Each year at the Cathedral of Lisbon, sixteen couples celebrate their wedding together on the eve of St. Anthony’s Day, 12th June. These are the Santo António weddings. To be able to enroll, you must apply from January to March, and at least one of the bride and groom must be a resident of Lisbon.
For one day, they will be true stars, with an interview on television and in the newspapers and a parade through the streets of the city. And they receive the honeymoon offered by the city.
This event, of great importance for Lisbon, in 2008 commemorated its 50th anniversary. It was in 1958 that, for the first time, 26 couples were united by marriage in the Church of Santo António. The aim of the initiative was to make marriage possible for couples with greater financial difficulties.
After sixteen years of well-attended editions, the tradition was interrupted in the troubled year of 1974. Thirty years later, the Lisbon City Council recovered the Santo António Weddings with the same purpose of providing the union of sixteen couples in a memorable day for their families and for all Lisboners.
Today, the Weddings of Santo António constitute an unavoidable mark in the popular tradition of Lisbon, contributing, each year, to affirm the cultural identity of the City.
The solemnity known as Corpus Christi (in Portugal called the Body of God) or the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, only gained prominence in the Liturgy in 1246, when the Bishop of Liège (Belgium) instituted the feast in his diocese. . Pope Urban IV (formerly Bishop of Liège) extended the feast to the whole Church, as a solemnity of adoration of the Holy Eucharist.
The Corpus Christi ceremony was celebrated in Portugal in the 13th century, since the reign of King Afonso III. At the time, it was a worship party, not involving the procession through the streets.
The procession rite was instituted by Pope John XXII (1317). In the Church of the Martyrs, in Lisbon, the rite of the festival with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Procession, solemn Vespers and Sermon was maintained throughout the centuries.
The Procession became the most eye-catching and interesting of all, deserving the title “Procession of Processions”.
Constituted by civic and corporate procession, with floats, picturesque figures, dances, and scenes from sacramental acts, the procession took hours to walk, becoming both a religious and a social event.
The Chambers, determining royal instructions, published Regulations or Regulations of the Procession, indicating the uses and customs, the ways of dressing, the obligations of each Corporation, the dances (among them the Judenga, or dance of the Jews), the flags and banners , the choreographies (angels, sacred figures …) and the place of the Clergy. Rare were the municipal councils that had no Party Regulations, but the most expressive memories about the Procession were in Coimbra, Porto and Lisbon.
Celebrated in Lisbon, the Feast of the Body of God included the Procession, for the first time, in 1389. These were the times of consolidation of autonomy vis-à-vis Castile and of the good atmosphere created by the warlike victories of Nuno Álvares and the British cultural influence (to the point de S. Jorge – English devotion, winner of Mal, do Dragão – to be considered Patron of Portugal).
For this reason, the Corpus Christi ceremony was joined by the feast of S. Jorge. This combination resulted in the magnificence of the capital’s Procession. The party reached surprising grandeur in the time of D. João V, incorporating the Procession, it immediately included the socio-professional associations and also the delegations of the various Religious Orders of Lisbon (Augustinians, Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans, Order of Christ .. .) and military. In the procession, the figure of S. Jorge on horseback and the Serpe, or infernal dragon (of the Chinese type, moved by extras), against which S. Jorge fought, loomed.
There were stops to represent the fame or glory of S. Jorge; and also for a series of dances. The traditional “stations” of the Blessed Sacrament were also represented, as is still done today in the Seville procession.
At the end of the procession, came the canopy, whose rods took the highest dignitaries of the Court and the Chamber, always represented by the entire Council. Under the pallio, the Bishop of Lisbon moved, showing custody with the Blessed Sacrament. He was flanked by the King, or Head of State, or similar dignitary.
A curious fact to note is the temptation to carry out attacks against royal figures, during the “Corpus Christi” procession. One of them, against the person of D. João IV. Surviving the monarch to the act, his wife (D. Luísa de Gusmão) promoted the construction of the Convento dos Carmelitas, in Baixa Lisboeta. Built in the exact place of the failed crime, it was called the “Corpus Christi”. Another famous attack took place against D. Manuel II, near the Church of Vitória, when the procession passed on Rua do Ouro.
But the 1910 legislation, banning the Church’s holy days (except Christmas and January 1), interrupted public worship, although solemn masses continued to be held in churches. In 2003, the Corpus Christi Procession went back to the streets of Baixa, where it was once held. The solemnity, presided over by the Cardinal-Patriarch, began with the celebration of Mass in the Largo da Igreja de São Domingos. The procession ended at Rua Garrett, in front of the Martyrs’ Basilica, with the Blessing of the Blessed Sacrament. More than five thousand faithful attended the Mass and procession – among them civil and military authorities.
Nowadays the celebration begins in the Cathedral before continuing on the streets of Baixa.
In the period that celebrates the resurrection of Christ, there is an element common to all tables in Portugal, the Easter folar, a delicious cake in its simplicity whose history and traditions are important to know. With one or more hard-boiled eggs on top, the most popular folar is made from a dry dough with a little bit of cinnamon and makes everyone’s delight, from the smallest to the oldest. You know, for sure, that this is traditionally offered to godchildren on Easter Sunday. The reason? A legend that associates folar with friendship and reconciliation, important values to transmit at any time of the year.
The legend of Easter folar is so old that its date of origin is unknown.
Legend has it that, in a Portuguese village, there lived a young woman named Mariana who had the only desire in life to marry early. She prayed to Santa Catarina so much that her will was fulfilled and soon two suitors appeared: a rich nobleman and a poor farmer, both young and handsome. The young woman again asked Santa Catarina for help in making the right choice.
While concentrating on her prayer, she knocked on the door Amaro, the poor farmer, asking for an answer and setting Palm Sunday as the deadline. A little while later, on that same day, the nobleman appeared to ask him for a decision. Mariana didn’t know what to do.
When Palm Sunday arrived, a neighbor was very distressed to warn Mariana that the nobleman and the farmer had met on the way to her home and that, at that moment, they were fighting a death struggle. Mariana ran to the place where the two were facing each other and it was then that, after asking Santa Catarina for help, Mariana released the name of Amaro, the poor farmer.
On the eve of Easter Sunday, Mariana was tormented, because she had been told that the nobleman would show up on his wedding day to kill Amaro. Mariana prayed to Santa Catarina and the image of Santa, it seems, smiled at her.
The next day, Mariana went to put flowers on the altar of the Saint and, when she arrived home, she noticed that, on the table, there was a big cake with whole eggs, surrounded by flowers, the same ones that Mariana had put on the altar. She ran to Amaro’s house, but found him on the way and he told her that he had also received a similar cake.
Thinking it was the nobleman’s idea, they went to her house to thank her, but he had also received the same type of cake. Mariana was convinced that everything had been the work of Santa Catarina.
Initially called folore, the cake came to be known as folar over time and became a tradition that celebrates friendship and reconciliation. During Christian Easter festivities, godchildren usually bring a bouquet of violets to the baptism godmother on Palm Sunday, and the latter, on Easter Sunday, offers him a folar in return.
Easter is only a few days away. And Portugal is a country with many traditions linked to that moment of the liturgical year.
In all regions of the country, various religious events take place throughout the holy week, which begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. In some cities, certain rituals are featured, but these same rituals can occur in several locations at the same time.
One of the most valued Easter rituals in Portugal is the Compass Pascal, performed over 500 years ago. The streets are taken by small religious groups who leave the churches with a cross and go through the houses to bless them.
The faithful who wish to receive the blessing, leave the door of the house open, with flower petals at the entrance and, if they wish, with offers of snacks. The priest rings a bell on the way to warn of the approaching procession. As he passes by, he stops at the doors of the houses with the cross so that it can be kissed by the residents, and makes the house a blessing with holy water.
In Braga, in the North, the image of Our Lady is carried by a donkey, in the Procession of the Burrinha. The city is adorned with flowers, lights, incense, motifs depicting the court and purple bands.
On Good Friday the Procession of the Burial of the Lord takes place, whose protagonists are brotherhoods, knights of the Sovereign Orders of Malta and the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, Capitulars of the See, various corporations and authorities. Everyone’s head is covered in mourning. This is the most solemn procession, for it carries the little boat of the dead Lord.
Procession of Flowers in the Algarve
In São Brás de Alportel, in the Algarve, Easter Sunday in Portugal is marked by the Hallelujah Procession, in honor of Christ’s resurrection. The men and boys make two parallel rows on the sides of the carpet decorated in the center of the street, and carry torches of colorful flowers in their hands.
Blessing of lambs (sheep) in the Alentejo
In Castelo de Vide, in the Alentejo, in addition to Easter processions in Portugal, the population accompanies the Benção dos Borregos, which takes place on Saturday in Hallelujah. This blessing was formerly used to protect the abundance of cattle breeders, and today it still symbolizes the spirit of coexistence between different peoples and cultures.
Before that event on Hallelujah Saturday, there is the Blessing of the Branches and the Procession of the Lord’s Steps, on Palm Sunday. On Holy Thursday, the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. On Good Friday the Mass of the Lord’s Passion is celebrated, and in the evening the Procession of the Burial of the Lord is done, as in Braga.
Then, another traditional rite is Chocalhada, which occurs at night, when people gather in Lageado with rattles to emit a characteristic noise that serves as a prayer during the Hallelujah Procession.
Butler of the Cross dinner in Minho
In some parishes (municipalities) in the Minho region, such as Viana do Castelo and Ponte de Lima, in addition to the traditional events mentioned above, it is common to have the Butler of the Cross Dinner. It is a banquet for all the people of that parish or neighborhood, where a butler is elected to carry the cross and pay everyone’s lunch.
Burial of Cod in Beiras
The Burial of Bacalhau is a funeral procession full of meaning at Easter in Portugal and of great cultural value. The first time it happened was in 1938, but the religious authorities were not in favor, as it meant a protest.
This tradition goes back to the 16th century, when the church completely banned meat consumption during Lent, except for the more affluent. Thus, the poor only had the option of eating fish, and cod was the most affordable of all.
So this pagan festival was created – which has a comedy tone, like a revolt by the poorest for their impotence before the authority of the church. The procession has three sermons: Life and Death of Cod, Testament of Cod and the Exéquias of Cod, which occur to the sound of Chopin’s funeral symphony.
Typical Easter food in Portugal
The Easter Folar that can be sweet or salty. This is one of the most traditional dishes that represents the typical Easter food in Portugal.
In the Minho:As in practically the entire North, in Minho it is common to end the Lenten fast with meat. Then, in addition to the kid, meat balls and meat leaf are consumed, both made with a dough filled with different meats.
In the Douro: One of the most popular main dishes in this region is the beef tenderloin, called the Easter loin, at this time of year. In addition to this meat, roast kid is very popular.
In the Beiras: In this region, the two most consumed meat dishes on Easter Sunday are roast suckling pig and cod, which occurs after the procession of Enterro do Bacalhau.
Carnival is a fun party with many traditions in several countries. But how do you celebrate Carnival in Portugal?
Unlike other places in the world, Carnival in Portugal is celebrated mainly in small villages. Let’s find out some examples:
Entrudo Race – The Schist Villages Carnival
The chanfana is a dish for a hearty lunch on Fat Tuesday, but even so, the Entrudo Race in the Schist Villages, in the middle of the Serra da Lousã, is still being done. Picking up clothes and old objects that are no longer used, the departure for the Corrida do Entrudo goes to the villages of the municipality of Góis, where everything is allowed. From blocks and verses, whose themes are closely linked to the daily lives of the inhabitants of Schist Villages, to the games played by the elders, and to the rattle of women and younger men, everyone who participates in it must wear masks made of cork and natural elements, which include horrifying and diabolical expressions.
Canas de Senhorim – A Carnival rivalry
A rivalry with more than 400 years dictates that two neighborhoods of Canas de Senhorim, Paço and Rossio, parade in disarray. The two carnival marches take to the streets first, singing songs from old marches and wearing facts alluding to Canas de Senhorim’s past. In the great carnival parade on Tuesday of Carnival, wins the one that celebrates with more joy all the devotion for your neighborhood.
The 2nd Carnival Fair is divided between the Farinhada, in which the girls who leave the house until noon are at risk of being “floured”, and the Monday of the Old Women, during the afternoon.
The Carnival ends on the 4th Ash Fair, with the Queima do Entrudo. After Batatada, the community dinner whose main dish is cod with potatoes, eggs, vegetables, bread and wine, the clown from Entrudo is taken through the streets thus making the farewell to Carnival.
Torres Vedras –
The first reference to the Torres Carnival appears in the reign of D. Sebastião, in a document dated 1574, in which a resident of the town of Torres Vedras lodges a complaint “against young men playing with a rooster Entrudo day bringing rounds, swords, sticks as they usually do “.
Reis do Carnaval and “Matrafonas”, so characteristic of Corso Carnavalesco, first appeared in the 1920s, decisively marking the history of the Torres Vedras Carnival, and assuming an eminently popular charisma, by rejecting external costumes.
A different theme each year, with the construction of a real carnival village, and floats.
For many, this is the most “Portuguese of Portugal” Carnival.
Loulé – The Algarve Carnival
The oldest Carnival in the Algarve is over 100 years old
The entertainment starts in the morning reserved for the children’s parade, and the Grand Première de Carnaval is scheduled for Monday night, in the Salão de Festas de Loulé.
Corso Carnavalesco fills the streets of this Algarve city on “fat Sunday” and on Carnaval Tuesday, with the parade of floats and extras that spread doses of contagious joy, and confetti and streamers mixed through the air.
The Trays Festival is held every four years in early July. It has origins in the Cult of the Holy Spirit, which began in the 16th century, but we can see in it traces of earlier harvest festivals, such as in the profusion of flowers and the fact that bread and ears of wheat are present on the trays.
The Procession, which is the high point of the festivities, takes place alongside a wealth of cultural and recreational events, the most important of which are the Boy’s Procession, the “Mordomos’s” Procession, the decorating of the popular streets, the popular games, the Partial Processions, the popular parties and the “Pêza”.
The Festival starts on Easter Sunday when the Crowns and Standards representing all the parishes are brought out in a processionenlivened by pipers, drummers, firework launchers and bands. From this point on, this is repeated seven times but with the Crowns and Standards of the town and just a few on the parishes each time. As children are not allowed to take part in the big procession, the Boy’s procession was created so that the children could have their own festival. The Boy’s procession is an exact copy of the adults one but it in held on the previous Sunday. Children from Nursery and Primary school take part.
On the Friday before the Main Procession there is the “Mordomo’s” Procession, simbolising the entrance into the town of the sacrificial oxen, which, in the past, would have been slaughtered, and the meat distributed to the poor. In the past this procession was called the Procession of the Holy Spirit; today it is an impressive procession of carts and people on horseback with pairs of oxen at the head.
The streets of the historic centre are closed to traffic and decorated with millions of hand made paper flowers, which represent months of intense but enthusiastic work.
On the morning of the Saturday before the Main Procession, the Partial Processions come from the parishes; hundreds of Trays that will be paraded the next day. That afternoon, the traditional popular games are held in the Municipal Stadium (races with jars and barrels, tugs of war, climbing the greasy pole, quoits).
On the Sunday, the Procession of Trays starts with the pipers and drummers. Next come the Standard of the Holy Spirit and the three Crowns of the Emperors and Kings. After that come the Standards and Crowns of all the parishes.
The Procession is an immense weaving train of colour and music, made up for hundreds of pairs: the girls in white, with a broad ribbon tied across their front, carrying the tray on their heads; the boys in white shirts with sleesves rolled up, black trousers, a berent on their shoulder and a tie that matches the colour of the girl’s ribbon.
The triumphal carts of breads, meat and wine, pulled by the symbolic sacrificial oxen, bring up the rear of the procession.
The Trays the symbol and main decorative feature of the Festival of Trays. It should be the same height as the girl who carries it. It is decorated with paper flowers, greenery and ears of wheat. It also made up with 30 bread rools of a special size, each wighing 400 grams, threaded onto 5 or 6 canes. The later emerge from a wicker basket, wich is wrapped in a white embroidered cloth, and on top it isfinished off with Cross of Christ or a Dove of the Holy Spirit, the girl’s outfit consists of a long, white dress with a coloured ribbon across the front; the boy’s one is a simple, white shirt with sleeves rolled up, dark trousers, black beret on the shoulder and a tie the same colour as the girl’s ribbon.
On the base a white sheet symbol of purity
30 loaves represented by the 30 pieces of Judas
Flowers that represent fertility and harvest (now in paper)
On the top, the cross of Christ or the dove symbol of the Holy Spirit
Only the girls can bring the Tray on the head and if the boy wants help her, can bring the Tray but on his shoulder
Christmas is an opportunity to meet with the family and the most important moment is even the dinner of the 24th where the family meets for dinner together and after waiting for the Mass du Galo that is the Mass that celebrates the birth of Jesus.
During the dinner there are several traditions that are respected and the cod cannot be missed. Depending on the region, there are also gourmet alternatives to cod
In the Algarve, rooster with cabidela (prepared by adding rooster’s blood and vinegar)
In the Beira, the pulp is very popular
Lisbon and Tagus Valley, they also eat baked turkey
Tràs-os-montes and Alto Douro, they also prepare pulp, hake and fried fish
In the Azores, there is canja (chicken broth)
In the island of Madeira traditional meat kebabs
The tradition of Christmas night is to serve boiled cod accompanied by cabbage, potatoes and steamed vegetables
On the 25th they eat the lamb or the turkey in the oven and the “roupa velha” (the old clothes) which is the mixture of cod, potato and cabbage from the previous night, with garlic and enough oil and cooked in a pan
On the Christmas table can not miss the cakes … a lot of cakes!
Of course the Bolo Rei we talked about in the previous article, but also the fried cakes.
The fries are perhaps the most traditional of Christmas and in each region there is a variation in the preparation and the recipes have been passed from generation to generation.
They are normally prepared in large quantities and ahead of time. Besides, they say that when “it smells fried, it smells like Christmas”
According to tradition, at the end of dinner the table should not be cleared and the dishes should not be washed. And dinner leftovers shouldn’t be removed from the table either. They must stay just like during dinner to respect dead family members
And which is your Christmas Tradition?
The famous Bolo Rei is one of the best known Christmas traditions in Portugal. There is hardly any Portuguese family that does not respect this tradition. Round, with a hole in the middle and filled with candied fruits and nuts, they are the delight of the whole family.
Until a few years ago, this typical cake brought a metal object that was, however, prohibited in 1999 for safety reasons – and still a broad bean (which also came out of its composition). According to Portuguese tradition, the person to whom the slice of cake was served with the broad bean was the person responsible for, in the following year, buying the Bolo Rei.
Over time, this tradition has also been adapted, and there are now several variants of this traditional Christmas candy, such as Bolo Rainha for those who don’t like candied fruit, Chocolate King Cake and even the Bolo of Rei de Gila or with apple.
The story goes that the son of Baltasar Castanheiro, owner of the National Confectionery in Praça de Figueira, during a trip to Loire, France, tasted the galette des rois for the first time and, in love with the cake and the tradition of the bean, who decided who bought the cake the following year, imported the tradition in Lisbon. Nowadays, we can try this cake more or less between November and February at Confeitaria Nacional where, on December 23, the queue shows the importance of this tradition.
In Porto, the recipe is introduced by Confeitaria Cascais, which imported the tradition directly from Paris.
With the proclamation of the republic, the cake was in danger of disappearing because of the name “king”
Other names were proposed: national cake according to the National Confectionery or ex-king cake. Republicans proposed Bolo Presidente, Bolo Republicano or even Bolo Arriaga in relation to the first president of the Republic
But the tradition of this Christmas cake, besides being Portuguese, is found in different ways in many other countries:
– Galette des rois in France in brioche version or frangipane version with almond cream
– Dreikönigkuchen (the cake of the three kings) in Switzerland
– Roscón de reyes (galette des rois) in Majorca, much like the Portuguese version
– Brioche des rois in the Provencal Alps
– Rosca de Reyes in Mexico
– King Cake in New Orleans, official Mardi Gras (Carnaval) cake with colored sugar.
– Tortell of kings in Catalonia that can be simple or filled
And what will be your Christmas cake?
Nossa Senhora da Nazaré is an image carved in wood, about 25 cm high, representing the Virgin Mary sitting on a low bench breastfeeding the Baby Jesus, with the faces and hands painted in a “dark” color. According to oral tradition, it was sculpted by St. Joseph when Jesus was still a baby, with faces and hands painted, decades later, by St. Luke. She is venerated at the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré, at Sítio da Nazaré, in Portugal.
The history of the image was published in 1609, for the first time, by Frei Bernardo de Brito, in the book Lusitanian Monarchy. This monk from Alcobaça, chronicler of Portugal, reports that he found a territorial donation from 1182 in his monastery registry, which included the history of the image, which was venerated in the early days of Christianity in Nazareth in Galilee, his hometown. From Maria. Hence the invocation of Nossa Senhora – da Nazaré. From Galilee, it was brought, in the fifth century, to a convent near Mérida, in Spain, and from there, in 711 to the Sítio (of Our Lady) of Nazaré, where it continues to be venerated.
The story of this image is inseparable from the miracle that saved D. Fuas Roupinho, in 1182, an episode that was conventionally called “the Legend of Nazaré”.
During the Middle Ages, hundreds of images of Black Virgins appeared throughout Europe, most of which, like this one, were carved in wood, of small dimensions and linked to a miraculous legend. Today, there are about four hundred of these images, ancient or their replicas, in churches across Europe, as well as some more recent ones in the rest of the world.
The true and sacred image of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré has not yet been subjected to a laboratory test to date it scientifically and in parallel to obtain confirmation of being in front of a bi-millenary image, or of a replica produced later.
Legend of Nazaré tells that at dawn on September 14, 1182, D. Fuas Roupinho, mayor of the castle of Porto de Mós, hunted along the coast, surrounded by a dense fog, close to his lands, when he saw a deer that immediately started chasing. The deer headed for the top of a cliff. D. Fuas, in the fog, isolated himself from his companions. When he realized that he was on the top of the cliff, on the edge of the cliff, in danger of death, he recognized the place. He was right next to a cave where an image of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus was venerated. He then pleaded, out loud: Our Lady, Help me! Immediately, the horse miraculously stopped, sticking its paws in the rocky boulder suspended over the void, the Beak of Miracle, thus saving the rider and his mount from certain death that would result from a fall of more than one hundred meters.
D. Fuas dismounted and went down to the cave to pray and thank the miracle. Then he sent his companions to call bricklayers to build a chapel over the grotto, in memory of the miracle, the Hermitage of Memory, to be exposed there to the miraculous image of the faithful. Before the cave was trapped, the masons undid the altar there and among the stones, unexpectedly, they found an ivory safe containing some relics and a parchment, in which the relics were identified as being from São Brás and São Bartolomeu and the story was told of the small image representing the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1377, King D. Fernando (1367-1383), due to the significant influx of pilgrims, ordered the construction of a church, near the chapel, to which the image of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré was transferred. of origin, the village of Nazaré in Galilee.
The popularity of this devotion at the time of the Discoveries was so great among the people of the sea, that both Vasco da Gama, before and after his first trip to India, and Pedro Álvares Cabral, came on a pilgrimage to Sítio da Nazaré. Among the many pilgrims of the Royal family, we highlight Queen D. Leonor of Austria, third wife of King D. Manuel I, sister of Emperor Charles V, future Queen of France, who stayed at the Site for a few days, in 1519, in an accommodation of wood built especially for this occasion. Also S. Francisco Xavier, Jesuit priest, the Apostle of the East, came on a pilgrimage to Nazaré before leaving for Goa. In fact, the Portuguese Jesuits were the main propagators of this cult on all continents.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the cult of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré was widely disseminated in Portugal and in the Portuguese Empire. Even today, some replicas of the true image are venerated and there are several churches and chapels dedicated to this invocation around the world. It is worth mentioning the image of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré, which is venerated in Belém do Pará, Brazil, whose annual party was named Círio de Nazaré and is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, reaching two million pilgrims in one day.
In Portugal, there are two matchmaking saints. One with its throne in Lisbon which is Santo António, and the other located to the north, S. Gonçalo de Amarante. In order to avoid unfair competition between the two, Santo António takes care of the younger women, while S. Gonçalo deals with the “old”. This is the popular belief, but it is not just for this reason that the church of São Gonçalo is a mandatory stop.
S. Gonçalo has the honor of Padroeiro de Amarante and his memory is celebrated on two occasions during the year: the 10th of January, the date of his death, and the first weekend of June, with the great festivities of the city.
Coming from the noble family of Pereira, Gonçalo was born in Paço de Arriconha, around 1187 and inherits from his parents nobility in blood and greatness in Faith.
He is educated in good Christian principles and, when he reaches his youth, he opts for ecclesiastical life, studying the first letters, it is believed, in the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Pombeiro de Ribavizela, that he continued his studies at the Paço Arcebispal de Braga, where he would become ordained priest. Not satisfied with his parish life and burning with the desire to visit the most holy places of Christianity, he decided to start a long pilgrimage to Rome, to be with the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and then on to Palestine.
After fourteen years, Gonçalo returns to his parish of S. Paio de Vizela, which, during his absence, was directed by a nephew who, not recognizing him, expelled him from home. Disillusioned by the opulent and lavish life of his replacement and faced with disrespect for Christian teachings and humility, he decides to abandon the parish life and opts for a more contemplative, hermitic and evangelizing modus vivendi. Take the habit of the Order of S. Domingos.
It was through this new way of life that it reached the Tâmega valley. Facing a ruined hermitage dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Assunção, located in a deserted place, next to the river and close to a vacant bridge, the old temple is installed and restored.
Bordering the villages of the Tâmega valley and Serra do Marão, Frei Gonçalo evangelizes and blesses marital unions, supports and protects the most disadvantaged and performs some wonders, which give him an aura of sanctity. In the course of these pastoral actions, he is faced with the difficulties and the danger that his faithful ran when venturing to cross the river, especially at times when it presented more flow and, in the absence of alternatives, he decides to undertake, himself, the restoration or rebuilding of the old Roman bridge, back in 1250.
For its reconstruction it will have had the participation of everyone, from the wealthiest who contributed some money and raw material and the poorest who, with their effort, carried out the work. The architect is said to have been the saint himself. The medieval bridge would last until February 10, 1763, when it succumbs to the turbulence of the waters of the Tâmega, during a flood, collapsing completely.
After the construction of the bridge and the restoration of traffic, the Dominican friar continued his life as a preacher until the day of his death, which occurred on January 10, 1259.
From then on, many were the ones who came to his tomb, installed in the same chapel where he lived to ask or thank his intercession, next to his remains.
In 1540, D. João III ordered to build, in the place of the old medieval hermitage, a convent that delivers to the friars preachers of S. Domingos, Order to which the Saint was linked.
On September 16, 1561, Gonçalo de Amarante was beatified by Pope Pius IV and, some time later, in the reign of D. Filipe I of Portugal (II of Spain), his canonization process began, which ended for having no effect.
Pope Clement X, in 1671, extends the service of his liturgical feast to the entire Dominican Order, which is celebrated on the day of his death, on 10 January.
Since then, his cult has never stopped spreading and spreading in Portugal and in the Portuguese-speaking countries, especially Brazil, where several localities have him as their patron.
So São Gonçalo is not a saint. For the Catholic Church, Blessed Gonçalo de Amarante is considered blessed. But for the population it is holy and devotion to it is not less, whatever the denomination used. His tomb, where his body is believed to be buried, can be visited in the main chapel of the monastery.
São Gonçalo is considered the “matchmaker of the old women”, which does not seem to please the younger ones who do not want to wait, and that is why the famous popular court of Amarante was born:
S. Gonçalo de Amarante,
Matchmaker of the old women,
Why don’t you marry the new ones?
What harm did they do to you?
In the church, there is still the statue of São Gonçalo, from the 16th century, in which there is the famous rope of São Gonçalo. The rope surrounds the statue’s waist and, according to popular belief, “the old women” should pull the rope three times to ask the saint for a wedding.
In conclusion, if you have passed the age to ask for help from Santo Antonio, here you have the wedding prayer for São Gonçalo:
“São Gonçalo do Amarante, Matchmaker you are, First couples to me; The other couples later.
São Gonçalo help me, On my knees I beg you, Make me marry soon, With the one I adore.
A curiosity: ”São Gonçalo de Amarante is rooted in the culture of the city Princess of Tâmega, with peculiar sweets with phallic forms, with spicy courts that and a rich history of conquests and important heroic acts in the construction of the history of Portugal. According to popular legend, São Gonçalo is a matchmaker and it is for this reason that during feasts S. Gonçalo’s “phallic sweets” are sold and appreciated, of all sizes and shapes.