Porto, The Legend of Vandoma
10 Oct, 2017, By Manuel A.
Although most of my fellow portuenses believe that Saint John the Baptist is the patron saint of Porto, Nossa Senhora da Vandoma (Holy Mother of Vandoma) is the actual utmost saint in town. The story behind this devotion dates back to the end of the 10th century, when Christians were trying to reconquer Iberia back from the Moors.
It’s popular belief that among the thousands of holy fighters that came to aid the Portuguese in this Crusade there were an armada from France, and with it a bishop from Vendôme. He had brought with him a replica of the patron saint of his hometown, and after all the battle, destruction and sword fighting was over it was placed on top of one of the city entrances, by the Cathedral. It was a sign of victory, but above all gratitude.
A thousand years went by, my city grew larger, its walls kept expanding and finally went down, but the devotion for Nossa Senhora da Vandoma still stands. A replica of the original statue that greeted foreigners into town is still preserved inside the Cathedral, and an image of the Saint is visible in the city’s Coat of Arms design. After all, tradition is part of my city’s way of life. It makes life in this marvellous place by the river somehow more exciting and mystique, and preserves a medieval essence about it.
Although the legend of Nossa Senhora da Vandoma is quite famous around town, it’s a shame most portuenses don’t know she’s the actual Patron Saint of Porto; but in the end this is quite understandable: Saint John the Baptist is celebrated on the 23rd of June, a municipal holiday, when the street light themselves with colour, music and revelry, and it’s no wonder we cherish the most the Saints that grant them the things we love the must.