Sunday, April 1, 2012

St. Nuno: Constable and Carmelite

The military capabilities of Nuno were, nevertheless, tempered by a deep spirituality, a profound love of the Eucharist and of the Blessed Virgin, the main foundations of his interior life. Totally dedicated to Marian prayer, he fasted in Mary’s honour on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and on the vigil of her feasts. The banner he chose as his personal standard bore the image of the cross, of Mary and of the saintly knights James and George. At his own expense he built numerous churches and monasteries, among which was the Carmelite church in Lisbon and the church of Our Lady of Victories at Batalha.

Following the death of his wife in 1387, Nuno did not wish to marry again and became a model of celibate life. When peace finally came, he gave the bulk of his wealth to the veterans, the rest he would dispose of in 1423 when he decided to enter the convent of the Carmelites which he himself had founded, taking the name of Brother Nuno of Saint Mary. Animated by love he abandoned power to serve the poor: it was a radical choice for a life, bringing as it did to a high point, the authentic path of faith which he had always followed. With this choice, he left behind the weapons of war and power in order to be vested in spiritual armor as the Rule of Carmel recommends. He would have wanted to withdraw to a community far away from Portugal, but the son of the king, Don Duarte, prevented it. No power could stop him from dedicating himself to the convent and above all to the poor, whom he continued to help and serve in every possible way. For them he organized a daily distribution of food and never hesitated in responding to their needs. The Commander of the King of Portugal, chief officer of the army and victorious leader, founder and benefactor of the Carmelite community, when entering the convent did not want any privileges but chose the humblest rank of a lay brother, putting himself at the service of the Lord, of Mary his ever venerated Patron, and of the poor in whom he recognized the face of Jesus himself.

Of significance too was the day of the death of Brother Nuno of Saint Mary: it was Easter Sunday, the 1st April 1431, and what following it was that he was immediately acclaimed a saint by the people who called him “O Santo Condestavel” [Holy Constable]. (Read entire post.)

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