The Seven-headed beast in Evora's "Painted Houses"

Seven-headed beast

Many years ago - so many that memory lost count of them - confusion and death reigned in Evora (Portuguese old town in the Alentejo). The chieftains did not know what to do. They complained that the spirit of evil was running lose. Faced with this widespread belief, the elders decided that a temple to a good goddess should be raised, and so it was. This is the origin of the Temple of Diana (the ruins of which one can see in Evora).
This temple has a hole in its middle. The spirit of evil entered this hole under the shape of a serpent and there it remained until the temple was destroyed because of people’s ill-will and lust for power, and it fell into ruins.
Disease, confusion and trouble took once again hold of the people. What should one do?
The elders decided to do what their ancestors had once done: they decided to build a temple to the mother of God, so as to contain the badness in the beast which itself contained the spirit of evil. And so the Se was raised that held firm the spirit of evil through the sign of the cross.
Peace reigned for centuries until uneasiness returned the town in the fifteenth century. In order to hold the spirit of evil, the spiritual authorities decided to order a mural painting to imprison it there. That is the origin of the Painted Houses. Once again, peace returned to the town. But decay has now taken hold of the mysteries of these frescoes, and the spirit of evil is running lose again, and trouble is taking hold of us once more.
What are the governing authorities going to do about the paintings that for centuries have held firmly the spirit of evil that is gnawing on us again?

 

Information collected in Evora by the anthropologist Maria Joana Krom

Fernanda Frazão, Lendas Portuguesas da Terra e do Mar, Lisboa, Apenas Livros, 2004, p.208.

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