In Tomar, we visited many sites, such as the Castelo Templario and the Convento do Christo. The castle and convent are on a hill high above the city. The Rotunda within the complex was designed to allow the Templar knights to attend mass on horseback. While inside, I was overwhelmed by the monumental paintings and murals. I could not frame a video which would capture their power and beauty. The idea of horses attending mass is interesting, though. The Moors would target the horses during battle and by doing this disable the knights. Templar knights often suffered 80-90% casualties due to their manner of attack. They had taken oaths never to retreat unless ordered to do so and would attack enemy front lines in a manner that indicated their refusal to retreat. This action often caused breaches in the enemy front which could be exploited by regular troops. The Templars ended up becoming an extremely wealthy organization through receiving grants of land and organizing bank-like systems which supported pilgrims ( such as me ). Their wealth funded King Henry’s (The Navigator) efforts to organize Portugal’s Great Discoveries of the New and Old Worlds.
We took a bus to Fatima, the place where three shepherd children saw apparitions of Our Lady in 1917. During the last apparition, about 70,000 people were present and witnessed the miracle promised by Our Lady — they saw the sun become a silver disk and whirl on itself like a wheel of fire and then seem to fall toward the earth. Since that time, people have been coming to Fatima to pray. We saw a candlelight procession in the evening. This humble place, Fatima, has become a major center of pilgrimage.
Lao tsu says (chapter 8):
“The Supreme Good is like water
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It’s content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.”
I was hoping to bring something back from Fatima that would provide the spiritual nourishment that people seek. I hope that watching the video of the candlelight procession might start you off in the right direction. All those horses in the church praying before battle with so many losing their lives was a startling image but now we are back on track, thinking about the power of faith and the possibility of miracles. Lao tsu reminds us that the nourishment happens as part of the natural order of things. We don’t have to worry about it. It is as natural as water running down hill.