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The Portuguese Age of Discovery began in the fifteenth century.

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Images on these offerings depict whatever is to be (or has been) healed.

These include hands, heads, breasts, babies, and animals.

In rural areas, villagers honor their patron saint during the annual festa. There is a procession, and people fulfill their religious vows (promessas) for the occasion.

The festivities may last several days and often include such non-religious elements as picnics, dancing, fireworks, and bullfights.

This was replaced by the dictatorial rule of António Salazar (1889–1970) in 1926.

The Salazar government was finally overthrown in 1974.

Portugal is a modern, industrialized, Christian country.

Because of this, many of the rites of passage that young people undergo are religious rituals, such as baptism, first communion, confirmation, and marriage.

While only about a third of the population attends church regularly, almost all Portuguese are baptized and married within the church and receive its last rites when they die.

Religious observance is greater in the northern part of the country than in the south.

The most famous such shrine is the one at Fátima where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared before three children in 1917.

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