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Written by SemanaSanta   
Friday, 11 March 2016 14:42


Records of Holy Week celebrations in Óbidos go back to the 17th century. Remembering the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, Holy Week in Óbidos is considered one of the most impressive religious manifestations in the western region of Portugal and attracts many people to this town united by devotion and culture. The festivities begin with the centuries-old Procession of the Third Order of St. Francis which marks the beginning of Lent and involves many litters exuberantly decorated with flowers. On Palm Sunday, the procession of Senhor dos Passos (Our Lord of the Stations) parades through the streets, outside and inside the walls of Óbidos, culminating in the Church of the Misericórdia, alongside which a Calvary representing the hill on which Jesus was crucified. The highlight of the ceremonies takes place on Good Friday with the poignant Funeral Procession of the Lord where the lighting is exclusively provided by a few torches placed at strategic points along the way. The ceremonies end on Easter Sunday with a Eucharistic Mass. Complementing the religious program are a number of cultural manifestations namely concerts and exhibits.

Cultural and Religious Program 2018

The Holy Week of Óbidos
March 24 to April 1, 2018

Every year, religious and cultural ceremonies attract thousands of people to Óbidos. 
Holy Week is the highlight of the liturgical and cultural calendar of Óbidos and is an important religious event for the local community, as well as for the many thousands of pilgrims and tourists who attend these impressive ceremonies. 

Religious and Cultural Program 2018


21h00 “Spirituality of Holy Week”

Lecture with Pe. Jorge Ferreira (spoken in Portuguese)

São Pedro’s Church

17h00 Concert “As Palmeiras” (The Palms)

Senhor Jesus da Pedra Sactuary, Free entrance

21h30 Procession of the Changing of the Images

Procession departs at the Misericórida Church

15h00 Blessing and Procession of the Branches

Procession departs at the: Óbidos Parish Museum (Igreja de São João)

15h30 Palm Mass of the Lord's Passion

Santa Maria’s Church

17h00 Procession of the Steps

Procession departs outside Santa Maria’s Church

21h00 “Christus factus est”

Concert with Grupo Coral Alma Nova and the Sinfonietta D’Óbidos

Santa Maria’s Church > Free Entrance

21h00 Easter Recital

Works by Mozart, Bach and José Joaquim dos Santos

Rita Marques (Soprano)

Tiago Mileu (Piano)

Misericórdia Church> Free Entrance

21h30 Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper

São Pedro’s Church

10h00 Office of Readings and Lauds

15h00 Celebration of the Passion of the Lord

São Pedro’s Church

17h00 Via Sacra

Streets of Óbidos

21h30 Procession of the Burial of the Lord

Procession departs from Misericórdia Church

10h00 Office of Readings and Lauds

São Pedro’s Church

10h00 Easter Vigil

São Pedro’s Church

17h00 Mass of the Resurrection

São Pedro’s Church

* Musical accompaniment during religious ceremonies by:

- Coral and Instrumental Group of the Municipality of Óbidos - Alma Nova

- Sociedade Musical e Recreativa Obidense

- Sociedade Reacreativa e Filarmónica Gaeirense

History of Holy Week

Holy Week Holy Week Obidos - Summary

Óbidos has long been home to many historical and religious events. Evoking the Passion and death of Christ, Holy Week attracts to the town of Obidos thousands of visitors united by devotion or by curiosity, giving a particular importance to cultural and religious tourism.

Holy Week Celebrations early proved to be one of Óbidos’ best tourist "poster" and undeniably brings to light the most beautiful and impressive religious ceremonies of its kind in Western Portugal. For this reason, in 1963, through the then Secretary of State for the Council Presidency, José Venancio Paulo Rodrigues, these ceremonies were included in the tourist promotion program "Avril au Portugal", having taken on a transnational dimension.

With the recent and gradual recovery of the Holy Week ceremonies, the Óbidos community, from the Town Council to its local inhabitants, motivated and committed to maintaining ancient local traditions, have been able to gather evidence that will be passed down from generation to generation, in hopes that these traditions will live on for years to come. Much of the current knowledge about these religious ceremonies have been collected and are part of Albino Castro and Sousa’s private archive.

The play that portrays the Decent of Jesus from the Cross dates back at least to mid-seventeenth century and recovered in the 1960’s by Albino de Sousa e Castro.

Holy Week ceremonies begin with the Penitential Procession of the Third Order of St. Francis, commonly known as the young boys procession. Its purpose is to prepare one for the inner journey of Lent. In this religious manifestation, litters are exuberantly decorated with flowers, displaying Saints of the Franciscan devotion. Almost all of these images date to 1849.

On Palm Sunday, with streets scented with olive branches, rosemary and lavender, the majestic Lord Procession Jesus dos Passos gains life, slowly making its way inside in narrow cobbled streets of the historic center, stopping at small evocative oratories dedicated to Steps of the Passion of Christ. The procession ends upon the arrival of the Misericórdia Church, a scenery set to represent the Palestine Mountain, near Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified.

This procession is opened by a traditional figure, the "gafaú", a character who walks barefoot with his head covered in a cloth carrying a serpent like instrument, known as a "serpentão", announing the that there will be condemnation soon. announcing to the crowd that the approach of it, is very soon.

The ceremony of Jesus being taken down from the cross leads into the moving procession of the Lord's burial, which takes place in the darkness, except for torches placed at key points of the processional route. This ceremony is not referred to in the Roman Missal, but it was established in Portugal by the faithful in the fifteenth century and early sixteenth century. As a cultural manifestation, it is considered the high point of the solemnities.

Arriving in Óbidos:

The motorways A8 (Lisboa-Leiria) and A15 (Óbidos-Santarém) and IP6 (Peniche, Óbidos) make access to Obidos extremely easy.

We recommend the following exits for faster access to parking:

If arriving by car:

A8 North // Exit 16 // Gaeiras / Obidos

A8 South // Exist 15 // Obidos

If arriving by train: please check timetables at www.cp.pt

If arriving by bus: please check timetables at www.rodotejo.pt

Useful information:

Parking // There are 7 parking areas near Obidos, with capacity for more than 4000 vehicles.

Tourist Office // It is next to the main Parking Area, about 200 meters from the entrance of the town of Obidos.

Restaurants // Click here for a map of the restaurants in Óbidos. Map (download)

Hotels // Click here for a map of the hotels in Óbidos. Map (download)

Public Toilets / Baby Care // There are 5 public toilets in Óbidos. A diaper changing station is available in the restroom located at the Municipal Museum. There is a second station in bathroom nears the castle.
ATM Machines // There are 5 ATMs, next to the Village Front Door (BES, CGD and BPI and CA). Inside the Old Town, there is a Cash machine opposite the entrance to the Municipal Museum of Obidos, next to Saint Mary’s Square, in the town’s center.

Religious Heritage of Óbidos:

Saint Mary's Church
Located in Saint Mary’s Square, this church is found in the main square of the Town. Legend has it that it was founded during the Visigoth period. Later, it became a Mosque and after King Afonso Henriques’ conquest from the Moors, it became a Christian Temple once again.
Saint Teotónio was its first prior of this church. Later, King João III endowed it his wife, Queen Catarina of Austria. It also housed a collegiate.  Queen Leonor profoundly changed the medieval temple in the end of the 15th century. Also, the bell tower was constructed during these restoration works. This church was damaged in the 1535 earthquake, but it was immediately reconstructed with the support of Queen Catarina and of prior Rodrigo Sanches. It is after these works that the temple acquired its current appearance.
The mannerist portico (main entrance) holds an image of Our Lady of Assumption. The interior is divided in three naves and has with a painted wooden ceiling dated back to 1676. The walls are covered with blue and white tiles in from around 1680-1690.
In the chancel, covered with blue and yellow tiles, one can find the retable (c. 1620-1622) by the painter João da Costa. In the epistle side of the altar, a retable of Saint Catherine by Josefa d’Óbidos portraying Saint Catherine’s Martyrdom and Life can be found.
In the Gospel side of the altar, which is in a national baroque style, one can find an image of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is part of Our Lady of Grace Valley Gate.
Also, in this same side one of the first works of art of the Portuguese Renaissance is found: the tomb of João de Noronha and his wife Isabel de Sousa. It is considered a national monument and dates back to 1529-1532. It is made from ançã stone, coming from the region of Coimbra.
Finally, one can admire in the high choir, the pipe organ from the 17th century and a set of oak wood chairs.

St. Martin’s Chapel
Pero Fernandes created this chapel in 1331. It was a private tomb chapel of the Lords of Pó. It belonged to the Lafetá family until 1913 and, in 1998, was bought from the Viscount of Sacavem by the municipal government.
At the entrance, one can admire two magnificent stone sculptures from the 15th century, representing the Virgin of Maternity and the Angel Gabriel. 
Its pointed arch (ogive) is developed in three archivolts, on beautiful columns of carved capitels. 
Outside the chapel we can see two tombs that were taken from the inside during the French Invasions. Close to Óbidos, in Roliça, a battle took place on August 17th, 1808, and was considered one of the first defeats of Junot Napoleon.
Around that time some relics of Óbidos were also stolen.

Almshouse Church
Formerly the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Legend has it that in 1498 Queen Leonor founded the Almshouse of Óbidos.  
This church possesses an impressive artistic collection. It has an ancient image of the Virgin Mary in the entrance porch, in blue porcelain. Its interior is completely lined in hand-painted tiles from the last main restoration (1678). Of particular interest is the tomb of the Countess of Cavaleiros – Luíza Guerra. The wooden vault ceiling bears several painted ornaments and the Royal crown. 
In this church the old flag of the Almshouse, painted by Diogo Teixeira, in 1592, is found there. In the building we find the old almshouse hospital with the assembly room decorated in a Baroque style.

Third Order of Saint Francis
Located in outskirts of the town, it is a small temple with a Baroque Portal and a Franciscan emblem. It has one nave and a dome covering its chancel.  Its tiles are from the first half of the 17th century.  On the side walls, we find chequered blue and white tiles, as well as blue and yellow tiles.The tiles that cover the triumphal arch and cover the chancel and are of a polychromatic pattern. The retable, painted by Belchoir de Matos (c. 1600) represents St. John in Patmos and other saints related to the Franciscan Order.
Our Lord Jesus of the Stone Sanctuary 
Inaugurated in 1747, this sanctuary is one of the most interesting Baroque buildings in Portugal, mainly due to its hexagonal shape. It was commissioned by King Joao V in memory of the accident from which he escaped from, by evoking Our Lord Jesus of the Stone. The trace of this construction work is of the responsibility of the Architect Captain Rodrigo Franco (of the Mitra Patriarchal).
Just a few meters away there had existed a small chapel, meanwhile destroyed, that housed a Paleo-Christian cross. The cross can be found on the main altar of the Sanctuary. Its interior presents three chapels: the chancel dedicated to the Calvary with a painting by André Gonçalves; the side chapels dedicated to Our Lady of Conception; and the Death of S. Joseph with paintings from José da Costa Negreiros. The peculiar stone image of the Crucified Christ, also in the chancel was, until the inauguration of the Sanctuary, sheltered in a small hermit next to the road that went in direction to Caldas da Rainha where it was object of great devotion, especially by King Joao V.

St. Peter’s Church

Gothic temple founded during the middle Ages, originally with three naves. This building was altered during the 16th century. The baptistery and the tower staircase have resisted many natural disasters, among them the earthquake of 1531. The portal is from the 17th century. It is also possible to see on the right side of the portico a stone relief with an amulet seal in the façade of this church, which confirms the reminiscences of the ancient temple. 
The 1755 earthquake destroyed the temple. Later, it was completely rebuilt. 
Nowadays, we can find inside an interesting gilwood retable. To the right, we find a 17th century painting of St. Peter receiving, from Christ, the keys to heaven. Unknown authorship.
It is also said that the famous painter Josefa de Ayalla, also known as Josefa d’ Óbidos, deceased in 1684, is buried in this church.

Contact Information:

Tel. 262 959 231

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Tel. 262 959 633

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Last Updated on Monday, 19 March 2018 12:45

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