The Cockerel that Saved a Pilgrim’s Life:
On any Portugal holiday, you’ll no doubt see an abundance of colourful ceramic cockerels in souvenir shops. This cockerel has its origin in the pretty town of Barcelos where, according to a local legend, it is said to have saved the life of a traveller who was wrongfully accused of theft.
As the Legend of the Barcelos Cockerel goes…
A pilgrim was leaving Barcelos on his way to Santiago de Compostela when he was accused of stealing silver from the landowner. For his alleged crime, he was sentenced to death by hanging.
He prayed to Our Lady and St James, the patron Saint for Protection, that justice be done. As a final effort to save himself, the prisoner pleaded for a meeting with he judge. The judge was about to tuck into his roast cockerel, when the pilgrim said to the judge that as proof of his innocence, the cockerel would stand up on the plate and crow.
The judge ignored the pilgrim’s claim and pushed aside his meal. But, as the pilgrim was hanged, the cockerel jumped up and crowed. Realising his mistake, the judge rushed to the gallows and found that the pilgrim had miraculously survived due to a loose knot.
According to the legend, the pilgrim returned many years later to carve the Cruzeiro do Senhor do Galo which is now housed in the Museu Arqueologico in Barcelos.
Of course there are many variations and embellishments to this Portuguese legend, but the Rooster from Barcelos has become one of the national symbols of Portugal and is said to represent faith, justice and good luck.