King St. Ferdinand endures war from his father

October 23, 2014

The King received an unusual message one day. He was in his chamber when one of his noblemen quickly entered the room with the strange news that the lord of Vizcaya was waiting outside, disguised as an oxherd and very tired.

Saint Ferdinand IIIDon Lope, disguised! Because it was so unusual, Ferdinand anxiously ordered him to enter immediately. Seeing him, he said, “What is this, Don Lope?”

“I bring you bad news, Lord King,” answered the count, kissing his hand.

Ferdinand sensed, both by his face and his manner of greeting, that the count was coming to him like a shipwrecked person to the shore. “What has happened to you?”” he asked, increasingly alarmed.

“Lord, Don García Fernández and other noblemen are besieged in Castrejón and are insistently asking your help.”

“By the Count Alvaro?”

“And also by the King of León, your father.”

“My Lady Holy Mary, help me! Besieged by my own father!”

As poor Ferdinand, overcome with dismay, covered his face with his hands, Don Lope continued: “I was there with them, and we took counsel among ourselves to decide how to notify you of our predicament. We decided that one of us would disguise himself as a commoner and come to you, as we cannot expect help from anyone else.”

“From the Creator, Don Lope, because He has always helped me,” said the young King seriously, in spite of his anguish. “Count,” he added, getting up and taking the hands of the suffering nobleman firmly into his own, “remain assured I will help my own as I must.”

Subscription12What would he do? First he would seek light where he had always found it, at the feet of “his Counselor.” He sent word to his mother that he would await her at the chapel door.

Doña Berenguera was frightened at this unexpected request, and even more so when she noticed that he was suffering from a profound mental disturbance.

“Mother,” he said simply in a low and disturbed voice, “the King of León, my father, has besieged Don García and other noblemen in Castrejón.”

He remained silent, lacking the courage to resolve the dilemma: either take up the sword against his father or abandon his subjects. She joined her hands and lowered her head in dismay, for the first time in her life unsure of what advice to give him. For a few moments mother and son remained like this, mute as if petrified. Finally, Ferdinand broke the silence, saying, “Let us go to my Counselor because He can lead us out of this predicament.”

Kneeling before the altar, Ferdinand looked fixedly and in anguish at Christ. Little by little, his face became serene, and when, a half hour later, he touched Doña Berenguera lightly on the shoulder to prompt her to leave, his eyes already reflected a firm and certain confidence.

“I repent now of my little faith, as Christ is a very noble King. He does not want me to become discouraged through lack of confidence in Him. I must defend my own, but do not worry.”

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Sr. Maria del Carmen Fernández de Castro Cabeza, The Life of the Very Noble King of Castile and León, Saint Ferdinand III (New York: The Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc., 1987), 55-60.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 431

[to be continued]



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