Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, August 28, 2020

Portugal's Unknown Soldiers

Tomb with Christ of the Trenches

On 9 April 1921 there were brought from Flanders and Portuguese Africa to the Monastery of Batalha, Temple of the Motherland, the two "Unknown Soldiers, representing in all their glory those lost during the expeditions sent to the referred theaters of operations and symbolizing the heroic sacrifice of the Portuguese People.”

Batalha Monestary

Ever since the end of the 19th century, the Monastery of Batalha has been an object of nationalistic fervor due to its cultural and psychological significance in history, which would later lead to its appointment as dedicated resting place for the Unknown Soldier, becoming a patriotic place of pilgrimage where the national soul could find sanctuary.

Double Tomb

And so, laid to rest beneath the spectacular vault of the Chapter House and lit by the so-called "Flame of the Mother Country" of the Monumental Lamp created by Lourenço Chaves de Almeida, a guard of honor watches over the tomb under the protective eye of the maimed "Christ of the Trenches" that had been the constant companion of the Portuguese troops in the campaign of Neuve-Chapelle, Flanders.

Photos from Steve Miller, text from the Batalha Monastery website. 

No comments:

Post a Comment