Faith on an open box van


Beatriz Machado

Lisbon, Portugal

In Portugal, containment measures began to be lifted after more than a month under a state of emergency.

The end of the state of emergency coincided with three important dates: April 25th, Labor Day on the 1st of May, and Mother's Day on the 3rd of May.

Due to the pandemic, the question of how the 25th April Revolution, also known as the Carnation Revolution (resulting from the political and social movement that took place on April 25, 1974, that overthrew the dictatorial regime of the Estado Novo, in force since 1933 which started a process that would end with the implementation of a democratic regime and the new Constitution on April 25, 1976).

As a very important date for the Portuguese, this date was celebrated in the Assembly of the Republic, initially with 300 people, but after much commotion about all the quarantine effort that was made so far, just to gather so many people in one space. It ended up being celebrated with some deputies and political representatives of the various parties, the total number not reaching 200 people.

With the duty of confinement imposed due to the pandemic, the celebrations of April 25 did not take place in the streets. However, an isolated man strolled Avenida da Liberdade - at the time when the celebratory parade is held annually - with a flag and a carnation flower.

On the 1st of May, the day before the end of the state of emergency, the Communist party and the workers' unions in the name of the celebration of Labor Day gathered 1000 people in Alameda D. Afonso Henriques in Lisbon. A controversial act, when all religious and social celebrations have been held in a restrained manner up until this point. Creating controversy with the Church for not being able to celebrate the typical pilgrimages to Fátima, a city representative of the Catholic Church in Portugal.

On Sunday, May 3, Mother's Day was celebrated, as part of the celebrations of special Marian devotions held in the Catholic Church during the month of May in honor of the Virgin Mary as "the Queen of May".

Because the masses are canceled, a neighbor placed a saint in the back of an open box van, with loudspeakers, where he toured the area where I live during the day with mass recordings. This celebration which is an occasion that gathers a lot of people, in the current state, are unable to do so, had to be rethought in order to reach people in a safe way, enabling the celebrations to take place, even from afar.

I found it especially interesting how everything during this context had to be rethought, from the way we work, how we study, the way we relate to others, the way we interact with the outside, and also how the traditional celebration of faith and belief also had to be altered.

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