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Our Lady of Cárquere Cures the
Future King of Portugal

Hugh O’Reilly
Our Lady of Cárquere is one of the oldest devotion in the history of Portugal.

our lady of carquere

The small ivory statue of Our Lady of Carquere

On the site where her church stands today, there was in ancient times a temple dedicated to a Roman divinity, which fell into ruins after the land became Christian. At the time of the Arab invasion when King Rodrigo lost Spain to the Moors, a small ivory statue of Our Lady was already being venerated there in a hermitage.

After the Moors had usurped the land, the Catholics hid the Holy Virgin and Child and other sacred objects so that they would not be desecrated. Time passed and the statue was forgotten.

The statue is found

Many years later, in 1109 Alfonso Henrique was born to Count Dom Henrique of Burgundy and Countess Dona Teresa of Leon, who ruled the large territory in the name of the Spanish King Alfonso VI of Castile and León. To the great sadness of the noble parents, their only son was born a cripple, paralyzed from the knees down. The child was placed under the tutorship of Egas Monis, a knight from one of the noble family of Ribadoura.

This worthy tutor was also a man of faith, and had a great admiration for the militant and pious spirit of the young Prince placed under his charge. He prayed fervently for his change, seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin that the boy’s legs might be healed through her intercession.

One night in about the year 1113, when the Prince was four years old, Egas Monis had a dream. In it. Our Lady appeared to him, awakening him from his slumber. The beautiful Lady addresssed the startled knight: “Are you asleep?”

Dom Egas replied: “Lady, who are you?”

baptism

The baptism of Prince Afonso Henriques, a cripple from birth

“I am the Virgin Mary,” she said, and then she commanded that he go to a place in the hills above the Douro River. Indicating to him the exact spot, she ordered him:

“Dig in this place, and you will find the remains of a hermitage that venerated me there in times long past, and you will also find an image of me. Rebuild the chapel and, this being done, place the child overnight on the altar, and he will be cured and made well, because my Son desires that he destroy many enemies of the Faith.”

Dom Egas Monis, comforted and joyful after the apparition, made haste to execute the order of Our Lady. He told Count Dom Henrique all that has passed. The ruined hermitage and the small image were soon found, just as the Blessed Virgin had said, and the King ordered a church to built on the site.

When all was ready, the King, accompanied by the Queen and her entourage, brought the young Prince, who was then five-years-old, to the chapel, intending to place him on the altar to spend the night with him in vigil.

Upon entering the chapel, the entire entourage fell into a mysterious sleep; only the boy remained awake. The boy sat for a time, watching the burning candles on the altar burning. At some point he realized that one of the altar candles was tilting dangerously. Finally, it fell and started a fire.

alphonsus

Our Lady foretold that Dom Henrique would vanquish many enemies of Her Son

Prince Afonso, unable to awaken his mother or his tutor, climbed onto the altar and put out the fire. It was then that he realized he had been cured, and, jumping for sheer joy he awakened the whole entourage, who gave thanks to Our Lady for the miracle she had granted.

The Count, grateful to Our Lady of Cárquere for curing his first-born son to health and perfection, ordered the church to be enlarged and a monastery built and given to the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. Dom Egas Monis commenced to train the Prince to ride and in the use of arms so that he might become a great warrior, as God desired.

The miraculous statue of Our Lady of Carquere is carved in ivory and is only one foot tall, and is believed to date from the time of the Visigoths. The sculpture depicts the Blessed Mother with the Divine Child sitting on her knee. The Child holds a book in his left hand, and gives His blessing with His right.

The Church of Our Lady of Carquere, or Santa Maria de Carquere, can still be visited in Resende, Spain.

reliquary

Reliquary of Our Lady of Carquere
in her Church in Resende, Spain


Excerpt from Notes on Parental Advice in the Middle Ages
by George Valentine Kendall, Thesis, 1913, pp. 7-21.
Posted September 11, 2021

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