Marcelo posthumously decorates Saramago with the great necklace of the Ordem de Camões

This Tuesday, the President of the Republic posthumously decorated José Saramago with the great necklace of the Ordem de Camões for “unique services rendered to Portuguese culture and language”, at the start of the commemorations of the centenary of the writer’s birth.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa presented the decoration to the president of Fundação José Saramago and widow of the writer, Pilar del Río, at Teatro Nacional São Luiz, in Lisbon, before the official opening concert for the celebrations of this centenary.

“José Saramago, Nobel Prize and Camões Prize, well deserves to be awarded to him today, posthumously, another distinction that evokes our 16th century poet: the Ordem de Camões, definitively institutionalized this year and intended to reward unique services rendered to the culture and the Portuguese language,” said the head of state.

“And I am sure that this definition and the great necklace that I am going to hand over to Pilar del Río contain in themselves the justification for this very deserved and symbolic gesture in the name of Portugal”, added Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Among others, the Prime Minister, António Costa, the Minister of Culture, Graça Fonseca, and the Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, were in attendance.

José Saramago was born on November 16, 1922 in the Ribatejo village of Azinhaga and died on June 18, 2010 on the Spanish island of Lanzarote. The centenary of his birth began to be celebrated this Tuesday, the day he would have turned 99, with an international cultural program.

The President of the Republic stated that “the Foundation [José Saramago], schools, libraries, theaters, public authorities and society in Portugal and throughout the world” will commemorate this date and that, “of this vast program, this is one of the most important and institutional moments”.

In an intervention of about five minutes, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa considered that José Saramago would be the first to recognize “that words make things, lift people from oppression, change their destiny, change what happens, review history, allow the future”.

“A writer, and a writer like Saramago, is allowed to make his own destiny happen, which is contrary to a destiny: to belong to the place where he was born but go further, work on the words of others as a translator or the present as journalist and write his texts that go far beyond the circumstance, arriving apparently late to the canon and integrating in it with an undeniable and irresistible force, writing for the Portuguese and reaching the whole world”, he continued.

The head of state pointed out the reach of the “writer’s word”, which, “being individual, addresses everyone and reaches many, many, many millions” and later highlighted that the “President’s word”, in turn, “represents many, a few millions”, in the name of which he attributed to Saramago the posthumous distinction with the highest degree of the Order of Camões.

Leaving the São Luiz National Theater, at the end of the concert by the Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra, directed by conductor Pedro Neves, the President of the Republic exclaimed: “Great start”. The Prime Minister agreed: “A great start, yes sir.”

Source: Expresso by

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