Loulé prepares to host “biggest religious celebration south of Fátima”

It is billed as the “biggest religious celebration south of Fátima” and is expected to attract thousands of Catholics and curious tourists to Loulé on Sunday, May 5.

The ‘Festa Grande da Mãe Soberana’ celebration is held every year to honour the town’s patron saint Nossa Senhora da Piedade.

Festivities begin at 11am at the São Francisco church with a Eucharist ceremony which is aired live on TVI, followed by a procession which sees the image of the patron saint being carried from the church to the Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco monument.

Several other religious celebrations will be held until the image of Our Lady of Piety is carried along the town’s main streets at 4pm, accompanied by the Banda Filarmónica Artistas de Minerva musical group.

The final stage of the procession will begin at 6pm and will see Nossa Senhora da Piedade being carried by eight men uphill towards the Ermida da Nossa Senhora da Piedade, which will host a firework show at 11pm to end the celebrations.

Says Loulé council, the tradition dates back to the 16th century and has become one of the “anchor-events” of the Algarve’s religious tourism sector.

“But, above all else, it is a tradition that is part of Loulé’s identity.”