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Madeira's Religious Festivals
By Patricia Corbera

On the Island of Madeira where the vegetation is lush and exotic and the climate gentle, numerous festivals take place every year, many of them steeped in religious and local traditions.

The festival of "St. Peter" takes place in Ribeira Brava on the 28th and 29th of June. It is especially well attended by local fishermen as St. Peter is their Patron Saint. There is a variety of entertainment at night featuring bonfires and colorful balloons.

The Feast of "Senhora do Monte" in Funchal is a remarkable testament of gratitude from the city's inhabitants to their Patron Saint who many years ago-according to popular belief-interceded when hunger and plague once threatened the island.

"The City Fair" on the 14th of August is basically all-night entertainment with hundreds of braziers lit for grilling food on spits, one of the best known delicacies of Maderian cooking.

The 15th of August is a national holiday and after the celebration of Mass, there is a long procession in which the devout pilgrims of "Senhora do Monte" take part as thanks for blessings received.

Recalling the terrible floods of 1803, in which the statue of Our Lord of Miracles was washed away and later found at sea by an American Galley-the pilgrimage to "Our Lord of the Miracles" takes place in Machico on the 9th of October and is always well attended.

On the evening before, there is another solemn procession of the Mourners where fishermen carry hundreds of candles and torches lighting up the night in a truly spectacular fashion.


OTHER FEASTS INCLUDE
Feast of Our Lady of Piedade - Canical
Feast of Our Lady of Graca - Near Camara de Lobos
Feast of Sao Sabastao - Camara de Lobos

The above is just a small sampling of the religious activities that are found on this lush and tropical island, known as MADEIRA.

© Patricia Corbera 2002
Article reprinted with the author's permission.


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About the author:
Patricia Corbera is a genealogist researching her ancestry on the island of Madeira. She runs a wonderful website exploring Madeiran genealogy and heritage. Her website can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/papagaia2/index.html
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