Blessed Gundisalv from Lagos - 14th October

Blessed Gundisalv from Lagos provides evidence of the presence of the Augustinian order with Portugal where, from the time of the Order’s establishment, this was sown in various convents. These convents maintained their presence in the Portuguese kingdom until they were suppressed in the XIX century. Gundisalv was born in the city of Lagos, in the south of the country in 1360, into a family of fishermen. Detailed information about his life is scarce, but we do know that he joined the Augustinians in the capital, Lisbon.

From the outset he showed a great ability for study, and in this he was much encouraged by his superiors. Nonetheless, he chose a future that was more akin to humility. In fact. We know that he declined the title of Master of Theology (which was the highest grade that one could reach), and he devoted himself more to teaching the lower classes of his time: the poor; orphans; and widows. Within his community he was a man of peace, the result of a life of prayer and penance that he lived. Indeed, mercy, serenity and mortification were the pillars of his personal spirituality.

He was chosen as prior of various communities and always demonstrated a spirit of impartiality and fidelity towards the observance of the Regulation of St. Augustine as regards both himself and those whom he was chosen to lead. Based on the little information we have about Gundisalv, it appears that he was well qualified in art as a calligraphist and he used to work in designing coral manuscripts. On 15 October 1422 he was received by his Creator whom he loved so much throughout his lifetime. This saintly fame accompanied him throughout his life, and this did not fail to continue after his death.

Pope Pius VI confirmed his cult in 1778 according him the title of blessed. He is recognised as the principal patron of his city of birth, Lagos, where a monument in his honour stands overlooking the city and the entire bay area, with Gundisalv blessing all and showing the crucified Jesus whom he evangelised throughout his life. His remains are venerated as the patron of fishermen and seafarers in the south of Portugal.

The life of B. Gundisalv, although lacking much detail, offers us sufficient elements so that every Christian can find in him a model: submission to the will of God; humility and communion with brethren. Let us hope that his intercession will help the Order continue to sow new vocations in the land of Portugal.

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