Celebrating Mothers in Portugal
If asked to give a shout to the most cherished person in the Portuguese community, say "Mãe" (mother) so you get it right. A mother, in the Portuguese culture, is the most beloved person, she holds the soul of the family, she a protector, a nurturer and has a heart big enough to “mother” her own children as well as any other child that comes into her world.
Portuguese Mother, Godmother and Grandmother; They’re All Important.
Even if she isn't the person who birthed a child, having any version of the role of mother makes a woman special. A madrinha, meaning Godmother, is a woman of great importance in the Portuguese culture. She’s the person appointed to step in as a mother should she be needed. It goes without saying that an Avó (grandmother) is worshipped on an even more beloved level. Whether it’s a mother, grandmother, or madrinha, any form of a mother is one of great importance. But of all the mothers, there’s one that remains the most beloved and revered above all in the Portuguese culture, and that’s the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Fátima.
Our Lady of Fatima; Why She’s Number One.
On May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three young shepherd children and described as a lady dressed in white, shining brighter than the sun, giving out rays of clear and intense light. During the apparition, she promised to come to the children on the 13th of each month. The apparitions happened as promised between the months of May through October of that year and took place at Cova da Iria, Fátima, Portugal. To a country of devout Catholics, there could be nothing more monumental than these apparitions by the most important of mothers, the Virgin Mary.
In the years leading up to the Marion apparitions in Fátima, Portugal had been existing in more and more of oppressed conditions. In 1911, the separation of Church and State became official. The years from 1910 to 1913 were years of terror: priests and bishops were imprisoned or exiled; religious orders were suppressed. The message brought by the Virgin Mary in Fatima were ones the country needed to hear. Although initially met with resistance by many people upon hearing of the apparitions, the events were eventually accepted with the delivery of a message the entire world needed to hear. How amazing for Portugal to be chosen for these apparitions.
The Miracle of the Sun.
During her apparitions, not only did the Virgin Mary deliver secrets to the children that were of grave importance to the world, her apparitions culminated in a miraculous event that was visible to an ever-growing crowd at Fátima. The event made an impression on believers and non-believers alike. What is called The Miracle of the Sun took place on October 13, 1917, at the exact place where the shepherd children were standing amongst a crowd of thousands of witnesses. According to an eyewitnesses account, “The sky, which had been overcast all day, suddenly cleared; the rain stopped and it looked as if the sun were about to fill with light the countryside that the wintery morning had made so gloomy. I was looking at the spot of the apparitions in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening and with diminishing curiosity because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it and now shone clearly and intensely."
“Suddenly I heard the uproar of thousands of voices, and I saw the whole multitude spread out in that vast space at my feet…turn their backs to that spot where, until then, all their expectations had been focused, and look at the sun on the other side. I turned around, too, toward the point commanding their gaze and I could see the sun, like a very clear disc, with its sharp edge, which gleamed without hurting the sight. It could not be confused with the sun seen through a fog (there was no fog at that moment), for it was neither veiled nor dim. At Fátima, it kept its light and heat, and stood out clearly in the sky, with a sharp edge, like a large gaming table. The most astonishing thing was to be able to stare at the solar disc for a long time, brilliant with light and heat, without hurting the eyes or damaging the retina. [During this time], the sun’s disc did not remain immobile, it had a giddy motion, [but] not like the twinkling of a star in all its brilliance for it spun round upon itself in a mad whirl."
"During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described, there were also changes of color in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything had assumed an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same color. Everything both near and far had changed, taking on the color of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice and I recall a sensation of amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. My own hand was the same color."
"Then, suddenly, one heard a clamor, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed all at once to loosen itself from the firmament and, blood red, advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was truly terrible” (Garret, A. Novos Documentos de Fátima, Loyala editions, San Paulo, 1984).
This event concluded the apparitions in Fátima but the impression the events, as a whole, created are ones that have remained in the hearts of the Portuguese for over a hundred years.
May is Mother’s Month in Portugal.
While traditionally, the official day Mother’s Day in Portugal is in December, it’s been celebrated in the month of May in recent history. May also is the anniversary of the beginning of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Fátima making the month of May a very special one to celebrate all earthly and heavenly mothers.
From your friends at Rooster Camisa-Happy Mother’s Day and Felizes Dia Das Mães.
Written by Margaret Resendes Peek