With national celebrations extending over two months, Portugal, England's oldest ally, is this year celebrating the 800th anniversary of her foundation as a state.
The Duke of Kent, who is representing the King, attended the Pontifical High Mass at the famous Jeronimos Monastery at Lisbon on Thursday last, which was one of the major events in the civic and diplomatic celebrations.
On Saturday the Duke presented Dr. Salazar, the Portuguese Prime Minister, with the insignia of the G.C.M.G., in tire presence of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Chatfield and Field-Marshal Lord Birdwood.
Dr. Salazar begged the Duke to convey to King George his sincerest thanks. It is the first decoration Dr. Salazar has ever accepted. A number of Portuguese officials were decorated later in the morning.
Since Germany has overrun Europe Portugal has taken on great importance as the solitary Western outpost, apart from Britain, not under Axis influence. In some circles it is thought that Germany may demand to march through Spain to take Portugal. In that case Spain may resist to-day as she resisted Napoleon a hundred and thirty years ago.
We print below an article giving an outline of Portugal Catholic history.
Portugal's Loyalty to the Faith
From a Special Correspondent Few countries have done more for the furtherance of the Catholic Faith than Portugal, whose area is approxi
mately the same as that of Ireland. The Portuguese nation had its beginnings at the end of the eleventh century, when Ferdinand I of Castile conferred the
title of Count of Portugal upon Henry of Burgundy, who had rendered valu able assistance against the Moors. Count Henry was succeeded by his son,
Affonso Henriques, who in 1139 assumed the regal title, in consequence of which he is considered the first
King of Portugal.
Early in the fifteenth century the Portuguese began to lay the foundations of their great colonial empire. Worldly gain and aggrandisement were by no means the sole object which the Conquistadores had in view. They sought to establish everywhere the Kingdom of Christ and bands of zealous friars accompanied every expedition to the Orient and the New World.
Overrun by French
During the Napoleonic era the country was overrun by the French. and the Royal Family was forced to take refuge in Brazil. It was then that Liberalism gained ground, and even after the return of King Joao VI in 1821 the country remained in an unsettled state.
In the year 1834 the triumphant Liberals suppressed all the male Religious Orders. prohibited the nuns front receiving novices and confiscated the property of the Church, which hod beery mainly devoted to the cause of
charity and education. In 1835 this monstrous injustice was extended to the colonies with toast disastrous results.
In 1910 the effete Monarchy was
overthrown and a Republic established in its place. One of the first acts of the new regime was to suppress the few existing religious houses and to deprive the clergy of the meagre pittance, which they had hitherto received. Religious teaching was abolished in the schools and all external manifestations of religion were prohibited.
Then when all seemed lost the Crusade of the Rosary for the restoration of Portugal was initiated by the Irish Dominicans at Lisbon. who alone of the Religious Orders had escaped suppression as being a British institution.
Those joining the Crusade undertook to soy daily five decades for the triumph of the Faith in Portugal. The results were beyond all expectations and within a year the tide had begun to turn. slowly at first but eventually
in an overwhelming torrent. Diplomatic relations with the Holy See. interrupted in 1910, were restoned under a new government.
In 1917 Our Lady appeared to three children at Fatima, a lonely spot to the north of Lisbon, whither hundreds of thousands of pilgrims now flock in the course of a year until it has become
almost a rival of Lourdes. Another famous place of pilgrimage is the church of Born Jesus Do Monte.
Finally, in 1926, with the accession to power of a military dictatorship, the corrupt Government was overthrown and a new era of justice and progress established under the able rule of General Carrnona, an implacable enemy of the Freemasons who had so long dominated the country.
Under the present regime the disabilities which had so long afflicted the Church have been mostly removed. The Religious Orders have been legalised, grants of land and money have been made for the development of the missions in the colonies and religious teaching has been authorised in the schools. Recently a Concordat with the Holy See has been signed.
A new law orders the Crucifix to be placed over the teacher's chair " as the symbol of Christian education determined by the Constitution." President Carmona has been ably supported by Dr. Oliveira Salazar, who from being an almost unknown professor at Coimbra
has to he Minister of Finance and
Freemasonry Power Broken
The power of anti-clerical Freemasonry so Icing the bane of official Portugal, has been broken by legislation which forbids any member of the fighting services or civil servants to belong w a lodge. A further clause in the law states that meetings of lodges must be held in public and gives government representatives authority to inspect freely their books and correspondence. A very gratifying feature of the religious revival is the great increase in priestly vocations during the last few years.
The diocese now possesses two well equipped seminaries and numerous students. It is the same with most of the other dioceses. There are three flourishing missionary colleges with as many students as they can accommodate. These three colleges are maintained by the Government, which also provides stipends for the missionaries working in the colonies.
Reverence for Cross of Christ
The Press. the theatre and the cinema are all HOW definitely sympathetic to religion. It is rare in see a man pass a church without lifting his hat. and nowhere is the Cross held in greater veneration titan in Portugal.
In concluding this brief survey of the Church in Portugal we cannot do better than by quoting from a public utterance of the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon. "There has been," says His Eminence, "a spiritual renaissance in Portugal. It is a miracle, The soul of the Portuguese nation is horn again in the grace of its people, who are renewing their energies at the source of all life. The Constitution of Portugal is based on Catholic principles, guaranteeing the freedom of the family, of the Church, of education, and by that freedom encouraging them to grow. Everything is based on the family as the unit of life in society. The aids given to its development by the Church and by Catholic education have revived the enthusiasm of the Portuguese people. They are happy." 0 si sic (mines nationes!