Iria is one of the saint's days
which is celebrated to the fullest in
and definitely something not to be missed if you are in the area.
Santa Iria (Saint Irene)
is the patron saint of
Tomar and also of Santarem and the celebrations
usually coincide with her Saints' day on 20th October.
The story of Santa Iria
has a special significance with
though the festival is celebrated in other towns within
just as fully.
According to legend
Santa Iria was a well educated, beautiful and wealthy young woman from
took holy orders. Despite her family's standing within the community,
she was pursued mercilessly by local noblemen, keen to create a union
with her family.
Iria (Irene), took her
religious vows seriously and resisted. However she was no match for one
particular 'would be' suitor, who ravished, then later murdered her when
it became apparent she was with child.
Although her 'would be
suitor' successfully buried her body, as legend goes, her body was seen
floating in the
River Tagus (Rio Tejo).
Today the festival, in
is organised, by the council to celebrate, Santa Iria's life, rather
than her death, something which lead to her being Canonised by the