The Catholic Southern Front

Chapter 9/14 – Battles in Portugal and Fatima

The Salve Nobre Padroeira announces: “Hail, O noble Patron, Of the people whom You protect, Of the people chosen among all others, As the people of the Lord! O Thou, glory of our land, Whom You have saved a thousand times! As long as the Portuguese people exists, You will always be their love!”(1)

Our Lady miraculously aided France and Spain defeat the heretical Islamic forces. On the other hand, her protection did not necessarily favor the Spanish and French on the sole premise of them being born Catholic. During a battle, between the Portuguese/British (British but Catholic) and the Spanish/French forces, Our Lady interceded in favor of the oppressed whose land was unjustly taken over by a Castilian greedy monarch. On the eve of the Feast, commemorating Our Lady’s Assumption, the Portuguese inflicted a staggering defeat to a numerically superior army. The Lusitanos were the ancestors of the Portuguese people, who were first conquered by the Romans; they were later invaded by hordes of Moors from Africa. The King of Spain, Ferdinand of Leon and Castilla, reconquered most of Portugal from Moorish control. In 1143, under the rule of King Afonso Henriques, Portugal was first recognized as an independent entity. During the ‘Royal Battle’ carried out by the Father of King Joao I (John) of Portugal, Our Lady appeared to the troops, “…many of us saw her with our own eyes.”(2) In honor of her heavenly assistance, the Church of ‘Our Lady of Guimaraes’ was built. In 1385, at the hands of Joao of Aviz, the Portuguese expelled the Castilians at the Battle of Aljubarotta. Following this battle, John became King Joao I. The victory at Aljubarotta was crucial for the Portuguese, as from this point onwards Portugal became an empire with colonies in Africa, the Azores and Madeira, Latin America, India and the Far East. In 1383, King Fernando I died and his wife, Leonor Teles, became regent ruling Portugal together with her lover Count Andeiro. Fernando died without leaving an heir to the throne, his daughter Beatriz married the King of Castile Juan I. King Juan I ordered all Portuguese to proclaim Beatriz as Queen. Portugal was in this manner incorporated by Castile. One of King Fernando’s brothers, Joao of Aviz, revolted against this state of affairs and sought an audience with the regent finding her, not running Portuguese interests, but doing needlework. At the meeting the regent was informed that Joao had murdered her lover, Count Andeiro, and the regent was forced to flee for her life. Joao of Aviz was proclaimed King in 1385. The lineage of the pious Dom Joao, ruled Portugal from August 13, 1385 to 1580.

Following these events, Juan I of Castille intended to besiege Lisbon and on its way his army maltreated the Portuguese. On the Eve of the Feast commemorating the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven, Dom Joao I’s General, Nuno Alvares Pereira, commanded the Portuguese army at Sao Jorge. Six thousand five hundred troops were assisted by five hundred English crossbowmen, sent by King Richard II. Thirty thousand of the enemy’s troops came in sight. In honor of Our Lady and for her needed intercession, Nuno Alvares was still fasting when the armies met in battle. On August 7, 1385, with the standard of Our Lady in hand, Dom Nuno marched against the King of Castille and his troops. The war cry he yelled at the troops was: “In the name of God and the Virgin Mary.”(3) On the plateau of Fatima, Nuno Alvares was joined by Joao of Aviz’s troops and the King kneeling before the standard of Our Lady, vowed to erect a monastery in her honor and conduct a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Oliveira, if she were to intercede for victory. Although Juan I of Castille, forbade his troops from attacking, his impatient warriors broke the rank and attacked the Portuguese. This turn of events came about as aiding the Castilian forces were French troops, who did not heed the orders of the Spanish Sovereign. As the French line was before the Castilians, the French disregard of Juan I of Castile’s order ‘not to attack,’ was a disastrous move. Within one hour, the Portuguese cut down Juan I of Castile’s Army and the royal standard fell. On August 14, 1385, the Portuguese won at the Battle of Aljubarrota and when considering the superior power and numbers of the Spanish troops, Pope Boniface IX, in his bull of February 1391, described the victory as an evident miracle. The vow was kept and the King, together with his knights, went on foot for 150 miles to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Oliveira. During the pilgrimage carried out by the Portuguese King and troops, the people of Lisbon honored Our Lady, in continual ceremonies of thanksgiving. The Church and Monastery of Batalha were constructed a few miles from Fatima. Before the battle Joao I vowed to the Blessed Virgin to build a Dominican abbey and embellish the Church of ‘Nossa Senhora da Oliveira,’ should he be victorious. The work on the abbey commenced three years later in the district of Leiria, Portugal and today is called ‘Santa Maria da Vitoria na Batalha’ (Saint Mary of Victory in Battle). Philippa of Lancaster, King Joao I’s wife brought many English elements to ‘Battle Abbey.’ The Abbey was entrusted to the Dominicans and the Rosary became an integral part in Portuguese life. Not long afterwards, the Moors were expelled from their last remaining foothold in Algarve.

A site worthy of mention is the ‘Raposeira’ in Portugal, an important place for the invocation and the protection of navigators and mariners. Both the Virgin and Saint Luke are the patrons of sailors and prisoners of war and ransom of such. In 1352, King Alfonso IV set up the ‘Commission of Ransoms’ in the Portuguese site, for the recompense of prisoners of war from the Moors. It is documented that Prince Henry the Navigator, son of King Joao I and Philippa of Lancaster, visited the shrine often and owned property close by. The descendents of King Joao I kept their devotions to the Blessed Virgin and their crusading spirit. Ceuta was captured in 1415 and Tangiers in 1437. Henry the Navigator’s brother, Fernando, was captured during the Tangiers adventure and kept in a prison at Fez. While still in prison, he pleaded with the Virgin for his liberation and fasted during all of Our Lady’s Feast Days. However, the Queen of Martyrs, had other plans for him and in 1448, after resigning himself to such an end, Fernando died a martyr. His brother Henry intended to surprise the Islamic powers on the African coast and during his expeditions discovered the African perimeter. Henry the Navigator built a chapel dedicated to Our Lady on the beach of Restelo in the vicinity of Lisbon. Most expeditions to the Americas or the Indies departed from this region. Other adventurers and explorers venerated the Statue of Our Lady at this chapel; such explorers include, Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral. Vasco da Gama dedicated his expeditions under the patronage of Our Lady on May 20, 1498. In 1500, a church and monastery were built by Vasco da Gama, at Belem in Lisbon. The Sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Belem is considered by many to bear witness to the protection Our Lady granted to the adventurers who discovered, conquered and opened the way to the Americas for innumerable missionaries and martyrs who won new converts. Thankfully, their intrepid discoveries under the guidance of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, during the age of the Protestant Reformation served to convert millions of Indios to Catholicism.

Historical Portugal is intimately bound to Our Lady, who amongst other reasons, prepared it for the future supernatural events which took place at Fatima in 1917. In 1158, the Catholics conquered a village in Portugal where an Islamic princess lived. She was the daughter of Alcacer do Sal. The Moorish princess was betrothed to the new Count of Ourem, the crusader Goncalo Hermingues, and previous to the marriage was converted to Catholicism. She was baptized as Oureana, but her previous name was Fatima, named after the daughter of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Of his daughter Fatima, the founder of Mohammedanism, Mohammed, said: “She has the highest place in heaven after the Virgin Mary.”(4) However, the Moorish princess died at a young age and her husband, Goncalo, took the habit and entered the Cistercian Abbey of Alcobaca. He was sent to a village in the mountains to found a small priory. He removed Fatima’s remains to the priory, which together with the village came to be known as Fatima.

Blessed Nuno was born in 1360 near Lisbon. He was made Commander of the armies, at age twenty-three by the Grandmaster of the Knights of Aviz, who would later become King Joao I of Portugal. Nuno gained the confidence of his men when during battle he was seen fighting off Castilians whilst one of his legs was trapped beneath his wounded horse. General Nuno Alvares Pereira attended three Masses every day; he obliged his men to attend at least one, especially during wartime. Blessed Nuno led the Portuguese Army at the Battle of Aljubarotta in 1385. On the eve of the Battle of Aljubarotta on August 13, Blessed Nuno asked for a sign from God that his greatly outnumbered army would be victorious through the intercession of ‘Our Lady Queen of Portugal.’ When the advancing troops arrived at the Cova da Iria of Fatima, the horses began to kneel and Nuno was led to a place upon the Mount of Saint Michael where the apparitions of Fatima occurred in 1917. Nuno rebuilt in his hometown, Vila Vicosa, the first church dedicated to Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. On his wife’s death, Blessed Nuno became a Carmelite monk of a monastery he had founded. On August 15, 1423, Feast of the Assumption he took the habit and could hear with his own ears the Blessed Virgin speak from her Image saying: “Come to me wear my sign and I will make you a saint…. be perfect…find my Son…imitate me!”(5) Later he adopted the name Nuno de Santa Maria (Nuno of Saint Mary). Blessed Nuno always wore his sword and breastplate beneath his habit. Before his death, King Joao I visited Nuno and embraced him for the last time as he considered Nuno his closest friend, helping set up his lineage on the throne, establishing the Royal House of Braganza. In later years Nuno’s daughter married the Duke of Braganza, the son of King Joao I. Their descendents ruled over Portugal for a period of three hundred years 1640-1910. On March 25, 1646, Nuno’s descendent, King John IV of Portugal consecrated the land to Our Lady and crowned Our Lady of Conception’s stone Image at Vila Vicosa, with the Royal Crown as Queen of Portugal. At the request of King Joao I, Pope Boniface IX declared that all the Cathedrals in Portugal should be dedicated to Our Lady. Coincidentally for us, but not for heaven, this very enactment was repeated in commemoration of the first declaration on May 13, 1917, the date of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.

When Blessed Nuno was on the point of death, he asked for the Gospel of Saint John to be read aloud. He expired when the reader pronounced Our Lord’s words from the Cross: “Ecce Mater Tua”(Behold Thy Mother). Indeed, mankind behold thy mother, the Woman of Revelation 12, Queen of Heaven and earth. The Blessed monk did much to spread the devotion of the rosary and scapular in Portugal. The epitaph on his tomb reads: “Here lies that famous Nuno, the Constable, founder of the House of Braganza, excellent general, blessed monk, who during his life on earth so ardently desired the Kingdom of Heaven that after his death, he merited the eternal company of the Saints. His worldly honors were countless, but he turned his back on them. He was a great Prince, but he made himself a humble monk. He founded, built and endowed this church in which his body rests.”(6) Dom Nuno was the perfect example of how the true Catholic warrior should carry himself and fight with courage, communicating strength to his companions.

In 1531, Queen Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic of Spain, venerated his relics. On December 1, 1640, Portugal proclaimed the Duke of Braga, King John IV. On December 8 in the Royal Chapel of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the restoration of the monarchy and national independence were celebrated. Spain did not accept this and twenty eight years of war followed, during which time, Our Lady protected decisively the Nation of Portugal in a series of victories. In 1646, John IV renewed the act of his ancestor, recognized Our Lady Immaculate as Patroness and Defender of the Realm, called upon the court to profess themselves her vassals, himself vowed and insisted that the University of Coimbra should follow suit, to defend the belief that Mary was conceived Immaculate. While placing his crown at the feet of Our Lady’s Statue of the Immaculate Conception, the wording was as follows: “Hoping with great confidence in the infinite mercy of Our Lord, who by the mediation of this Patroness and Protectress of our kingdom and our lands, of which we have the honor to call ourselves vassals and tributaries, shall protect and defend us against our enemies (Spain), while considerably increasing our lands, for the glory of Christ our God and the exaltation of the Holy Roman Catholic Faith, the conversion of pagans and the submission of heretics. And if anyone dares to attempt anything against our promise, oath and vassalage, we will consider him from this moment as no longer belonging to the nation and we wish him to be driven from the kingdom; and if he is king (which may God avert), may the divine malediction and ours fall on him and may he no longer be counted among our descendants; we vow that he be cast out and stripped of the throne by the same God who gave us the kingdom and raised us up to the royal dignity.”(7) This prayer can be viewed today as a prophecy.

Two centuries following the oath of the King, Pope Pius IX defined the infallible doctrine and Dogma on Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. Regarding this King, the Pope said: “He bound himself by an oath, in which the prince and the court joined him, swearing to propose and defend, even at the cost of his life, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, on condition of the Church’s approval.”(8) The vow which the King had made, was engraved in marble, this engraving can still be seen at Leira on a building on Alcobaca Street. The engraved marble plaque was originally placed upon the gates of the towns; however, the Masonic liberal governments of the nineteenth century removed the plaques, the conflicts against the secret fraternal societies are recounted in other chapters. Unfortunately today, just like the rest of the Catholic peoples, the Portuguese are forgetting their love for the Blessed Virgin and her Redeeming Son. Let it be repeated here the pledge which can be today directed towards the powers of secret liberal societies working in the Portugese and Spanish Nations, “And if anyone dares to attempt anything against our promise, oath and vassalage, we will consider him from this moment as no longer belonging to the nation and we wish him to be driven from the kingdom; and if he is king (which may God avert), may the divine malediction and ours fall on him and may he no longer be counted among our descendants; we vow that he be cast out and stripped of the throne by the same God who gave us the kingdom and raised us up to the royal dignity.”

 

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