The Cock of Barcelos

 
The legend of the Barcelos´s cock
 
Everywhere you go in Portugal you see images of the black cock. We have seen some in white but mostly they are just like the one in the picture below. They range from one euro and tiny to 35 euros and three feet high.  As he is so important we thought he could have a "little blog" on his own.
 
O Galo de Barcelos is the unofficial symbol of Portugal. In any curio or tourist shop you will find the symbol represented by a ceramic rooster and in the motif embroidered in towels, aprons, stamped on key chains, paper weights, etc. Because of its lively colors, the Rooster of Barcelos is difficult to miss where ever it appears. The motif seems to embody the love of life displayed by the Portuguese people.
The symbol has its genesis in the history of Barcelos. The city of Barcelos is located just east of Braga. Even though it is not on a major highway, it still is a good sized city. The legend of the Rooster is so old that no one knows for sure its real source. There are serveral versions of the legend. The version below came from a postcard we found in a gift shop in Obidos.
 

At banquet given by a rich landowner in Barcelos, the silver was stolen and one guest was accused of the theft. He was tried by the court and was found guilty. In spite of the overwhelming evidence against him, he still protested his innocence. The magistrate granted the man a final chance to prove this case. Seeing a cock in a basket nearby he said: "If I´m innocent the cock will crow!"

The cock crowed and the prisoner was allowed to go free.
 
 
 
The Longer Version

The 16th century cross which forms part of the patrimony of the Archaeological Museum of the town os associated with the curious legend of the cock. According to this legend, the inhabitants were very perturbed by a crime of which it had not been possible to discover the author. One day, however, there appeared a man from Galicia who was suspected of having committed it. He was arrested and, not withstanding protestations of innocence, nobody believed him, when he said that he was in his way to Santiago de Compostela to fulfil a vow; that he was a fervent devotee of that saint who in Compostela was venerated on a par with St. Paul and Our Lady. So he was condemned to be hanged. But before the execution, he asked to be taken to the presence of the judge who had pronounced the sentence.

His request was granted, and they took him to the house of the magistrate, who was dining with some friends. The Galician once again protested his innocence, and to the amazement of those present pointed to a roast chicken on the table and exclaimed: "As surely as I am innocent will that cock crow if I am hanged" There was an outburst of laughter and comments, but in the end nobody touched the cock.

And what seemed impossible actually happened. While the pilgrim was being hanged, the cock stood up on the table and crowed. No one any longer doubted the innocence of the condemned man. The judge rushed to the gallows and horrified saw the wretched man with the rope round his neck, but the knot was caught and this prevented him from being strangled. He was immediately released and sent on his way in peace. Years later, he returned to Barcelos and built the monument to the Virgin and St. James of Santiago.