Saint Anthony patron of Lisbon
Saint Anthony patron of Lisbon is celebrated on 13 July with popular festivities like Marchas Populares Parade and the wedding event Noivos de Santo António
Saint Anthony is the saint patron of Lisbon, the Portuguese capital where he was born Fernando Martins de Bolhões on 15 August 1195, where he found his religious calling and where he adopted the name of Anthony after joining a small hermitage in Olivais, one of the city’s districts. So, before continuing with my description on St. Anthony, let me give you a word of advice: if you came to Lisbon and call him St. Anthony of Padua, as he is many times named (wrongly of course, because he just died there!), instead of St. Anthony of Lisbon, be certain that no local will be willing to forgive you the mistake. After all we take our saint patron very, very seriously! So seriously that the 13th of June is a municipal holiday devoted to him and the celebrations of our saint are also the city’s official celebrations.
On the eve of June 12th, Lisbon dresses up to honour its saint patron. Each year, Avenida da Liberdade, the iconic avenue in the heart of the city, is the stage of Marchas Populares, a traditional parade of groups of dancers from the different Lisbon districts. Marchers look magnificent on their handmade impressive costumes, dancing cheer and elaborated choreographies to the sound of their marchas, theme songs evoking Lisbon, competing for the title of best Marcha of the year, the highest distinction a Lisbon district may achieve. The parade traditionally ends with a beautiful firework show.
However, the party is just beginning! All night long, throughout the city there is traditional dancing, grilled sardines, pork steaks and caldo verde soup to help you recover the energy, all accompanied with a glass of the wonderful Portuguese red wine or a refreshing imperial, Lisbon’s draft beer.
St. Anthony is also the saint patron of marriage thanks to his ability to reconciling angry couples, therefore boys are supposed to buy their girlfriends a Manjerico (a vase with basil, decorated with four verses of popular poetry) as a proof of their love. To celebrate this matchmaker side of St. Anthony, Lisbon municipality organizes the event Noivos de Santo António (Grooms and Brides of St. Anthony), offering a free wedding at the Lisbon Cathedral to several young couples coming from poor backgrounds of the city. Of course, the wedding takes place on June 13th and is followed by many locals and tourists eager to take part on one of the ancient traditions linked to Saint Anthony patron of Lisbon.