July 25th is the feast of Santiago Matamoros, "St. James the Moor-Slayer", the patron saint of Spain. In honor of St. James - and calling to mind a former day and time when men of God had not yet started down the desolate path of "dialogue" with Islam - we bring you this marvelous little passage from the life of St. Fernando III.
Fernando III (r. 1217-1252), King of Castile and later of Leon and Galicia, won back more territory from the Moors than any other Spanish monarch of the Reconquista. In the passage quoted below, St. Fernando is speaking to his mother, Queen Berenguera, about his desire to make war on the Moors. This decision, which St. Fernando formulated around Pentecost, 1224, Fernando said was "revealed by almighty God." This inspiration would lead to the campaign that would almost entirely conquer Andalusia from the Moors. St. Fernando told his mother:
"Most beloved mother and sweet lady: Of what benefit to me is the kingdom of Castile, which, though due to you by right, your generosity abdicated and granted to me; of what benefit to me is the most noble consort [Princess Beatrice of Swabia] brought from distant lands through your solicitude and labor and joined to me in marriage with indescribable honor; of what benefit to me is it that you anticipate my desires with maternal sweetness, and before I have fully conceived them, you bring them to most brilliant effect: if I am dulled by laziness, if the flower of my youth is fading away without fruit, if the light of royal glory, which already had begun to shine like certain rays, is being extinguished and annihilated? Behold, the time is revealed by almighty God, in which, unless I want to pretend otherwise like a weak and deficient man, I am able to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom kings reign, against the enemies of the Christian faith, to the honor and glory of His name. The door is open indeed and the way is clear. Peace has been restored to us in our kingdom; discord and deadly enmities exist among the Moors; factions and quarrels have broken out anew. Christ, God and Man, is on our side; on that of the Moors , the infidel and damned apostate Muhammad. What more is there to say? Most kind mother, from whom, after God, I hold whatever I have, I beg that it may please you that I wage war against the Moors" .
A great moment in interreligious dialogue indeed! St. Fernando was under no illusion of how to deal with the threat of Islam. And he had greater success against the Moors than any modern democratic nation-builder. Were another great leader to arise who, like St. Fernando, was zealous for the glory of God and the kingdom of Christ, who knows what future victories God might grant?
For more on St. Fernando III, we recommend St. Fernando III: A Kingdom for Christ by James Fitzhenry, available for purchase here.
Also related: Our very non-PC Santiago Matamoros T-Shirt, available in the Cruachan Hill webstore.
Santiago Matamoros, ora pro nobis!
Sancte Fernando, ora pro nobis!
 Joseph F. O'Callaghan, The Latin Chronicle of the Kings of Castile (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies: Tempe, AZ, 2002), pg. 88