At the beginning of the 13th century, Estonia was conquered by the German Teutonic Order and Christianized by force. Some archaeological evidence suggests that Christianity was known in the centuries prior to the conquest. Based on archaeological relics, such as crosses and metal book corners, some area of Estonia have been Christian.
Whether the first Christians reached Estonia from the east, west or south is still hidden behind the veil of history. Stories about the first missionaries are based on legends. However, it is quite clear that systematic Christianisation of the territory of present-day Estonia and its inhabitants was initiated by the Catholic Church in the first years of the 13th century, in the course of the 'Baltic Crusade' (1171-1525). In 1202, the founder of the city of Riga, Bishop Albert, created a religious order, the Sword Brothers (Fratres militiae Christi), modelling it on the Templars; the aim of the new order was to 'integrate' new territories and their inhabitants into the Christian world. By 1227, the territory of present-day Estonia had been Christianised; since 1215, it had borne the name 'Land of Mary', given by Pope Innocent III. During the following centuries this name became a synonym for Estonia, at least for Estonians themselves, who very often did not recall the religious background of the name.
Msgr. Philippe Jourdan is of Basque origin. He earned the diploma in mathematics and engineering at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris and became a member of Opus Dei as a student. After being called to priesthood, he pursued theological studies at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and was ordained as a priest in the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross by Cardinal Bernard Francis Law on 20 August 1988.