In 1808 Juan VI, then Prince-Regent of Portugal, fearing Napoleon I, made his escape to Brazil; and in 1815, was crowned monarch of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarve. Recalled to his country by the Cortes of Portugal, he sailed back to Lisbon in 1821. And now, a very interesting document, containing neither more nor less than the appointment of long-dead St. Anthony to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Portuguese army, by this Prince, is just published in the Lisbon paper Revista Militar. The following is a verbatim translation from the Portuguese of this unique proclamation:
“Don Juan, by the will of God, Prince-Regent of Portugal and both Algarve, of the two seas on both sides of Africa, Ruler of Guinea, and master of navigation and commerce in Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India, etc., etc., etc. By the present we declare to all whom it may concern that, in consideration of our special devotion to the very glorious St. Anthony, who, moreover is constantly addressed in all their needs and in full faith by the inhabitants of this capital, and likewise for the reason that the belligerent powers of our armies are evidently under the protection and enjoying the blessing of God, and that thus the peace of Portugal is ensured—a propitious result which, we are firmly persuaded, is solely due to the powerful intercession of the said Saint—we have resolved: to confer upon him the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and an adequate salary, which will be received by him in the shape of our royal decorations and orders (forma das minhas reaes ordens), through the office of Field-marshal Xaviers Cabra da Cunha, who in his capacity of General-Adjutant, is now temporarily holding the office of Commander-in-Chief of our armies. So be it. The said salary to be entered in the official books, and to be paid regularly at each term. In assurance of the authenticity of the present we herewith sign it with our name, and stamp it with the large seal bearing our arms. Given in the city of Rio de Janeiro, August 31st, A.D. 1814.”
We may add that this is not the first time that deceased saints have been appointed to high military positions. Saint Yago, in his capacity of Captain-General, received for years his salary from the Spanish Treasury, it being turned over by him (?) to the Church bearing his name.