In the city of Lamego, in the district of Viseu, the oldest pilgrimage in the country takes place on September.
The traditional festivals in honor of the patron saint of the city of Lamego date back to the 14th century, more specifically to the year 1361, when the then Bishop of Lamego instituted the cult of Santo Estêvão. At the top of Monte dos Fragões, today Monte de Santo Estêvão, the name given to it exactly by the foundation of the chapel, a chapel was built by this Bishop in honor of this holy martyr. This location allowed the illustrious prelate to see it from his Episcopal palace, a building that is currently occupied by the Museum.
At that time, there were two processions a year to Sto. Estêvão: one in May, on the day of Santa Cruz and another on the 3rd of August, the day of St. Stephen. The pilgrimages continued like this until 1564, when a new chapel dedicated to the cult of Our Lady of Remedies was built, an image that the same Bishop will have ordered to come from Rome at his own expense.
The oldest reference on the Feasts in honor of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios is from 1711. It all started, precisely, with the novena, which still remains today from August 30 to September 7. Pilgrims with a lot of devotion arrive into the night from all parts of the city and go to the Mother´s house.
On September 6th, the Grand Luminous March takes place, which consists of a parade of floats through the main streets of the city, illuminating the night with the brightness and animation of this day. The next day, September 7, the Flower Battles takes place which, just like the previous day, floats parade through the city streets, but with a small difference: as it is done during the day, the lights are replaced by paper with all the colours, which gives the feeling that flowers are flying through the air. On this same day, the Great Night of the Pilgrimage takes place, where there are people on the streets with popular traditions, challenge with songs, drums and concertinas, this night is commonly known by the Lamecenses as “Noitada”, (Long Night) where they roam the streets until sunrise, living with the friends, enforcing the tradition.
But the highest moment of this celebration is the Majestic Procession of the Triumph, held on September 8, in which the walkers who cross the Church of Chagas until the Church of Santa Cruz, display sacred images transported by oxen, as tradition dictates . At this time, the streets are richly decorated, gaining a new dynamic, where the religious component acquires all its fullness.
A curiosity: The Procession of Triumph has a special authorisation from the Vatican, because it is the only one in the world where you can see an image of the Virgin carried by animals.