Expat Magazine

Igreja Antiga De São Bartolomeu Do Mar, Esposende

By Gail Aguiar @ImageLegacy

Igreja Antiga de São Bartolomeu do Mar, Esposende

This little church with the big name in the municipality of Esposende (north of Porto), along the Caminho de Santiago, has quite a history. We came across it by chance, chugging along the N13 on our way to Minho last month when I spotted the tiles on the façade.

“Stop the car! I want to photograph the church!”

Even after a pit-stop to take pictures, my long-suffering husband had to ask the name of the church from someone heading to mass, because we couldn’t find a name anywhere. It wasn’t until I went online that I found out São Bartolomeu do Mar (St. Bartholomew of the Sea) is not even a parish anymore — as of 2013, it’s been rolled up into a new, combined parish with the even lengthier name of União das Freguesias de Belinho e Mar.

The church itself looks newly-renovated, but my search for info on restoration work continues. According to the parish website, the foundation is from medieval times, the rest built in the seventeenth century and converted into its current incarnation between 1909-1912.

What is even more interesting, however, is the local superstition which dates to 16th century: children are rid of “evils” by an ancient annual ritual called banho santo (holy bath), i.e., getting dunked in the sea an odd number of times (at least three) on August 24, during the festival of the patron saint Bartholomew. Then they are to make three trips around the church holding a black rooster. Those poor kids!

Igreja Antiga de São Bartolomeu do Mar, Esposende

Igreja Antiga de São Bartolomeu do Mar, Esposende

Igreja Antiga de São Bartolomeu do Mar, Esposende

Igreja Antiga de São Bartolomeu do Mar, Esposende

February 28, 2016
Album: Portugal [Winter 2015/2016]


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