The iconography connected to Our Lady of Nazaré and to the Miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho is relatively common in the West region of the country, particularly in Nazaré.
In Lisbon the representation of this theme is rare, but during our walks around the city of the Seven Hills we found 3 evocations to this miracle that we want to bring to our readers.
Let’s, in the first place. find out about the story of Our Lady of Nazaré and the Miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho, one of the most famous legends of the history of Portugal.
Our Lady of Nazaré and the Miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho
The first time the story of the origin of the image of Our Lady of Nazaré and the Miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho was told dates back to the late 16th century.
It was the Friar Bernardo de Brito from the Alcobaça Monastery who told it. He was also the one who had the initiative to unblock the cave where supposedly the image of the Virgin was found in order to build the chapel that today exists in the
Sítio da Nazaré (Place of the Nazaré).
According to the friar, the image of the Virgin was sculpted by St. Joseph himself in Nazareth in Palestine, hence the name Nazaré, and after countless vicissitudes, it was brought to the Iberian Peninsula and hidden in a cave where, in 12th century, D. Fuas Roupinho found it and started venerating it.
D. Fuas was a noble knight close to King Afonso Henriques, 1st Admiral of the Tagus Squadron, Alcalde of Porto de Mós and protagonist of this famous miracle. It is said that in a foggy day, while he chased a deer he was saved from falling from the promontory after evoking the Virgin. In order to show his gratefulness he donated this territory to Our Lady of Nazaré.
The diffusion of this cult went from being passed on orally to being written down, being always iconographically associated to the miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho. Since then that the pilgrims from everywhere and from every social strata started going to this territory and many miracles happened.
However, there is no coeval document that proves the existence of this knight and today it is known that the image of the Virgin is a product of a regional workshop of the 14th and 15th centuries. These facts confirm the legend and not the story, but either way its artistic manifestations are interesting.
We’re thus sharing with you 3 evocations in Lisbon of Our Lady of Nazaré and the Miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho that are present in very different both physical and time contexts.
Alfama, the Evocation in a Tilework Panel
The tilework panel that we can admire in Alfama, in the no.10 of Beco do Maquinez, is the first and oldest of the 3 iconographic evocations of Our Lady of Nazaré and the Miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho that we’ve found in Lisbon.
It is a tilework panel in rococo style from the 3rd quarter of the 18th century, produced after the earthquake of 1755, just like the majority of the tilework panels that we find above the doors and windows of the oldest neighbourhoods of Lisbon. After the tragedy, these images of devotion and protection became common among buildings of all social strata.
The panel consists of a polychromatic frame (yellow, blue and green) constituted by shell and plant-inspired motifs. This complex frame involves three distinct scenes painted in white and blue.
On the bottom left side we can see Saint Martial, a bishop with his attributes (mitre, dalmatic and crozier) blessing the home and everyone who passes by. This saint is commonly represented in this popular context as a protector against fires and is thus the patron saint of the firefighters.
On the right side, Saint Francis of Assisi holds a cross and shows his stigmata. He’s the protector of animals, the representation of starkness, humility and hope.
Finally, in the centre is represented the apparition of Our Lady of Nazaré and the miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho. The Lady is crowned, standing and holding baby Jesus, surrounded by clouds. Further down we see D. Fuas riding a horse while chasing the deer in the exact moment when the horse miraculously stopped, preventing him from falling from the cliff.
The choice of this iconography indicates that the habitant or owner of this building has a connection to Nazaré, which is not surprising, since this building is located in the neighbourhood of Alfama, which was once a place of fishermen from different fishing areas of the country
Prazeres Cemetery, an Evocation in a Tomb
In order to find the second evocation that we propose to you, we have to head to the Prazeres Cemetery, in Campo de Ourique. Here, in the crossing of the street 3A and the street 26, we find the tomb no. 5687 of Cândido Rodrigues, built between 1915 and 1917, that displays a tile panel where Our Lady of Nazaré and the Miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho are represented.
The project doesn’t show a date nor descriptive document that allows us to know the intention of who ordered it. However, the choice of this type of iconography so specific and uncommon in the region of Lisbon certainly results from a devotion or a personal connection of the owner with Nazaré, a fact that is indicated in the documentation available in the archive we’ve consulted.
The panel, which is not signed nor has indication of the place of manufacture, has a reverse curved arch as a frame that finishes with a circled Cross Pattée, symbol of the ideal of spiritual cavalry and, for that reason, a symbol adopted by the Knights Templar.
If we associate to it the two corinthian columns that flank the tomb’s door, knowing that these symbolise beauty and the personification of the senior warden, we can extrapolate a relationship with the Freemasonry, but it could also just be a decorative choice.
This panel too presents a common pattern in the Portuguese tilework between the 2nd half of the 18th century and the 1st half of the 20th century, the representation of two times: the present, decorative and colourful and the historic or mythic past, in the white and blue scenes in a direct evocation of the tilework of the beginning of the 1700’s.
The naturalist representation indicates a more erudite artist than the one of Alfama, but the composition is identical.
Do not hesitate to pay a visit to this fantastic historical cemetery, there you will find a real open air museum with many other reasons of interest
The Maritime Station of Alcântara, the Evocation in the Mural of Almada Negreiros
The last evocation of Our Lady of Nazaré and the Miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho that we bring to you is located in the Maritime Station of Alcântara in a mural of the plastic artist Almada Negreiros from the 1940’s.
The Maritime Station of Alcântara is a modernist building projected by the architect Porfírio Pardal Monteiro that is situated in the West zone of Lisbon.
Once a visitor’s room to those who came to Lisbon by sea, today it is a less accessible place but that you can get to know through scheduled guided tours in Portuguese of excellent quality to the Maritime Stations of Alcântara and Rocha do Conde D’Óbidos, offered by the Port of Lisbon.
Almada Negreiros’ paintings for the Gare Marítima de Alcântara consist of two triptychs that evoke the maritime and adventurous vocation of the Portuguese and the riverside life of Lisbon, and two isolated paintings where symbolic and traditional values are defended.
It’s in one of the latter ones that we find the representation of the Miracle of Nazaré, a traditional composition but that presents a few curious details.
D. Fuas Roupinho is dressed as a Portuguese bullfight horseman, which is connected to a Portuguese cultural tradition that was very enjoyed at the time.
Our Lady of Nazaré, in turn, is represented with the attributes of the Immaculate Conception, queen of Portugal, and in addition to being crowned and having Baby Jesus in her arms, she has by her feet the lunar crescent and the snake with the apple of the original sin.
On the bottom part of the mural are also represented the people of Nazaré wearing curious traditional clothes related with their tough jobs. This peculiar fishing village was one of the first to be promoted internationally, having its economy progressively shifted from mainly fishing to mainly tourism.
Our presentation of the three evocations of Our Lady of Nazaré and the Miracle of D. Fuas Roupinho ends here. If you know others do not hesitate to share them with us!
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