Starting point – Moita
And so it is, whenever there is one more Pilgrimage on Horseback, an old religious tradition, of unique and unique contours that, nowadays, brings together more and more participants. The hustle and bustle around the horses, carriage and harnesses suggests that the departure time is approaching. The day dawns very early next to the area surrounding the Municipal Exhibition Hall, in Moita, on the departure day of the pilgrimage. It is necessary to finalize the animals preparation and to prepare the stomach for the path. Most of the participants of the Pilgrimage on Horseback Moita – Viana do Alentejo arrive the day before, not to miss the blessing and the departure ceremony. They come from several parts of the country and even from abroad, and many of them fulfill this tradition since it was resumed in 2001. Besides summon up the religious tradition and memory of former farmers who took their animals to Viana do Alentejo to be blessed during the procession in honor of N.ª Sr.ª D’Aires (patron saint of the animals), the pilgrimage privileges the conviviality between groups of horses lovers, equestrian associations and the so-called brotherhoods, many of them created exclusively about this event.
The bugle announces the departure time. Dressed to the nines, men, women and children, of all ages, parade aligned on properly ornamented horses, in the direction of N.ª Sr.ª da Boa Viagem Church, to obtain the blessing at the beginning. Even before the beginning of the first stage of the pilgrimage, the Organizing Committee, composed by Municipal Councils of Moita and Viana do Alentejo, the Association of Romeiros da Tradição Moitense and the Equestrian Association of Viana do Alentejo, welcomes the participants. After the blessing attributed by the parish priests of Moita and Viana do Alentejo and devoutly received by the pilgrims, it is time to follow the journey, behind the carriage, which carries the image of N.ª Sr.ª da Boa Viagem, towards to the old Canada Real. Scattered around the village streets, the population watches to the departure of the pilgrims and says goodbye with best travel wishes.