São Bento Path

Pilgrimage to S. Bentinho or as it was also said to go to S. Bento da Porta Aberta, was a common practice among the people of the seaside, particularly those who lived in the lands of Esposende.

It is true to say that “none of the inhabitants of northern Portugal ignored, or ignores, the existence of this important pilgrimage. A crowd walked there, intensely experiencing the feast of the Saint, never leaving aside the profane aspect, having fun. The poet from Belinho António Correia de Oliveira in his sonnet “Romarias” describes, in an interesting way, the pilgrimage to S. Bento. Also, the popular vein of repentant poets did not fail to question S. Bento.

“S. Bento da Porta Aberta
Por que não a tendes fechada?
Quereis ver os passageiros
Que vos passam na estrada?”

The connection between Senhora da Abadia and S. Bento da Porta Aberta to Esposende is very old. A document dated from August 15 1153, informs us of the concession to this convent of the tithe of salt produced in the butchers of Fão, benefiting the “Monasterio Sancte Marie et Sancti Michaelis” sometimes called São Miguel do Bouro. One of the products used as payment for promises, and since medieval times, was salt, both for pilgrims to the Abbey and those of S. Bento. Two purposes were associated with the promise - salt should be requested and should never be placed on the ground along the way.
Between the 10th and 15th of August, on the riverside banks of Cávado, from Fão to Rio Caldo, males loaded with the “precious condiment on the way to Bouro and S. Bento” were seen. Upon arrival, pilgrims watched the unloading of salt bellows. In the first phase, around the Middle Ages, it was the salt workers who conducted their tithes there, then it was the devotees themselves - even those who had never seen the sea - who, imitating them, promised salt to their devotions.
A short 7km walk through Esposende. We started our pilgrimage in Fão, next to the river and, if in the past the crossings of the Cávado river were made in the “Barca-por-amor-de-Deus”, today the beautiful metallic bridge Luís Filipe, that connects Fão to Esposende, allows the trip to be made constantly and smoothly. Afterwards, he goes through the parishes of Gandra and Gemeses to finally enter Barcelos. With a total distance of about 70km, joining the coast to the mountainous Gerês, pilgrims will pass through different landscapes and territories, with a mixture of adventure, devotion and faith.


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