After last year’s c’est la vie we finally made it. Arrived too late to collect a scarf but probably a little bit too early for the procession, still we got a parking space. We were not too sure what to expect but after the beautiful parade at São Brás we were hopeful, after all the ‘Feast of the Sovereign Mother’ is the one everyone seems to talk about.
Viva a Mãe Soberana!
Viva a Senhora da Piedade!
Viva os Homens do Andor!
Viva os Homens da Banda!
The ‘Feste Grande’ is when the farewell is made, and the Sovereign Mother is carried back to her sanctuary. The sculpture dates back to the late 16th/early 17th century and her sanctuary from 1533. There is now a new church beside the old chapel, and both are worth a visit if you are in the vicinity. Here’s my post from a previous visit.
One of the things we noticed yesterday and have observed at other events is the low police presence given the size of the crowds, and also how few street vendors there are for an outdoor event in the centre of a town. So unlike England; the umbrellas though felt very English! Fortunately the umbrellas were not needed for very long, and the usual lovely Algarvian sunshine soon returned. We were not 100% sure what this gentleman was grilling, possibly octopus, he was doing a roaring trade.
Yesterday though the focus was all on the Sovereign Mother and her journey back. The festivities began with religious ceremonies in the centre of town, before the ‘Homens do Andor’ arrived to take her back.
Accompanied by the GNR on horseback, majorettes, the scouts and two wind bands they made their way through the centre of Loulé before ascending to her Sanctuary in Nossa Senhora da Piedade. Oh I forgot to mention they are all also accompanied by hundreds of local people and many from further afield as this is one of the largest, if not the largest religious festival in Portugal.
For photographs of the climb and return to the sanctuary pop across to the Mãe Soberana facebook page. I know everyone has one these days! We certainly enjoyed our early evening in Loulé but to be honest we preferred the intimacy of the Blessing of the Sea here in Olhão da Restauração and the sheer joy and beauty of the Festa das Tochas Floridas in São Brás de Alportel. It is however quite a feat to carry the 600kg statue through town, down two hills and then up a very steep one!