Saint Anthony Traditions

There are many traditions that surround the life of Saint Anthony and the miracles that he performed. These traditions are ingrain with the older and deeply religious Portuguese population while younger Portuguese are more than happy to celebrate his feast day with a week long party of drinking, dancing and eating sardines. To read about the church dedicated to Saint Anthony please click here.

Saint Anthony Tradition 1

On the 13th June the Mother Collects Bread from the Church of Saint Anthony.

This tradition originates from Italy when a mother lost her child in a deep lake. The distraught mother mourned the loss of the young child and as part of the bereavement process went to pray with Saint Anthony. While in his presence she murmured that if she was reunited with her child she would donate bread to the weight of the all the poor child in the region. Saint Anthony on hearing this advised her to search the lake again.

The women retraced her steps and searched the banks of the lake and miraculously found her child cold, shivering and cowering under under a large rock. The women kept her promise to Saint Anthony and donated vast quantities of bread to the poor children of the region. This tradition continues in Lisbon were the mother (or oldest female of the family) attends the feast day service of Saint Anthony and collects bread for her family to bring safety and security to them all.

Saint Anthony Tradition 2

During Popular Saint Festivities Sardines are Grilled and Enjoyed by Lisbon

On Saint Anthony’s first missionary expedition to the south of France his efforts were highly unproductive with few converts and in desperation he went down to the sea to pray. On starting his prays the sea was full of fish and he took this as a sign from God. On Anthony’s return the town quickly converted and this was all thanks to the fish. The connection between the fish and sardines is tenuous except that the Portuguese love sardines!

Saint Anthony Tradition 3

Unmarried Women Black-Mail Saint Anthony

Unmarried women seeking a good partner purchase a small statue of saint Anthony. With this statue they bury him in the ground and will only dig him out after they find (with his help) a good partner. This could be regarded as blackmailing Saint Anthony to find a suitable partner for marriage. Once Anthony has worked his magic and partner is found the statue is removed from the ground and kept close to the happy couple, poor saint Anthony.

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Saint Anthony Church The Alter of the Igreja de Santo Antonio, Lisbon Saint Anthony