Faces of Lisbon, Portugal

Nossa Senhora da Saúde Procession – Lisbon Portugal

This is the story of a public procession honoring “Our Lady of Health” in Lisbon, Portugal on Sunday, May 6, 2018.

I see that my blogging has been silent for over two months now.   Marcy and I have been working on our image galleries day and night and with pressing day job requirements, I have not had the time to keep up this end of things. I was prompted to attend to my site by a message that indicated the server was down, so while I was working on that issue, I decided to look at the blog drafts that I had in the queue.

This blog story of our visit to Portugal and Spain was at the top of the heap of false start drafts.  It was one that I intended to tell in a big way, but I could not focus on the writing and producing. Along with the writing,  I had a YouTube video in the works that showcased the procession, so I stopped everything to finish that first so I could include a link to that at the end of the blog.  

We have been so blessed to be able to go on these trips and are intent on doing our traveling now, while we still can. So after mulling over the winter offers from Gate1, we settled on the Iberian Peninsula package.   Even though Gate1 has given us some great experiences,we figured that this tour could not top previous ones, but it turned out to be as wonderful as the others.  

We traveled overnight through Atlanta to Madrid then to Lisbon to start our tour in Portugal, and on a Sunday morning in early May, we dropped exhausted into our hotel, thrilled with a nice room overlooking the town square. As we were getting settled, we could see that some sort of event was in the works below, so we asked our concierge and he told us about the religious procession set for the afternoon.   This would be an opportunity for pictures, so these two weary explorers suddenly found new energy and began plotting our strategy before heading out.

Really, the entire event came and went before we really knew the significance, and it wasn’t until we did some Googling afterward that we really understood what was going on.   With military bands, along with the cardinal of the archdiocese, the president of the republic, the mayor and just about anyone who wanted to fall in line (Including Marcy and me), the procession was something to behold.   It seemed that a good many of the people of Lisbon turned out. 

Everyone involved took their role seriouly.  Participants were organized according to various groups and societies, and paraded their patron saints along the prescribed route, marching in solemn time to military bands playing melancholy tunes.  The featured patron sait icon, of course, was “Our Lady of Good Health”, but we also saw Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost and stolen items as well as other figures of saints whose significance and names were lost to us.

This was the first time in our travels that we were able to immerse ourselves among a local common crowd.  I’m sure the people and cultures of other countries are just as warm, welcoming and interesting, but we never had the chance to stray from the tourist places and really get immersed in a local event like this.

The melancholy marching music was the most striking part of the affair.   Portugal, especially Lisbon has a history of mournful, sad music called fado and I later pondered if the marching music was patterned after that.   You can judge for yourself in the YouTube video. I don’t like to be intrusive with photography, but I must have looked like a media person because the people guarding the route invited me under the barrier tape for close-ups, for which I am grateful.

We watched old veterans marching and wondered about their service.  It did not occur to me that Portugal engaged in wars of independence with their colonies.  I had to head over to Google to learn that from 1961 to 1974, the Portuguese regime fought in theatres of operation against Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique.   After a military coup in 1974 and a resulting move to democracy, the wars ended almost immediately.

The entire procession ended with a grand ringing of bells and many of the crowd fell in behind the main procession and began singing some melancholy Portuguese song.  While this happened, we noticed a bearded young street preacher standing on the main corner.  With Bible in hand, he loudly proclaimed his message toward the participants of the procession (You will need to see the pictures below).  The police showed up quickly and stood nervously nearby. 

The Nossa Senhora da Saúde Procession was indeed a great way to start our trip  There are many stories that demand telling, but I wonder if I will ever have the time. 

With all this set-up I now give you the pay-off.   A long scroll of some of our favorite pictures from the event,  followed by a YouTube video at the end

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