O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

St. George and the Portuguese Monarchy

St. George, São Jorge, Svyatiy Yuri
St. George is Patron of Portugal, England, Milan, Genoa, the Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and virtually all Christian militaries. You know the classic story of the knight in shining armor who saves the damsel in distress from a dragon? That's St. George and it's the classic and proper way to depict him. The dragon was terrorizing a particular city and a young virgin would be sacrificed to him each month to appease him. One month, the maiden chosen was Christian and prayed for deliverance. St. George was the answer. Contrary to the popular image of the "knight in shining armor", St. George was a Roman soldier, so his "shining armor" was actually the famous Roman "lorica segmentata" ("segmented breastplate") with all the trappings of a Roman soldier.

As Patron Saint of Portugal, he is honored by having his symbol of the dragon (a very old symbol of the country) sit atop one of the royal scepters and two dragons hold up the shield in the coat of arms of the Most Serene House of Bragança.

Arms of the Most Serene House of Bragança

The Scepter of the Dragon has
a dragon, the constitution,
and the crown.

While were talking about sacred symbols in the Portuguese Crown Jewels, the crown of Portugal, the Crown of João VI, has never been worn. João IV at his coronation in 1646 took off his crown and put it at the feet of a statue of Our Lady of the Conception (the title Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception didn't become popular until that dogma was defined in 1854) that was there in the Church of the Monastery of St. Mary, known as the Jeromite Monastery (Moisteiro dos Jeronimos) after the order that lived there, and proclaimed Our Lady of the Conception to be the "True Queen of Portugal". No king has worn a crown since. All subsequent kings were "acclaimed" instead of "crowned". The ceremony remained exactly the same except the placing of the crown on the sovereign's head was omitted and the crown remained at the foot of Our Lady of the Conception the entire time. So in 1817, João VI needed a new set of crown jewels with the resulting set consisting of a crown, two scepters, and a mantle. That means of course that the Crown of João VI has never been worn and has belonged exclusively to the Mother of God.

The Crown of João VI

The Acclamation of of João IV, the last day a Portuguese Sovereign ever wore a crown.
For the sake of completeness:

The Scepter of the Armillary,
topped with the
Portuguese Cross of Christ
The Royal Mantle of João VI

Now of course, the reason why João VI needed a new mantle is because João V donated his mantle to make a cape for the statue of Ecce Homo in Ponta Delgada:

The cape of João V, on the bottom
That makes a clean sweep of the Portuguese Royal Regalia having a Catholic significance of some kind.