A barge and two crows: Saint Vincent, the ancient patron saint of Lisbon
January 22nd marks another anniversary of the death of Saint Vincent, the saint that was once the patron saint of Lisbon and the Kingdom of Portugal, until he was replaced by Saint Anthony, today unbeatable in the preference of Lisboners.
So much so that it is quite likely that, unlike June 13 (St. Anthony's day), another anniversary of St. Vincent's death will again go unnoticed by most Lisboners. But if it is like this today, in 1173 it was quite different.
The year marks the arrival of Saint Vincent's relics in Lisbon, deposited first in the church of Santa Justa, in downtown Pombal, which disappeared during the 1755 earthquake. Well before the earth shook, however, St. Vincent's relics had already been transferred to the Sé of Lisbon, where they are to this day.
Probably born in Saragossa, Spain, Vincent was captured by the Romans and taken to Valencia, where he was martyred. He would have suffered from the torture of sleep to the disconjunction of his limbs and his body thrown to the ground to be devoured by animals, among them crows.
Strangely enough, the birds renounced their characteristic necrophagy and began to defend Vincent's remains from other predators, in what was considered his first miracle.
Crows that accompanied the boat that brought the relics of St. Vincent to Lisbon in 1173. Hence the boat flanked by two crows that to this day illustrates Lisbon's flag and the other symbols of the city's City Hall.
Saint Vincent was Lisbon's patron saint until 1981, replaced by Saint Anthony, who in 1930 had already taken his place as Portugal's patron saint. The city's former patron saint has a statue dedicated to him at Portas do Sol, with the church that bears his name as a backdrop.
By Álvaro Filho