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Monday, July 10, 2006

The Legend of the Rooster of Barcelos

Something to crow about

The Legend of the Rooster of Barcelos

Barcelos Rooster

"One of the most famous figurines of Portuguese handicrafts is the well-known rooster (cock) of Barcelos, which has become a national tourism symbol for Portugal.

The 14th century cross, which forms part of the patrimony of the Archaeological Museum of the town of Barcelos, is associated with the curious legend of the cock. According to this legend, the inhabitants were very perturbed by a crime of which it had not been possible to discover the author.

One day, however, there appeared a man from Galicia who was suspected of having committed the crime. He was arrested and, notwithstanding his protests of iinnocence, nobody believed him when he said that he was on his way to São Tiago de Compostela to fulfill a vow; that he was a fervent devotee of that Saint who was venerated on a par with St. Paul and Our Lady in Compostela.

And so he was condemned to be hanged. But before the execution, he asked to be taken to the presence of the judge who had pronounced the sentence. His request was granted, and they took him to the house of the magistrate, who was dining with some friends.

The Galician once again protested his innocence, and, to the amazement of those present, pointed to a roast chicken on the table and exclaimed: "As surely as I am innocent, will that cock crow if I am hanged!" There was an outburst of laughter and comments, but in the end, nobody touched the cock. But what seemed impossible actually happened."

" When the pilgrim was being hanged, the cock stood up on the table and crowed. No one any longer doubted the innocence of the condemned man. The judge rushed to the gallows and, horrified, saw the wretched man with the rope around his neck. But the knot was caught and thus prevented him from being strangled.

He was immediately released and sent on his way in peace. Years later, he returned to Barcelos and built the monument to the Virgin and St. James."

quoted from porto express

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