the first episode is shown myself and Professor Thomas Madden will be on Fr Mitch Pacwas EWTN Live programme to discuss the series and why and how we made it.


  1. Really looking forward to seeing this Stefano - congratulations on a great achievement.


  2. Thank you Chris, it’s a bit scary now waiting for it to be broadcast after 18 months working on it.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you Michal - and thanks for all your good work on the project as well.

  4. Any chance of it being available on a DVD disk? I will not be able to see it on the EWTN.

  5. Yes we hope to have a DVD out with extras but it is still in production so it will be a little while yet.

  6. 10pm is a bat should be an 8pm slot ... working catholic families cannot stay up to 11pm....

    1. Its 10pm ET so perhaps that means it will be earlier in more western parts of the USA. I live in England so I'm not sure about your time zones. I will check with EWTN today and get back to you via this blog. Each episode lasts for 30 minutes and the E3 and E4 will be on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th of October.

    2. The programmes start at 10pm in the States and finish at 10:30 they will probably repeat them if enough people ask.

  7. hopefully there will be some focus on WHY the xtian crusades happened

    note that history records the expansion of islam from 700 to 1000 as 300 years of intensive land grabbing...

  8. Yes we show what happened and with maps. Also Prof Madden says Muslim conquest was all by the sword, unlike Christianity which was the result of peaceful missionary work.

  9. Liked the series. Watching it over and over with ROKU EWTN channel. Will there be a downloadable transcript of the series I could study to more fully digest all the content?

    1. Thank you very much glad you liked it - I will look into a transcript