• Parties and processions: Borba’s Festival of Saint Anthony

    Parties and processions: Borba’s Festival of Saint Anthony

    Today, thousands of people will be travelling to Borba, a city in the Trocano Araretama Conservation Project area in Brazil, to join in the celebrations for the Festival of Saint Anthony. The festival runs from 1st to 13th June, involving entertainment, music and events – and, of course, plenty of food and drink. As well as being the patron saint of Borba, Saint Anthony is traditionally known as the matchmaker, and with 12th June being Dia dos Namorados (the Brazilian equivalent of Valentine’s Day), the festival is sure to set some hearts racing!

    San Antonio river procession, Borba, Brazil

    River procession in honour of Saint Anthony

    Saint Anthony, the patron saint of Borba

    Saint Anthony of Padua was born in 1195, and was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. As the patron saint of finding lost things or people, Saint Anthony is celebrated around the world, with major events also happening in Portugal and the United States.

    The ‘Festa de Santo Antônio’ is part of the traditional June Parties in the country, when the life of St. John on 24th June and St. Peter on 29th June are celebrated too. The festival in Borba still retains some of its religious origins – a focal point of the festivities is a procession carried out on 13th June, the last day of the festival, when a statue of St, Anthony is carried through the city amidst hymns, prayers and thanksgiving.

    This culminates in Borba Cathedral, which was a declared a shrine of Saint Anthony in 1993 upon the arrival of his relics.

    San Antonio festival, evening time, Borba, Brazil

    Saint Anthony festival, evening time, Borba, Brazil

    With so much going on, it’s no surprise that the population of Borba swells to three times its normal amount due to pilgrims arriving from around Brazil, and even from other countries. It is an opportunity for people to reconnect with family and friends, and perhaps even to meet someone special… This highlight of the local calendar is attended by many of those living with the Trocano project area. You can read more about what it’s like to attend the festival in this blog post by CGV team member Yago, who is from Borba and has taken part many times.

    The festival will close with a traditional procession of boats down the Madeira river – a beautiful and poignant end to a fortnight of fun!

    To get a taste of the festival and its thronging crowds, have a look at the scenes from this short clip from a Brazilian TV station:

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    Kate Hawkes

    Marketing Assistant with Celestial Green Ventures since May 2015. Background in English Literature, charity marketing and volunteering, most recently with a wildlife rescue centre in Indonesia.

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