Her first king, Don Alfonso Henriques, a man eminent not only for his military prowess but also for his truly Christian life, had a very marked love for the Angels, notably for his Angel Guardian and for St. Michael, the prince of the heavenly host.
Sometime after the king had taken the Moorish fortress of Santarém, the Moorish host, under the command of their monarch, made a formidable attack on the city in the hope of reconquering it. At the time king Afonso was suffering badly from a wound in one of his legs so that he could not mount his horse. He insisted, however, on getting into a chariot and joining in the fight. A legend says he saw an arm grasping a sword and also a wing, which showed him that an Angel was with him.
This sword protected the person of the king and wrought dreadful havoc among the Moors, who fled in terror, leaving the Portuguese masters of the field. The Moorish captives taken in the battle declare that they too had seen the Angel. In gratitude, the king founded a military Order which he called the “Order of the Wing” in honor of St. Michael and the Angels.