Currently, the public veneration of the Lord Christ Holy Ghost of the Miracles is observed throughout the Azores Islands. And due to the emigration of many Azoreans to the US and Canada, particularly coming from São Miguel Island, the worship and devotion to Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres expanded with celebrations and processions held in some cities in the Americas. A parish church dedicated to the Holy Christ was built in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Watching the events unfold, I weighed the collection of seriousness and colorful gala against my Amish-Mennonite psyche, molded in youth to regard ostentation with suspicion. If anything, my brand of religion had been prone to lean on an over-prescribed modesty practiced on the austere fringes of Protestant sentiment. The funeral probably was the height of celebration. For Catholicism — here anyway — the procession mixes penance and funeral with frolic driven by elaborate rites and feast. A funeral ingredient cannot be ignored, however, since black dress, solemn demeanor, pained steps and patient self-reflection are all stirred in the festive event. Is this a celebration of the death of Christ or of his resurrection? Again, for an outsider, the question may not be decisively answered.
Explosions of fireworks unloaded far above the harbor interrupted the slow, methodical soft crunch of marchers on beds of flowers and pine needles.
Several, events comprise the appearance of and benediction of the Christ icon. The most important include, first, the Saturday night exit from the Sanctuary of the Lord Holy Christ, in the Convent of Our Lady of Hope, near the main avenue of the port Ponta Delgada. Jesus is conveyed around the main square a short distance to St. Joseph's Chapel. Later that night the Lord is returned to the convent and placed prominently in the main sanctuary bestowed with riches untold.
Second, an open air mass attracts thousands the next morning (Sunday) even as residents along a roughly 4-mile parade route through the city begin their task of preparing the trail of penance. Hand-constructed 2x4 wooden frames are used to set an unbroken path of brilliant flowers and evergreen fragments that will guide the public procession.
Banners and railing/balcony adornment unveiled above the streets include elaborate bouquets of flowers, featuring white Easter lilies. Children, the elderly, and every assortment of individuals are kneeling in the streets, dispersing flower parts in abstract patterns that the thousands of marchers will later in the day trample under foot, rendering the art unrecognizable.
Lady of Hope Sanctuary While Jesus is Out and About
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