Fenais da Ajuda

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Coordinates: 37°51′5″N 25°19′26″W / 37.85139°N 25.32389°W / 37.85139; -25.32389
Fenais da Ajuda
Civil Parish
SMG RBG Fenais da Ajuda.JPG
The northwestern coast of Fenais da Ajuda, as seen from the area near Lombinha and Ponte
Coat of arms
Official name: Freguesia de Fenais da Ajuda
Country  Portugal
Autonomous Region  Azores
Island São Miguel
Municipality Ribeira Grande
Localities Criação, Espigão, Fenais da Ajuda, Ribeira Funda
Center Fenais da Ajuda
 - elevation 162 m (531 ft)
 - coordinates 37°51′5″N 25°19′26″W / 37.85139°N 25.32389°W / 37.85139; -25.32389
Highest point Gafanhoto
 - location Lagoinhas
 - elevation 635 m (2,083 ft)
 - coordinates 37°47′42″N 25°18′45″W / 37.79500°N 25.31250°W / 37.79500; -25.31250
Lowest point Sea Level
 - location Atlantic Ocean
Area 13.36 km2 (5 sq mi)
 - urban .44 km2 (0 sq mi)
Population 1,131 (2011)
Density 85 / km2 (220 / sq mi)
Settlement c. 1500
 - Parish c. 1541
 - Civil Parish c. 1832
LAU Junta Freguesia
 - location Rua da Canada
 - elevation 150 m (492 ft)
 - coordinates 37°51′11″N 25°19′28″W / 37.85306°N 25.32444°W / 37.85306; -25.32444
President Junta Davide Manuel Afonso Camboia
President Assembleia Maria do Patrocínio Sousa de Medeiros Correia
Timezone Azores (UTC-1)
 - summer (DST) Azores (UTC0)
Postal Zone 9625-025
Area Code & Prefix (+351) 292 XXX-XXXX
Patron Saint Nossa Senhora da Ajuda
Wikimedia Commons: Fenais da Ajuda (Ribeira Grande)

Fenais da Ajuda is a civil parish in the municipality of Ribeira Grande in the Azores. The population in 2011 was 1,131,[1] in an area of 13.36 km².[2]


The name fenais da ajuda comes from fenais (hay or other herbaceous plants used as animal fodder, since the area historically produced much animal fodder),[3][4] and from its patron saint, Nossa Senhora da Ajuda (English: Our Lady of Assistance), and a Franciscan monastery to Her honour that was located in the parish.[3][4] Similarly, the area was known as Fenais da Vera Cruz, due to the area's similarity to a Christian cross, and later as Fenais da Maia when the Maia parish was sited there.[3]

In the Livro do Tombo da Igreja dos Santos Reis Magos (English: burial register for the Church of Santos Reis Magos), until 1819 the parish was part of the municipality of Vila Franca do Campo, but was later integrated into the municipality of Ribeira Grande.[3]

The first habitants came from the neighbouring parish of Maia around 1500. They built a chapel dedicated to the Santos Reis Magos (literally, English: Sainted Magi Kings, or the New Testament Magi, who were protectors of Portuguese navigators and explorers).[3] Historian Gaspar Frutuoso said of these settlers:

"There is a place in these Fenais, a parish of Reis Magos, where there were many noble settlers."[4]

The first vicar, Bernardo de Froes, operated the religious institution and the local affiliated industry, which was supported by meager revenues from the Church.[4] In 1541 the church there was elevated to the status of parish.[4] In 1832 the parochial Church of the Santos Reis Magos was begun, and it was consecrated in 1843.

The church building is a good example of period construction, having been successively conserved by the Ordem Terceira (English: Order of Terceira) over the many years.[4] The small chapel, dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, was built on the site of a much older chapel by the Franciscan monks around 1681 under Lázaro Estrela (to fulfill a promise to the Virgin Mary), and remained in their possession.[4] Between 1832 and 1847 the chapel served as an ornate parochial seat, its austere main nave in contrast to a painted lateral chapel, constructed in a revivalist style and embossed with gold. The Franciscan monastery was vacated in 1832 when the Liberals expelled the monks, and the building was abandoned. After being sold, the convent was demolished.[3]

Near Ribeira Funda (named for a nearby deep ravine, since ribeira funda means English: deep ravine), the parochial Church of Nossa Senhora da Aflição (English: Our Lady of Affliction) was constructed. The building resulted from the enlargement of the minor chapel (to the same invocation) which was ordered built by descendents of Captain António de Medeiros and his wife Maria Francisca.[3][4]


The parish of Fenais da Ajuda occupies an area of 13.36 km², along the northern coast of Ribeira Grande between the parishes of Lomba da Maia and Lomba de São Pedro, and the municipality of Povoação (and its border with Furnas).


  1. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  2. ^ Eurostat
  3. ^ a b c d e f g JC (9 October 2008). "Um Pouco da História dos Fenais da Ajuda" [A Small History on Fenais da Ajuda] (in Portuguese). Fenais da Ajuda (Azores), Portugal: Fenais da Ajuda Blog. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Direcção Regional das Comunidades (2010), p. 120
  • DRC, ed. (2010). Festas das ilhas de São Miguel e Santa Maria 2010 [Festivals of the islands of São Miguel and Santa Maria 2010] (in Portuguese). Ponta Delgada, Azores: Direcção Regional das Comunidades. pp. 10–11.