Balasar has deep roots in a very distant past, the time of the megaliths, with two dolmens and one menhir, the time of the “outeiros” (ancient sacred hills), the time of its four Gothic farms (villae).
Perhaps even in the tenth century of our era, in the area that the parish now occupies, two parishes were created, Saint Saviour of Gresufes and Saint Eulalie of Lousadelo. Probably at the end of the twelfth century, the church of Saint Eulalie was moved from Lousadelo to Matinho by Belsar. From him is derived the name Balasar. In the fourteenth century, Gresufes and Balasar were joined, but the union only became definitive in the mid-sixteenth century.
Ancient statue of Saint Eulalie
In medieval history, in the parish was known a royal inn in the “reguengo” (set of royal land) of Gestrins. It is also noted that members of the noble Correias family owned properties there, along with another noble family, the Ferreiras d'Eça, and also religious institutions.
The family of Carneiros da Grã-Magriço
Gomes Carneiro, a member of the Carneiro family, from Vila do Conde, married a young girl from Balasar in the second half of the sixteenth century. From this couple originated the Garneiros da Grã-Magriço family.
In 1741, the teenager Benta Carneiro da Grã-Magriço married the wealthy Manuel Nunes Rodrigues, who had made a fortune in Brazil. He built a rich baroque chapel (Capela da Quinta), and his wife, when a widow, also endowed the parish with an appreciable monument, a stone bridge of three arches over the river Este.
Manuel Nunes Rodrigues built a rich baroque chapel
The marriage of D. Benta with Manuel Nunes Rodrigues, enriched the family, and designed it for a socially relevant future: one son, who was an alderman of the town of Póvoa de Varzim, built an excellent emblazoned residence there. His granddaughter, marrying a member of the noblest family of Azevedos, became the Viscountess of Azevedo. The couple, however, had no descendants, which is what caused the extinction of the Carneiros da Grã-Magriço.
Destination of pilgrimage
In the eighteenth century, Balasar had two small pilgrimage destinations, the spring of Holy Peter of Rates and the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy, both in the hamlet named Casal. Holy Peter of Rates was then the patron of the Archdiocese of Braga and the spring where he drank from was in the parish, where legend claims that he had suffered persecution. The Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy was built in 1737 by the military officer and merchant from Balasar António da Costa Soares.
Old Statue of Our Lady of Mercy
The Holy Cross
On June 21, 1832, Portugal lived a remarkable moment in its history, when a mysterious cross on the floor appeared in the hamlet of Calvary, a little more than two dozen meters from the bridge of D. Benta.
This phenomenon, well documented, caused a deep impression and gave place to great pilgrimage. The current Chapel of Holy Cross was built, and another, larger, to the east. The pilgrimages that celebrated the anniversary of the apparition became famous, but often ended with scenes of beatings. In 1903, a man died, and the priest stopped the revelry. From 1919, there were attempts to revive it, but without success.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross was built by Custódio José da Costa and others
Votive offering of the Chapel of the Holy Cross
Throughout the ages, remarkable men and women, other than Blessed Alexandrina, were born or lived at Balasar. Some of them have already been mentioned. Others were: José Custódio da Costa, Luís Joaquim de Oliveira (he healed the Queen D. Maria II), José António dos Santos (one of the first officers of the municipality after liberalism), the Commander of Maranhão (Brazil) José Pedro dos Santos, and a number of municipal councilors, such as José Domingues Furtado (the modern first roads of the parish and primary school came from his time), Manuel Joaquim de Almeida (continued the road renovation and helped the construction of the church and the cemetery) and José António de Sousa Ferreira. Also, several presidents of the Junta (parish council) such as Joaquim António Machado, Lino Araújo ... and pastors (the poet António Martins de Faria, Leopoldino Mateus ...), etc.