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  • Writer's picturemysteriesofmercia

A Tale in Two Countries

This bizarre statue stands overlooking the sea at the Portugese town of Nazarè. I walked past it as the sun went down on my way to see some of the famous waves that lash the beaches here, making it one of the world's top surfing destinations. What surprised me was how the monument is connected to the folklore of England.

Apparently the intention was to install a sculpture to commemorate a local legend. During the 12th century, one Dom Fuas Roupinho was riding hard after a stag he had been hunting. Thick fog blanketed the coastal woodlands, to the point that Roupinho almost chased his quarry over a cliff. Realising he was seconds from death, he called out to Our Lady of Nazarè - an aspect of Mary - to save him. His horse dug its hooves deep into the earth, bringing them to a halt and saving Roupinho's life.

The same legend occurs here in England, where Edmund Ironside, on the trail of a white stag, was saved from hurtling into the Cheddar Gorge by the intervention of God, a miracle he attributed entirely to St Dunstan who he had previously treated with cruelty.

"Veado" - the statue you see here - was installed with funding by the surfing community and so its design reflects the old and new cultures of Nazarè - folklore with a modern, slightly hipster twist. It's certainly not a sight one forgets in a hurry.

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