Tuesday, 11 January 2011

HOLY CROSS OF BALASAR - 2


It is clear that Fr Umberto also remembers the Holy Cross as we can see in the biography Blessed Alexandrina, chaps. I and V.
Therefore, Bld Alexandrina’s friends cannot ignore the history – attested and documented - of the appearance of the Holy Cross of Balasar and the cult that was born from it, indeed, studies made some time ago.

During the years 1933-1935, an author who identified herself only as Z exhaustingly approached the subject in the periodical Propaganda, under the heading “Santa Cruz de Balasar[1]. Many years later, in 1958, Fr Leopoldino Mateus published a very similar study, but more developed, in the second number of the Cultural Bulletin of Póvoa de Varzim.
Towards the end, he gives the information that the writer Francisco Gomes de Amorim, in his romance As Duas Fiandeiras, in chapters 8 the 12, reconstitutes the feast of the Holy Cross of Balasar referring to the year 1845. It is certainly a historical evocation of his youthful times, therefore trustworthy.

In the parochial archive of Balasar, is a copy of the process for the authorization for the creation of the Holy Cross Chapel – “Letter of civil judgement of patrimony of the Holy Cross Chapel of Jesus Christ, situated in the parish of Saint Eulália de Balasar” – which was written in the Curia of Braga.
What is impressive about the document is the credibility it imposes. There are other temples with their origins involved in legends, yet here everything is duly proved.
By the way of legend, it is worthwhile to recall here the case Our Lady of the Snows, whose chapel is right next to Balasar which the Beata doubtless knew. Let’s see what was written in a journal many years before:

There is a local tradition that the image Our Lady of the Snows appeared in that place. It was taken to the parochial church of Bagunte; it disappeared from the altar to be again found in the same location. After this had happened three times the faithful acknowledged that it was Our Lady’s will that that is where it was to be and they erected a chapel there giving it the name of our Lady of the Snows.

We are in the field of pure legend. But, as there is no smoke without fire, and we must acknowledge that some reason must have existed to justify the building of the little church in a so wild a place. Anyway, the devotion to Our Lady which has developed there is not less genuine because there is no attested, historical information on its origin.

Balasar is not very far from Barcelos and belonged to its municipality up to 1836. A word, then, on the Crosses of Barcelos.
There are reports of the appearance of crosses in various places, over a long period of time. The case of Barcelos is one of the more notable. The Panegyric Treatise, written by a Franciscan, Friar Peter de Poiares, and published in 1672 speaks about them. The book is exactly that - a panegyric! The author is giving the crosses credit for the expansion and importance of the city since they appeared there. He is careful, of course, to attribute their appearance to causes with a convincing base in veracity.

[1] He was already sure Fr Leopoldino Mateus.

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