Franciscan Saints

23rd January

The Servant of God Zachary of Alemquer

confessor, First Order

The saint for the day, Zachary of Alenquer is interesting for the lack of information concerning him, what
I have here comes from perusing ‘The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi, by Father Candide Chalippe,
and Habig of course.

It was when our little Father Francis sought an audience with Pope Innocent III that he came across
Zachary of Rome and another disciple named William, an Englishman, Francis was preaching at the time
when approached by them to enter the Order. William was to replace John de Capella who had left the
Order while Friar Zachary, as he was to be known went on to be a Missionary Priest.
Friar Zachary distinguished himself in the Order by his deep piety and ardent love of God and neighbour
so Francis considered him a fitting emissary for the Order in other countries.
Initially Zachary was sent to Spain with several other brothers, they were not very successful in Spain
though Zachary did have the opportunity to found a new convent. Continuing to Portugal where they
succeeded after much initial suffering.

Fr. Candide Chalippe writes in his Life and Legend of St. Francis of Assisi:

“But Queen Urraqua, the wife of Alphonso II, who then reigned, was a most pious princess. She, having caused
their Institute to be examined by very learned men, and having had full assurance of the holiness of their lives,
now obtained leave from the king for their being received into his states, and permission for their building
convents. A house was given them, with a chapel attached to it, of St. Anthony, near Coimbra, where the court
then was, and subsequently one on a larger scale at Lisbon. Princess Sancia, the daughter of Sancho I, and sister of
Alphonso II, highly praised by historians for her piety and chastity, protected Zachary, and gave him a third house,
called of St. Catharine, at some distance from the Town of Alenquer, which was her own; but in consequence of
the distance and the insalubrity of the air, she some years after converted her own palace into a convent, which
she gave to the Friars Minor.”

It was at Alenquer where Friar Zachary resided and died as Guardian.

Habig records in his Franciscan Book of Saints, that the Powers of Zachary’s prayers were remarkable, that once
when there was no food in the convents at Coimbra, Lisbon and Alenquer he nevertheless bid all the Friars to sit
down at table as usual while he prayed before a crucifix and shortly a charming young man appeared at the door
of their convent in Alenquer bringing with him just enough white loaves of bread for each religious there.

On another occasion a man came to him and registered his deep doubts in the Real Presence in the Blessed
Sacrament, such doubts that he could not rid himself of them. Zachary instructed him endlessly in this matter to no
avail, finally Zachary asked the man to attend Mass which Zachary was to say the following morning.
Habig writes for us “In answer to the devout prayer of his faithful servant, our Lord deigned to show himself to the
doubting man as the Sacrificial victim, from the time of the Consecration to the Communion, whereupon all his
doubts vanished.

The remainder of Zachary’s life was marked by his miracles while the Franciscan Order continued to spread
through Portugal.

Prayer of the church

Let the ears of Thy mercy, O Lord, be open to the petition of

Thy suppliants; and that Thee mayest grant their desires, make

them to ask what is pleasing to Thee.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen

 Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed.,  The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois,

*The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi, by Father Candide Chalippe,
release date August 2004, original text in the public Domain


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