Accepted paper:

Ambivalence as re-enchantement: heritage, spirituality and intimacy in Lisbon


Cyril Isnart (Institut d'Ethnologie Méditerranéenne, Européenne et Comparative)

Paper short abstract:

Based on a fieldwork at the birthplace of St Anthony of Padova in Lisbon, this paper analyses the ambivalent effects of heritage-making in a Catholic sanctuary. It describes the overlaps of heritage and religious life, but also reveals tactics to preserve the intimacy of the local worshipers.

Paper long abstract:

The sanctuary built at the supposed birthplace of Saint Anthony of Padova is one of the tourist spots of the city centre of Lisbon in Portugal. Anthony has a multifaceted role in the dynamics of Portugal cultural policies and everyday life: he is a world celebrated Catholic saint, one of the figure of the national narrative, a tourist attraction and a resource for locals' healing needs. Based on archive investigation and ethnographic fieldwork, this paper describes the heritage-making process implemented around Saint Anthony, especially the interconnections between lay and religious activities of displaying the sanctuary and the cult of the saint. I demonstrate that local actors, mixing up heritagisation of the devotions and spiritualization of the exhibitions, enact a re-enchantment of cultural mediation and contemporary religiosity. This complex renewal of religion as a cultural good contributes to a major openness of the place and provides visitors with better explanations on the origins of the devotions. However, it also has an unexpected effect. The tourist and heritage reconfiguration of the shrine hides the more intimate religiosity of the locals, i.e. the image of the saint and its power. The case of the sanctuary of Saint Anthony in Lisbon demonstrates that the categories and the activities at play (heritage, tourism, religion, popular devotion) need to remain ambivalent, in order to be efficient for the tourists and to preserve the religious intimacy of the locals.

panel Heri05
Re-enchantment, ritualisation, heritage-making: processes of tradition reconfiguration in Europe: historical and ethnographic examples