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Festivities and Exequies

The Misericórdia of Vila Real was associated with the celebrations or funerary ceremonies of the royal family that occurred in the borough. In 1800, for example, it carried out the lighting of the church, in the occasion of the birth of the Infant Maria Francisca de Assis (1800-1834). In 1802, it placed luminaires to celebrate the birth of the new infant, Miguel (1802-1866). In 1806, new luminaires celebrated the birth of the Infant Ana de Jesus Maria (1806-1857). And in 1833, a new set of lights was placed to commemorate the anniversary of King Miguel I (1828-1834).

Among the many obligations that the Misericórdia should comply, its nineteenth-century bylaws determined the distribution in the Maundy Thursday of clothing for twelve poor who proved they were in need; for this purpose, ten days before the voting a list with the candidates was distributed to all Board members in order for them to select the most needed. Within this spirit, the Misericórdia also offered an annual dinner for the inmates at the local jail, on Easter Sunday.

A precious document of 1822 gives us an overview of the many pious and religious obligations assumed by the Misercórdia referring to daily masses, annual masses, masses on holy days, masses for the souls of deceased brothers on Saint Martin’s day, ceremonies to be held during Lent and the Holy Week, donations to the poor and fulfilment of pious legacies. We should also mention the ancient custom of praying mass on the day of the Purification of Our Lady, and the donations given to prisoners on Maundy Thursday.

Public prayers should be carried out all Fridays during Lent, visiting the churches across Vila Real, one by one, ending up in St. Dominic’s church, where a mass was celebrated. According to an "ancient custom", the Procession of the Holy Steps should be carried out in one of the Sundays of Lent, the exhibition of the Blessed Sacrament was to be organized during the Maundy Thursday and the Funeral Procession of Our Lord during the Good Friday.

However, we must remember that all these charges became unbearable at times, as appears from a decision taken by the Board in 1822: taking "into consideration the large expenses that were assumed to ready an angel for the processions of Sunday of Steps and Friday of the Passion, and with the branches that are given to the brothers on the election day, it was decided from now on to assume these expenses no more."

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