Next Sunday, May 5, is Mother's Day and also the day of Mãe Soberana and the feast of Nossa Senhora da Piedade (our Lady of Mercy) in Loulé.
The celebration, promoted as, "the greatest religious festival south of Fatima," will see thousands of visitors descend on the city and its dome shaped church on the hill to its west.
After the Festa Pequena (Little Feast,) that took place on Easter Sunday, when the statue of Nossa Senhora da Piedade was taken from the hilltop Church to the city’s Church of St. Francis, the Festa Grande now is being finalised.
The Bishop Emeritus of Funchal, António Carrilho will be presiding on Wednesday and the Horse Riding Club of Loulé will parade on Saturday morning at 09:00 in the Largo de S. Francisco.
On Sunday, as is traditional, the first religious celebration will take place, with the celebration of a Eucharist in the Church of S. Francisco, transmitted live on TVI.
At 12:30 p.m., the statue of Nossa Senhora da Piedade leaves the plaza, where the Duarte Pacheco monument is standing, accompanied by musicians.
After mass presided over by the Bishop, at 4:00 p.m. next to the Duarte Pacheco monument, the crowd starts the great procession through the city streets, accompanied by music from the Banda Filarmónica Artistas de Minerva.
At 6:00 p.m., the closing of the liturgical procession takes place in Largo de S. Francisco, and the ascent to the Church on the hill begins.
Eight men carry the statue on its plinth up the steep hill, accompanied by the crowd.
The festivities end with a firework display, next to the Nossa Senhora da Piedade Hermitage, at 11:00 p.m.
A tradition that dates back to the 16th century, the Feast of Mãe Soberana is one of the Algarve's anchor events for religious tourism and a tradition that is part of the Loulean identity.