- The Barcelos rooster has long been a national symbol of Portugal and colorful, painted ceramic representations in many different sizes of this legendary, symbolic bird are among the most common souvenirs of Portugal. A 14th-century folk legend from Barcelos, north of Braga, embodies the notion that "Winning justice is possible when you fight for it," as well as traditional values in rural life: pride, fate, justice, and prayed-for miracles. Like so many of the traditional folk legends of rural Portugal, this one centers on what happened to a rural farmer. One version of the legend begins with a peasant leaving Barcelos for a pilgrimage to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. As he reached the outskirts of Barcelos, the peasant was accused of stealing silver from a wealthy Barcelos landowner. The peasant was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by hanging. Before his execution, the peasant pleaded to speak to the judge who had condemned him. The judge was at a banquet and was about to eat a roasted rooster. The peasant prisoner said that during his execution the rooster would rise and crow as a sign of the man's innocence. As the peasant was about to be hanged, the rooster did rise and crow from the table and the judge ran to the gallows, stopped the execution, and freed the peasant. Some time later, the peasant returned to Barcelos and built a monument to honor St. Tiago and the Holy Virgin. While people do not necessarily believe in the miracle presented in the Barcelos rooster folk legend, the familiar story is as widely known as the Barcelos rooster, long a popular symbol of Portugal.
Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. by Douglas L. Wheeler . 2014.
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