Today is Saint Valentine’s day and we see shops, restaurants, supermarkets promoting this special event for the most passionate hearts. But do you know that in Portugal we have another saint to celebrate love? Let’s find out who and why in this special article dedicated to our matchmaker saint: Saint Anthony.
Today is the 14th of February, Saint Valentine’s day. It is the day for couples to celebrate their union with that special candle light dinner or a box of chocolates. Lisbon is for itself a romantic city with a perfect set to celebrate saint Valentine’s day, but do you know that as a tradition, it is not saint Valentine the patron saint of love but Saint Anthony? Not only in Portugal but also in other countries influenced by the Portuguese culture. In Brazil, for example, the 14th February is not even celebrated but Saint Anthony’s day which is on the 13th June. If you visit Lisbon during the month of June you will witness the lively festivities dedicated to the saint and you will see how much he is loved by the locals. Who is he and why is he our matchmaker saint?
Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon back in 1191 and died in Padua, Italy in 1231. He is in the Guinness book of records because he was the quickest man to become a saint a few weeks after his death. As a tradition he is the saint for the lost causes and objects and he also gives a hand for the single ladies to find the one. And this is thanks to this legend: A long, long time ago a very beautiful girl was almost loosing hope in finding a husband and turned to Saint Anthony as a last resort. The girl got a small statue of the saint and put it in an oratory. Everyday she picked up fresh flowers and offered them to the saint praying and wishing strongly a good husband. Weeks, months and years went by and no husband was found. Sad and sorrowed for the saint’s ingratitude she threw the statue through the window. In that exact moment, a handsome man was walking by and was hit by the statue. He picked it up and gave it back to the girl and they fell immediately in love. – You’re now imagining the perfect Disney song for the moment, right?
Since then, the single ladies who want to get married, pray to the saint and the this story taught them different rituals to perform against the statue of Saint Anthony like turning it upside down of towards the wall as punishment. There are even statues in which it is possible to steal baby Jesus from the saint, asking for a husband as ransom.
If it works we don’t know. We only know that you can hear this and many other stories while doing a walking tour in Lisbon with us! Have a nice and beautiful day dedicated to love, with Valentine or Anthony.