september 1. beatriz da silva, extreme lady in waiting
Beatriz was born in Cueta in north Africa, and was the daughter of Portuguese and Spanish royalty.
THE CLOSED-EYED VIRGIN
Even as a child, Beatriz was renowned for her angelic beauty. When her father commissioned an Italian artist to paint the Virgin's image for his castle's chapel, the artist felt the best model for the painting would be Beatriz herself. Beatriz obeyed her father and agreed to pose, but--out of modesty--she would not raise her eyes in the painter's presence. The resulting painting is known as "The Virgin of the Closed Eyes," and it hangs in a church in Campo Maior.
When she was 23 years old, Beatriz joined Infanta Isabel as her first lady-in-waiting. At first the queen was pleased with the murmurs that Beatriz's beauty and virtue aroused in the court, which was "plagued with intrigues" at the time. The Queen was "prone to excess," and Beatriz was a good influence on her.
When Beatriz spurned the advances of a suitor, he got even by telling Queen Isabel that Beatriz was a rival for the King's love. Queen Isabel was outraged.
Unable to bear her cousin's presence, the Queen asked Beatriz to follow her into one of the castle's cellars. There she ordered Beatriz to open a large trunk. The impassioned queen pushed Beatriz into the trunk, slammed down the lid, and locked it. (In some accounts, the Queen entraps Beatriz in a dungeon or tiny cell instead.)
While Beatriz was cramped in the trunk, the Virgin appeared; she was dressed in a white habit and scapular and a sky-blue mantle while cradling the infant Christ. Beatriz was the first person EVER to see the Virgin clad in her signature sky-blue garb. The Virgin foretold that Beatriz would live to found the Order of the Immaculate Conception. In that moment, Beatriz took a chastity vow and offered herself as the Virgin's perpetual slave.
Three days passed and Beatriz's uncle became concerned about his niece's sudden disappearance. Aware of the Queen's great envy, he feared the worst. In response to his constant pestering, the Queen invited him to see his niece. She led him to the trunk where she'd interred Beatriz, and told him to lift up the lid, delighting at the thought he'd uncover a mangled corpse. Instead, they found Beatriz alive and more resplendent than before, her face all aglow.
LONG WHITE VEIL
Once freed, Beatriz cloaked her face with a white veil for the rest of her days, choosing to remain unseen.
BOY SAINTS MANSPLAIN OF HER FUTURE
While journeying away from the Queen with the intent of fulfilling the destiny foretold by the Virgin, Beatriz encountered Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Anthony of Lisbon. Despite Beatriz's protests, these saints predicted that Beatriz would mother many children. "What we said will come to be," they said.
After 37 years in waiting, the saints were proven wrong when Beatriz finally founded her Order. The effort was helped greatly by Queen Isabel's daughter, also named Isabel, who aided Beatriz to atone for her mother's brutality. The Order abided by three short mottos: be silent and submissive in all things; become small and obscure in the eyes of God, the world, and ourselves; and become all to all by prayer, sacrifice, and labor.
BEATRIZ'S DEATH STAR
At the moment of Beatriz's death, the bystanders lifted her ever-present veil to anoint her face with oil. Her exposed face shone so brilliantly that onlookers were aghast. Then, in the middle of her forehead, a star appeared that gave out a great light and splendor. It remained there until she took her final breath.
After her death, Beatriz became the "spiritual mother" of Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, who was born 125 years later. Beatriz appeared often to Mariana as she suffered near death, foretelling that her convent would last until the world's end.