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Friday, 05 November 2021 10:17

Memorial of St. Nuno Alvares Pereira

On November 6th we celebrate the memorial of St. Nuno Alvares Pereira.

What would become the Carmelite Province of Portugal, which appears for the first time at the general chapter of 1425, owes its existence to St. Nuno Alvares Pereira, national hero of Portugal. He built a house in Lisbon for the Carmelites and later entered the Order as a semifrater (a sort of lay brother), residing in that house until his death.

Although he wanted to live simply, this was not always possible. Former soldiers under his command also entered the Order and found it difficult to address their former Constable as just another fellow Carmelite. Because he belonged to the royal family of Portugal, the king forbid him as unseemly Nuno’s practice of walking about town in his Carmelite habit handing out money to the poor.

While the monastery now serves as the headquarters for the National Republican Guard (GNR) of Portugal, there are many remembrances to Nuno inside, including his supposed cell. The Church, also a gift from Nuno to the Order was mostly destroyed in the earthquake of 1755. Ancient authors are extravagant in their praise of this structure. It consisted of three naves and a transept, the naves divded by five Gothic arches. The sanctuary was the richest in the court, its retable commissioned by a distinguished scripture scholar. The tribune was flanked by life-size statues of Elijah and Elisha, the former bearing the sword of Nuno himself. The statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was also provided by the Constable and the clothing for the statue by King John V.

His epitaph read:

"Here lies that famous Nuno, the Constable, founder of the House of Bragança, 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."

On April 26, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI, having recognized the miraculous cure of a blind woman by Nuno's intercession, declared him a saint, 578 years after his death in the same year that Joan of Arc was burned.

The Carmelite house in Fatima, Portugal, which host pilgrims to the site of the Marian apparitions is named in honor of Nuno, Portugal’s greatest military hero and one of the Order’s most dedicated sons.

To read more click here

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