Today In Fact, 21 August

My great grandfather, Papa Yakob Kuenzler of the Armenians lived and worked with his wife, Elizabeth in the Turkish town of Urfa as Christian Missionaries running a small hospital in the years before and during the First World War.

They witnessed the Turkish genocide of the Armenians and took into their care the thousands of Armenian orphans that flocked to their small mission.

Urfa used to be called Edessa. After the first Crusade in 1096, Edessa was an important town in the Christian conquest of the Middle East. One of the French knights that participated in this crusade was Baldwin of Rethel. He was installed in 1100 as the Count Baldwin II of Edessa, ruling the Northern Caucasian region from this historic town.

Baldwin II of Edessa married an Armenian princess called Morphia and they had four daughters. Baldwin was an extremely devout Christian who spent many hours every day on his knees in prayer. So much so that his knees were calloused and deformed.

Baldwin fought the Turks and other Islamic potentates and was twice captured and imprisoned by them. On both occasions he was ransomed and freed. In 1118 he was crowned King of Jerusalem and ruled Crusader Jerusalem for 13 years until he abdicated due to ill health in 1131. He named his daughter, Melisande his successor.

In his first year as King of Jerusalem, Baldwin II gave one of his buildings to a new order, the Knights Templar which had recently been formed by nine knights who wished to protect Christian pilgrims travelling to the holy land.

On this day in 1131, Baldwin II, who had withdrawn to a local monastery in Jerusalem, died and is buried in the Church of the Holy Sephulcre.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer ( )

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