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Visit with H.R.H. Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, and Religious Visit to European Holy Sites Successful

 

His Majesty with T.R.H. the Duke and Duchess of Bragança as well as the Bishop of Sao Tome (taken at the Duke’s palace in Lisbon, Portugal)

December 31 , 2006 -- An opportunity to visit the holy sites of one’s faith can often be the highlight of a lifetime. His Majesty the King recently fulfilled this long-held wish through a visit to Portugal and Spain. With Chancellor Boniface Benzinge, Secretary General Alex Montague, and his wife, Maria Montague, with the assistance of Dr. Carl Lindgren, His Majesty met with representatives of the Vatican, various aristocratic organizations, and the Portuguese royal family in the course of a trip to embrace some of the most holy sites within the Roman Catholic faith.

The seeds for the visit were planted early in 2006 when the King attended the Ball of 100 in Italy -- a gathering of 100 royal and imperial families in the world -- sponsored by Pier Felice degli Uberti. There, His Majesty met H.R.H. Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Bragança, who is the heir to the throne of Portugal. Both enjoyed the company of the other, and the Duke invited the King to partake of a religious pilgrimage in Portugal. This invitation was heartily accepted by His Majesty.

His Majesty arrived in Lisbon first, and the entourage toured the Group Sousa Pedro Industrial Park, where the King was awarded the Sousa Pedro silver medal. Additionally, he was awarded several honors from various private and corporate organizations, including a medal from the Academy of Letters and Arts, a medal from the Ex-Libris Academy, and the Lusitanian Academy of Heraldry.

One of the highlights of the trip for His Majesty was tea with the T.R.H. the Duke and Duchess of Braganza in their palace in Lisbon. The King received the Grand Cross of the Order of Our Lady of Conception of Vila Viçosa, while Chancellor Boniface Benzinge and Alex Montague received Commander rank within the same Order.

His Majesty receives entry into the Order of Vila Viçosa from H.R.H. the Duke of Bragança

His Majesty then granted the Duke and Duchess hereditary Grand Collars in the Order of the Drum while some of the Duke’s key advisors were awarded entry into various Rwandan Orders.

H.R.H Dom Duarte Pio receives the Grand Collar from His Majesty's representative, Alex Montague

H.M. the King and the Bishop of Sao Tome and Principe

From Lisbon, the entourage traveled to the international headquarters of the Royal Brotherhood of St. Michael of the Wing, Castle Ourem. They were formally guests of H.R.H. Dom Miguel de Braganza, Duke of Viseu (whom the King had previously met in Italy at the Ball of 100 as well), and Carlos Evaristo.

H.R.H. the Duke of Viseu converses with S.E. Chancellor Boniface Benzinge

As a religious pilgrimage, they toured the holy sites at Fátima, where it is believed that three shepherd children had several months of visions in 1917 from the Virgin Mary detailing future events. This special event was memorable for all, and His Majesty laid flowers at the site.

Upon the return to Castle Ourem, His Majesty visited Saint Anne's Oratory, the holy relic museum, and officially inaugurated a new art exhibit there called The Many Faces and Lands of Prester John. This exhibit contained an abundance of Portuguese visual depictions of greater Africa with a focus on Rwanda. The artwork was striking and fully engaged the viewers; the efforts of Master H. Mourato, an acclaimed artist, were particularly interesting to view. The King was also presented with an award from this association of artists.

For those not familiar with the legend of Prester John, a brief history is warranted. The following comes from Wikipedia:

“The legend of Prester John (also Presbyter John), popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries, told of a mythical Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Written accounts of this kingdom are variegated collections of medieval popular fantasy. Reportedly a descendant of one of the Three Magi, Prester John was said to be a generous ruler and a virtuous man, presiding over a realm full of riches and strange creatures, in which the Patriarch of Saint Thomas resided. His kingdom contained such marvels as the Gates of Alexander and the Fountain of Youth, and it even bordered the Earthly Paradise. Among his treasures was a mirror through which every province could be seen, the fabled original from which derived the "mirror literature" of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, in which the prince's realms were surveyed and his duties laid out: see Speculum in medieval titles like the Speculum maius of Vincent de Beauvais, the Mirrour of the Blessed Lyf of Iesu Christ (about 1400) and A Mirror for Magistrates (1559), and other works. At first, Prester John was imagined to be in India; tales of the "Nestorian" Christians' evangelistic success there and of Thomas the Apostle's subcontinental travels as documented in works like the Acts of Thomas probably provided the first seeds of the myth. After the coming of the Mongols to the Western world accounts placed the king in Central Asia, and eventually Portuguese explorers convinced themselves they had found him in Ethiopia. Prester John's kingdom was the object of a quest, firing the imaginations of generations of adventurers, but remaining out of reach. He was a symbol to European Christians of the Church's universality, transcending culture and geography to encompass all humanity, in a time when ethnic and interreligious tension made such a vision seem distant.”

The next day, the group dined at the Casa Alta Royal Lodge (High House), which was the Dower House of Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England and Scotland, with the Real Confraria Eno Fila Gastronomica Medieval Instituto d’ Alfonsso IV, Conde d’ Ourem, which is the wine club of the royal family of Portugal. There His Majesty sampled the first bottles of a new type of wine grown there called medieval wine, which is a mixture of 20-30% red wine with special white wine additives.

A subsequent day brought a special viewing of a famous Portuguese piece of architecture. His Majesty and the entourage explored the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória na Batalha in the Portuguese town of Batalha. Its gothic look and construction is hailed as one of the masterpieces of the late Gothic style, and it has an abundance of gables, spires, pinnacles and buttresses.

While in Batalha, the King visited the Tome of the Unknown Soldier in Portugal and paid tribute there. After this visit, the Mayor of Batalha threw a reception for the group at the Alcobaca Royale Cistercian Monastery; here His Majesty was presented honorary membership in the Royal Honor Guard of Portugal.

During his stay in Portgual, His Majesty was also granted the Cross of Sao Tome by the Bishop Dom Abilio Rodas de Sousa Ribas C.S.Sp. But perhaps the most stirring experience of the trip occurred when His Majesty and the entourage received entry into The Most Prestigious Brotherhood of the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Noble City of Lisbon, a group which is charged with protecting the Pope's sacrament from contamination. Further honors consisted of a Patron of the Vatican Museum award extended to the entourage and Grand Cross ranks in the Duke of Braganza’s Order of Saint Michael on the Wing, one of the most prestigious honors in the royal pantheon of Portuguese orders.

His Majesty’s entry into the Most Prestigious Brotherhood of the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Noble City of Lisbon

His Majesty was further honored with the creation of a Portuguese society created in thanks for his recognition (as a formerly seated sovereign) of honors bestowed on the society members by the Duke of Braganza. The Prester John Society, as the association is named, was created to provide charitable and humanitarian financial support for the King’s endeavors.


A celebration of the above blessed occasion was hosted by Father John Guilbert Mariani S.O.L.T. at the Casa Alta Royal Lodge.
While in Portugal, a television show similar to 60 Minutes in the United States interviewed His Majesty about a variety of topics. The message most strongly conveyed and felt by the King was that people -- ALL people -- have a right to determine their government. His Majesty feels very strongly about this, especially as it relates to the lands of Rwanda. That is, he would only return to rule if a majority of the citizens of Rwanda voted for his return in that capacity. This broadcast of the King’s perspectives on the inherent sovereignty of people to choose their form of government was re-broadcast many times on both Portuguese and Spanish television stations.


The entourage next traveled to Spain. His Majesty was received with a luncheon provided by the Grand Heraldry Society of Spain, including a private tour with the Bishop of Madrid; the Bishop was later awarded entry into the Order of the Lion.
Another highlight of the trip was His Majesty met with the Duke of Seville, and two exchanged gifts. Also the Duke of Seville, on behalf of his nephew, Don Enrique Ignacio de Borbon y Garcia de Lobez, Marques de Vallcarlos and Grandee of Spain, presented His Majesty King Kigeli V an honor.

H.G. the Duke of Seville (seated), Montague (standing), Montague (standing), His Majesty (seated), and the Bishop of Sao Tome (seated)

Shortly thereafter, His Majesty had business that required him to return to the United States, and he was accompanied by Chancellor Boniface Benzinge. Secretary General Alex Montague and Maria Montague ended the trip with a visit with the United States Ambassador to Spain, Eduardo Aguirre Reyes, Jr. The ambassador received a gift from His Majesty, a Grand Cross rank in the Order of the Crown.

U.S. Ambassador to Spain, The Hon. Eduardo Aguirre, his wife Tere Aguirre, Maria Montague, and Secretary General Alex Montague

All in all, the trip was an emotionally fulfilling religious endeavor for the King and his entourage, and it further was a tribute to the good relations with other royal families of the world that His Majesty enjoys.

This is the full traveling party in Portugal.

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