The Catholic Southern Front

Chapter 9/15 – Granada’s Monarchs and Our Lady of Guadeloupe

Queen Isabella I of Castile, born in 1453 and died in 1504, was the daughter of John II, King of Castile and of Isabella of Portugal. She ascended the throne in 1469. Due to certain conflicts and power struggles, a war against Portugal began and ended in 1479. After rejecting many suitors, Isabella married the King of Aragon, Ferdinand, and in this manner the Spanish Nation was united. The Pope of the time being Spanish himself, Alexander VI, gave the title ‘Catholic’ to the King of Spain. The monarchs were to hold equal authority, which served also to reduce the power of the nobles, who had at the time acquired much influence. The Royal couple confiscated many lands from the aristocracy and when Ferdinand became the Grandmaster of the military orders, Isabella took over the administration of their holdings. Together, the Royal Couple established the ‘Santa Hermandad’ or ‘Holy Brotherhood,’ which was a permanent military force. They attempted at conquering Granada, Zahara and Alhama. Isabella visited the battle camps repeatedly and provided support for the army of which Ferdinand was the head. Granada surrendered in January 1492.

Fernando was devoted to the Blessed Virgin, his sword carried phrases and etchings, which invoked her aid and protection and founded a chivalric order dedicated to her purity and the Immaculate Conception. During these days it was prophesied that the devil or anti-christ would appear in Seville, that the forces of the King would embark from Cadiz, that dreadful battle would occur and that the messianic forces of the Catholics would drive out the Moors and conquer Granada.

Abu ‘abd Allah Muhammad XII, was the last Islamic King. His name in short was known as Boabdil, he was the last Moorish King of the Asrid Dynasty in Granada. Proclaimed king in 1482, he replaced his father who was driven from the land. His first attempt at invading Castile proved fruitless, for he was captured at Lucena in 1483. His freedom was granted on the premise that Granada was to be held as a tributary kingdom. When he refused to surrender Granada to Queen Isabella and Ferdinand, the city was besieged and in January 1492, Granada surrendered. The captives were faced with the choice to convert to Christianity or be exiled. When King Ferdinand besieged Granada, it was evident that his force would vanquish Boabdil’s resistance. Agreements were carried out in secret for the terms of capitulation. Boabdil was to become the ruler of a territory in Sierra Nevada. January 2, 1492 was set as the day of Catholic occupation. Solemnly the cross was raised together with the banner of Castile upon Alhambra’s highest tower. On the Epiphany, January 6, the Catholic King entered the City of Granada through the gates of the Asrid Palace. This marked the end of the Moorish Islamic power in Spain, which completely came to an end in 1609.

The navigator Christopher Columbus was appreciated in Queen Isabella’s court. He was presented to the Queen through her confessor and the Cardinal of Spain. With the aid of Queen Isabella and Ferdinand, Columbus fitted out his world famous embarks. On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed from Palos on the ship ‘Santa Maria’ and on the Feast of ‘Our Lady of the Pillar’ October 12, he discovered the Bahamas. In 1503, the Queen set up the ‘Secretariat of the Indian Affairs,’ this organization later become the ‘Supreme Council of the Indies.’ The Queen was viewed as a model of virtue and piety to all the royalty, nobility and people of the time. She considered the American Indians as her subjects and charged her successors to treat them, as they would treat Spanish subjects. Under the Pope’s authority Isabella initiated the reformation of the Spanish monasteries, which later expanded throughout the whole Church.

If at such early dates, Our Lady initiated the foundation for the events which took place in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal, she also accomplished the preparative beginnings for the future devotion to ‘Our Lady of Guadeloupe’ by means of which she converted millions of South American Indios. In the eight-century, during Charles Martel and Don Pelayo’s times, when the Moors had swept through Spain, Catholic religious icons and treasures were buried high in the Estremadura Mountains. Amongst the religious items buried, was a statue of Our Lady holding the Divine Child Jesus, which was renowned as being the workmanship of Saint Luke. As a gift the Pontiff Saint Gregory the Great had donated the Image to Saint Leander, Bishop of Seville and brother of Saint Isidore of Seville. The statue was discovered by a shepherd in 1320-6 and was named ‘Nossa Senhora de Guadeloupe’ or ‘Our Lady of Guadeloupe.’ Gil Cordero was the shepherd/cowherd who had discovered the statue close by the ‘wolf river’ or ‘Guada (river), Lupe (wolf).’ Guadeloupe being the Islamic phrase for Wolf River. In the thirteenth century, the Knights Templars erected a chapel for the veneration of the statue. Six centuries following the burial of the Statue of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, the African Abu al-Hasan’Ali, of the Marinid Dynasty, invaded the Iberian Peninsula with a grand army. The Marinids had mobilized this vast army and following their crossing the Strait of Gibraltar and defeating a Christian fleet, proceeded inland to the Salado River near Tarifa. The Marinids met in battle a Catholic army commanded by Alfonso IV of Portugal and Alfonso XI of Castille. On October 30, 1340, before the battle, Alfonso of Castille invoked the help of ‘Nossa Senhora de Guadeloupe.’ Abu al-Hasan suffered a great defeat and Our Lady’s victory is remembered as the Battle of Rio Salado. By means of this victory, the devotion for ‘Our Lady of Guadeloupe’ in Spain spread also to Portugal through Alfonso IV of Portugal and his Army.

In the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, Guadeloupe became an important pilgrimage destination. The World needed Our Lady of Guadeloupe, for she played a significant role in the conversion of the South American natives and in 1571 wrought a decisive victory in the naval Battle at Lepanto. The Catholic universal Feast commemorating ‘Our Lady of Guadeloupe’ is celebrated on December 12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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