Chapter 18 The Friars Minor

“Oh, sorry. Queen Urraca, do you remember the five Friars?” I ask.

“Yes, I do. I supported their mission to Morocco with a donation, and I helped them find a place to stay while they were in Coimbra. We prayed together,” she says.

“Thank you. Can anyone else corroborate what she has said?” I ask the court.

“Yes, I knew they were in Coimbra and my wife had met with them. I know she donated to their cause and bequeathed money to them in her will,” says Afonso II.

“Later, I will return to the questions concerning wills. Is there anyone else?” I ask.

“In my monastery, in Lorvão, we had a stone carved box that shows the five Friars with Queen Urraca playing a lute. The purpose of the carved box is to hold the bones of the martyred Friars. King Afonso II’s brother brought the Friars’ remains to Coimbra after the King of Morocco tortured and executed them,” says St. Teresa.

Friars Minor
The Martyrs of Morocco, Franciscan Friars Minor

“Historians say it shows the King of Morocco. But if one looks at the person on the far left, it shows a woman with a hat that resembles the kind noble women wore then. The person has the slender long neck characteristic of a woman of English heritage. The carving shows she or he is playing an instrument such as a lute. No Muslim King, in the thirteenth century, played the lute for entertainment. Muslim clerics at the time permitted only playing music if it praised Allah not for frivolous entertainment as shown. The person is showing the sole of their foot. That is an insult to Muslim people. One can only conclude that the person shown on the carving on the bone box is Queen Urraca,” says Princess Sanchia, daughter of Afonso III.

“You show your tutors are very learned, my daughter, and you have learned well,” says Afonso III.

“Yes, I agree. So we have established that Queen Urraca and at least one of the five Friars had discussions,” I say.

“Yes, I did. With the leader, Berard of Corbio,” says the Queen.

“You mean St. Berard. The five Friars are Saints,” says Saint Teresa.

“What did you and St. Berard discuss?” I ask.

“We prayed together. We prayed for the success of his mission to Morocco to convert the Muslims to Christians. He told me, that he and the other Friars prayed to become martyrs. They expected to die on their mission, be martyrs and go to heaven,” says the Queen.

“Did you discuss something else?” I asked.

“I told him I contributed to the Franciscan Order in my last will and testament, besides funding their mission to Morocco,” she says.

“No more? No discussion concerning your death or any predictions pertaining to you,” I ask.

“ Nothing I can remember,” she says.

“Where are you going with this questioning?” asks Afonso II.

“Father, please wait until you’re asked a question,” says Afonso III.

“Well in Chapter IX of the Chronicle of Afonso II it says:

‘The five Friars reached Coimbra, and were favorably received by Urraca, Queen of Portugal, the wife of King Afonso II. This princess had so high an opinion of their virtue and placed such confidence in them that she entreated them to pray to God to inform them of the time at which she should die. They promised to do so, although they considered themselves unworthy of making such a request; but they were so favorably heard, that they foretold to the Queen that they were to suffer martyrdom with all the circumstances thereof; that their relics would be brought to Coimbra, and that she would receive them honorably, after which she would be called from this world’,” says the iPhone on my command.

“It was not what happened! I never entreated them to tell me when I should die,” she says.

“There are other versions. One said whoever saw the relics of the Friars first, your husband or you, should die first. Another said you tried to trick your husband to be the first to see the relics and he should die first. The trick didn’t work; he was delayed from arriving in Coimbra because he encountered a boar and chased after it. There’s even a song written by an Englishman over six hundred years later. There is a cult that believes in the story and they have celebrations,” I say.

“This is ridiculous,” Queen Urraca says while looking at her husband who is fidgeting with one of his leprosy scars on his cheek.

“I met with them when they came to Alenquer to visit me. They did not mention the prediction although they said they met with Queen Urraca. I gave them clothing, so it was not obvious they were Christians before they traveled to Seville in Muslim Andalusia,” says St. Sanchia.

“Why would someone make up such a story?” asks Afonso III.

“Yes. Why and who?” I ask.

Read Chapter 19 The King’s Testimony