Lisboa: Matchmaking with Saint Anthony

Posted on June 12, 2006

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manjericos.jpg

by claudia dias

The Lisboa Annual Festivities are here! The air is thick with the smoke of grilled sardines, the old neighborhoods are lively with pimba music and boys buy manjericos for their sweethearts. Buying a manjerico in June is a minor tradition around here. It’s a plant closely related to basil – smells beautifully – and a paper carnation is usually stuck in the vase. The carnation carries a really sassy little poem involving love or courtship. They’re called St. Anthony’s quatrains.

Ó Santo António de Lisboa,

Tu que tens fama de casamenteiro,

Se o casamento fosse coisa boa

Tu próprio não ficarias solteiro!


Oh Saint Anthony of Lisbon,
You famous matchmaker,
If marriage was a good thing
You wouldn’t be single yourself!

(this obviously rhymes in Portuguese)

The Festivities commemorate St. Anthony’s day and although he was born in Padova (Italy), somehow the Lisboetas adopted him and call him Santo António de Lisboa. Oddly enough, despite being a monk and a saint, popular faith says Saint Anthony was a great flirt and, hence, a protector of lovers. He’s the one you’d be praying to find a husband/wife. I wonder if the Vatican knows about this…

Tip: a salad of roasted green peppers is the best side dish to have with grilled sardines.