If you are an aviation enthusiast, you will surely like to know that festivities in honor of the Universal Patron Saint of Aviation are held every year, in Alcafozes, Idanha-a-Nova. Several airlines, the Portuguese Air Force and, of course, Azores Airlines take part in these festivities.
Azores Airlines joined these festivities for the first time in 2001, with the presence of uniformed employees, accompanied by the company’s flag, and continues to this day.
After two years of interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Azores Airlines was able to place a model of one of its airplanes in the exhibit located inside the Chapel of Our Lady of Loreto. This model will be on display throughout the year.
The festivities in honor of Our Lady of Loreto include a Saturday night mass followed by a procession. Representatives from airlines and other entities carry the image from the Church of Alcafozes to the Chapel of Our Lady of Loreto, accompanied by their flags. On Monday, there is an open-air mass followed by a procession flown over by F-16s from the Portuguese Air Force. Flower petals are launched by ultralights during the procession. The symbolism of these festivities is so strong that the choirs of both masses are composed of employees and former employees of airlines, who sing together in honor of the patron saint of them all.
Our Lady of Loreto became the Universal Patron Saint of Aviation because, according to the legend, the Holy House, then in danger, was carried from Nazareth, in Palestine, to Loreto, in Italy, through the air, by the invisible hands of angels. Interestingly, the Holy House of Loreto is placed directly on the ground, without any foundation, and the stone from which it is made is not on-site, being on the other hand commonly used in constructions in Nazareth. In 1920, after the First World War, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed, for this reason, Our Lady of Loreto as the Patron Saint of Aviation.
Feeling inspired? We will be waiting for you in Alcafozes in the next year!