Sunday, May 10, 2009

Boa Morte

Sunday in Coimbra is a quiet day, unless you are a church goer. All of the shops and most of the cafes & restaurants are closed. Thankfully, we completed the majority of our site seeing yesterday, so today we really didn´t have anything planned except continued exploration of the city. It was again a bit chilly and drizzly today, so after an excellent breakfast at our B&B we walked around for several hours before returning ´home´ for a nap.
view from Coimbra University
We were awakened by the sound of a marching band parading through the streets. They were very near to us but from our window we couldn´t see them, even though we saw people from a street over looking down on the random parade.
At about 4pm we went out and one of the small pedestrian, residential streets that we have passed frequently was suddenly enlivened by a path of carefully arranged flowers and leaves leading down the winding road. We saw a couple of elderly women laying out the flowers. We discovered that this was in honor of an old ritual, the Festa Na. Sa. Boa Morte, which is an annual procession from a cathedral in honor of the virgin Mary. We went to the church and sat for about 45 minutes of the mass before the procession started. (this is by far the longest time that i have spent in church as an adult) The procession was led by a priest and assorted church officials carrying banners, then a group of scouts carrying a life size figures of Mary, lying in repose among flowers and gilded angels. A marching band followed, playing sober music, and behind the band, was a group of people. Rose petals marked the path of the procession around the city. Along the route, people hung colorful fabric from their windows and watched the pious parade. It was quite a wonderful scene.
Coimbra has been a delight, full of unexpected events. Tomorrow after breakfast we catch a train north to Oporto.
Boa Noite.
Boa Morte viewers: Coimbra

Boa Morte procession: Coimbra

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