Rorate Caeli

All hail the Holy Constable:
Saint Nuno Alvares Pereira,
glory of Portugal

This Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI will include in the canon of saints of the Catholic Church the great warrior, holy patriot, and humble Christian: Nuno Alvares Pereira.

As we mentioned last year, in an age of so many disgraceful individuals involved in public life, the life of the Holy Constable of Portugal, Nuno Alvares Pereira (1360-1431), is perhaps the most surprising of them. One of the greatest statesmen and military leaders in the history of the Iberian Peninsula, he was always a most faithful son of the Church. After becoming a widower, and despite having all the fortune, power, and gratitude of his nation at his disposal, Blessed (soon to be Saint) Nuno became a Carmelite lay brother in a monastery whose foundation he himself had helped.

A great warrior, a loyal protector of his nation, its Sovereigns, and its independence, a good father and husband, a generous benefactor, a humble monk; at all times, an unwavering Son of the Holy Catholic Church: a full and complete hero for our empty and defective age.

(UPDATE - 1000 GMT) From the homily of His Holiness at the Canonization:
«Know ye also that the Lord hath made me wonders: the Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him.» (Psalm 4,4). These words of the Psalm express the secret of the life of Blessed Nuno of Saint Mary, hero and saint of Portugal.

The seventy years of his life take place in the second half of the 14th Century, and the first half of the 15th Century, which saw that nation solidify its independence from Castille and extend through the Oceans - not without a particular design by God -, opening new routes which would lead to the arrival of the Gospel of Christ unto the ends of the Earth.

Saint Nuno considers himself an instrument of this higher design, and engages himself in the militia Christi, that is, in the service of testimony that every Christian is called to give to the world. His characteristics are an intense life of prayer, and an absolute trust in Divine help.

Even though he was a superlative soldier and a great leader, he never let his personal gifts be placed above the supreme action which comes from God. Saint Nuno made an effort not to place obstacles to the action of God in his life, imitating Our Lady, to Whom he was most devoted, and to Whom he publicly ascribed his victories. At the end of his life, he retired to the convent of the Carmel [Lisbon], which he had ordered to be built.

I feel glad to present to the whole Church this man, exemplary particularly for the presence of a life of prayer and faith in contexts apparently not too favorable to it, being the evidence that, in any situation, even of a military and warlike nature, it is possible to act and to fulfill the values and principles of the Christian life, above all it the latter is placed in the service of the common good and of the glory of God.