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10º aniversário da Associação Nacional de Doenças Mentais e Raras – Raríssimas
10º aniversário da Associação Nacional de Doenças Mentais e Raras – Raríssimas
Lisboa, 28 de Setembro de 2012 see more: 10º aniversário da Associação Nacional de Doenças Mentais e Raras – Raríssimas


Mrs Maria Cavaco Silva Speeches


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Address delivered by Mrs. Cavaco Silva at the inaugural act of the “Bethlehem – Maria Cavaco Silva Collection”
Mercedes Calles Y Carlos Ballestero Foundation, Cáceres, 14 December 2011

I was very pleased to accept the invitation of the Mercedes Calles Y Carlos Ballestero Foundation to exhibit my Nativity Crib collection at their House in Cáceres.

There were several reasons that led me not to hesitate.

I have visited Cáceres before this and greatly admire its set of beautiful monuments that make us so well aware of the path of men and their buildngs over the centuries.

I have often lent Nativity Cribs to France, a country with which I have kept very much in contact over this passion, which has many more followers than I had ever believed possible.

And it was, after all, the time to cross the border of our nearest neighbour in all of Europe.

We have for many centuries shared a territory, we share strong cultural features that have built what can be stated as being our common identity as next door neighbours, although autonomous and different.

The Museum of the Presidency, in which I have the utmost confidence, had a very relevant role, because it has always shown great enthusiasm for the Foundation.

The Foundation was, anyway, a very weighty argument, since it pursues objectives that are very dear to my way of life: culture, solidarity, environment, science.

We are now together, in this beautiful Cathedral, to open in Cáceres, after treading the road from Lisbon, the Nativity Cribs collected by the wife of Portugal’s President of the Republic.

This path, a short geographic distance from Lisbon to Cáceres, has in times past, however, a much greater expression.

When I am asked how my so particular interest in Nativity Cribs came about, and which has led me to collect several hundreds, it is very difficult, if not even impossible, to place a date on it.

What happened with my generation, with a very difficult and austere post war period lived in the city of Lisbon, must have stamped my infancy and its Christmas traditions.

A Christmas without consumerism, with no Santa Claus, no reindeer, no Christmas tree. These Nordic traditions were no part of us in my childhood days.

It was the Infant Jesus that brought us gifts on the night of the 24th December, climbing down the chimney and depositing them in the shoes that the children had so carefully laid out.

Letters were written to the Infant Jesus and, of course, a Nativity Crib was always there to welcome Him with the dignity demanded from His anniversary.

I later found out the role of St. Francis of Assisi, a Saint to whom I am much devoted, in the first staging of Christ’s Birth.

But passions are never very easy to explain and, as an adult and with the course of my life set towards many international contacts and continuous travelling, I saw myself owner of a varied collection of materials, origins, countries and approaches, at times erudite or at times folkish.

When in the Palace of Sao Bento, the Official Residence of the Prime Minister, I used to spread Nativity Cribs through the rooms at Christmas time, together with the remaining decorations, so that the tree would always be together with what was for me the truly Portuguese Christmas symbol.

The interest then became public, the collection started to grow, and it has never stopped growing.

I note however, in the younger generations, in addition to the more attractive and coloured Nordic traditions of Santa Claus and the Tree, a growing interest in the Nativity scenes.

In Portugal we have craftsmen and artists that have brought extremely original and attractive figures to the basic idea of the Birth in Bethlehem.

This is my world that I want to share with you because Christmas is a time for sharing.

And it is my hope that you have as much pleasure in receiving them in Cáceres as I had in bringing them from Lisbon.

(“Que tengan tanto gusto en ricibir mis Belens, como yo he tenido a traherlos hasta aqui!”)

Thank you very much and a Very Happy Christmas to you all.

(“Muchas Gracias y Feliz Navidad para todos ustedes!”)

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