Santo AntÃ³nio after Santo AntÃ³nio
June is gone and so is the smell of sardines around the city. This is an exhibition for those who couldn’t make it to the traditional Lisbon procession
This space is one of the best things to appear in Lisbon in recent times: a charming ground floor in an Art Nouveau building, with characterically bent iron, 1900’s fashionable curved, and glass, transformed into a temporary exhibitions gallery, which EGEAC (the public enterprise in charge of the oficial cultural offer, in Lisbon) manages according to most important dates of Lisbon's cultural life.
Running until September 30, the present exhibition is dedicated to the Procession of St. Anthony of Lisbon (Santo António de Lisboa), putted together as if it were (as it is in reality), up and down the hill of Alfama. As figurines we can find the clay dolls by Baraça brothers, from Barcelos, 300 naïve statuettes that realistically portray the anonymous devotees and other Lisbon personalities, of greater or lesser social importance.
The procession of St. Anthony - not this one, the other, the true one - takes place every year on June 13, the day consecrated to the Saint, and marks the calendar of the city's festivities since the 18th century.
It is a genuine demonstration of faith and devotion, and it is not uncommon for folk to experience some exaggerated mystical ecstasy, even on more than one occasion miracles have been reported, like a spinning sun or the sky changing colours. And these occasions are not so few, often described on the press the day after the procession.
This Santo António de Lisboa is the same one of Padova, where he studied and where is buried in the Basilica named in his honour. He was a Franciscan friar and it was in Padua that he distinguished himself as a learned orator and friend of the poor and needy, he was a Franciscan, after all.
But if in Padova António shines like a famed Doctor of the Church, academic and austere, in Lisbon - where he was born, at a house now concealed by his church, next to Lisbon Cathedral - the saint has a reputation for being flirtatious, arousing girls nearby the water fountains, causing them to break their water jugs, in the panic rush.
For this reason, on the day of St. Anthony, is held a popular party, the Brides of St. Anthony, when a multiple marriage is celebrated in his church, concurred by hundreds of brides and grooms, from whom a small group is chosen, cause Church of Saint Anthony is not that big.
Through this gallery there have already been several exhibitions, always on a theme relevant to the city at a certain time: it was like so with Sardines - also about the June festivities - and the little show about Bordallo Pinheiro genius, appealing us to go and know better the Museum that the city dedicates to him, at Campo Grande.
Now you know, if you missed this year’s procession, go and see the exhibition and work up an appetite for the real experience, next year.
EGEAC temporary exhibitions gallery
Largo de São Julião, near Town Hall
In front of Museu do Dinheiro (Money Museum), that also deserves a visit
More info here.
Images by the reporter.
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