August 15th

Portugal is a secular state and 
as such not 
influenced by any religion, there are numerous days celebrated by the 
predominant religion in the country that are national
 August 15th is one of these days.

On August 15th, Catholics celebrate the day when the mother of
 Jesus died and, according to their beliefs, ascended to heaven. The
 Day of the Assumption, or more precisely, the Feast of the Assumption 
of Our Lady, is a holiday during which many Portuguese participate in
 festivals and popular pilgrimages to honour the saint who is also
 considered as the patroness of Portugal.

In a previous blog post, explaining another catholic celebration
 that is also a national holiday, December 8th or the Feast of Our Lady of the Conception, I explained that the Virgin Mary was crowned Queen of
 Portugal and has since been considered the patroness or protector of
 the country.

But it’s not only the Portuguese in general who consider Mary as their protector. Many communities of fishermen and women 
are also devoted to this saint. In Viana do Castelo, the festival 
they organize to honour their patron saint, Mary — also known as “Nossa Senhora d’Agonia” (Our Lady of Agony) has become internationally

Festivities of Our Lady of Agony: origins and traditions

According to history, the worship of Our Lady of Agony began in
 1674 among fishermen from that region of Portugal and Galicia.
 However, it was only in 1772 that the tradition of holding a 
procession started. As the years went by, the fishermen’s pilgrimage 
grew, incorporating other celebrations such as an agricultural fair
 and a popular festival with singers and folk dance groups.

In the early 20th century, the region’s inhabitants started 
parading through the streets in their traditional attire. Nowadays,
 this tradition remains active as the most important ethnographic parade in the country. The humble procession of fishermen thanking 
their patron saint is now one of the most well-known religious celebrations in Portugal and beyond.

colar de contas de Viana e coração em filigranaThese festivities, taking place in the second 
week of August to include August 15th, a national holiday, and August
 20th, a municipal holiday in Viana do Castelo, include several
 parades including 
the ethnographic one mentioned earlier
 which highlights the several kilograms of 
gold used to adorn women’s traditional
 dresses. This “fashion show”
 loaded with silver and gold necklaces has internationalized this festival,
 as well as 
the heart and gold
beads that are characteristic 
of Viana’s 
jewel art works.

 Romaria da Agonia, which 
has been listed as a celebration 
of “Public Interest” for Tourism in the region since 2013, is 
a nostalgic souvenir of a rural Portugal long gone.


Romaria de Nossa Senhora da Agonia, in Wikipedia, available in, last access on 14.08.2023

Memórias da Romaria d’ Agonia, available in, last access on 14.08.2023