The religiosity of the Azorean people is well evident in the many manifestations that take place throughout the year and in the various islands, congregating around them thousands of pilgrims, many of them coming from the various communities of the Azorean spread throughout the world in fulfillment of promises made in times of greater distress, in thanksgiving of graces received or, simply, in a pilgrimage of longing.
SENHOR SANTO CRISTO DOS MILAGRES
The largest religious festival in the Azores is undoubtedly the Feast of the Lord Santo Cristo dos Milagres, which takes place on the fifth Sunday after Easter, in the city of Ponta Delgada, in São Miguel, to which thousands of pilgrims who, in an authentic manifestation of true faith, closely follow the passage of the imposing image of the Lord, incorporated in the solemn procession that, for about three hours, travels most of the streets of the city, for the purpose carpeted with artistic and colorful carpets of varied and fragrant petals of various flowers.
The source of the image
In the Caloura Convent, begins the story of the cult of the Lord Santo Cristo dos Milagres, in S. Miguel. It was in this place that the first Convent of Sisters was erected on this Island. It was necessary for someone to go to Rome to request the respective Apostolic Bull, and then two Sisters of St. Michael traveled to the Eternal City. In addition to being given such a document, the Supreme Pontiff also offered them an Image of Ecce Homo. As the place in the Caloura was very exposed to the pirates some religious went to Vila Franca and the others to the Monastery of the Hope that had been founded. The Image of the Lord did not stay but accompanied Mother Inês de Santa Iria to Ponta Delgada.
The first procession
In the year 1700, the island of S. Miguel was shaken by strong and repeated tremors of earth. The Mesa da Misericórdia, seeing that the earthquakes did not cease, decided to go to the door of the Monastery of Hope to carry in procession the Image of Santo Cristo. On April 13, 1700, the confraternities and religious communities and the nobility were united with faith. In the procession all went barefoot and as soon as the Image was seen in the concierge, the commotion was great. The nobility was that it took the andor of the Holy Christ and as they followed in the procession they were venerating the Image in all the churches. It was in the mysterious fall, coming out of the Jesuit church, that the Image did not fall on either side of the Andor, but rather fell through the upper part of the dock. The people were afflicted, asking God for mercy. The image was only damaged in the right arm. The Image was washed in the Convent of Saint Andrew and the procession continued, which was gathered in the Monastery of Hope.
Before and after this high point, the most solemn of the festivities after their respective camp mass, the profane face associated with them animates the afternoons and evenings of the western zone of the city, main stage of the meeting of the faithful in the four days in which they last the festivities.
With equal devotion, the cult of the Lord Santo Cristo dos Milagres is celebrated by the population of Graciosa and by the outsiders who, in August, are concentrated in the Vila de Santa Cruz and that, for the event, it adorns itself with its best ornaments.
A similar demonstration of the religiosity of the Azorean people is evident in the pilgrims who go to the Furnas on the first Sunday after Easter to watch the Procession of the Lord of the Sick, who, traversing the streets of the parish, skillfully covered with multicolored flower petals arranged on large rugs of great art and beauty, goes from house to house to bring comfort and hope of improvement to those who in bed suffer with some resignation the hardships of their infirmities.
The procession of Saint Michael or Labor, on the Sunday following May 8, a majestic procession that surrounds the patron saint of São Miguel, gathers several artisans thanking them for successes and asking for new incentives for their professions and the Feast of the Good Jesus da Pedra, in the last weekend of August, both in Vila Franca do Campo, are likewise sincere manifestations of the true faith of their pilgrims.
Still in São Miguel and revealing the religious sentiment of its people, the ranchos de Romeiros, groups of men who, in promise, walk the island on foot for eight days in the Lenten period, praying together with all the churches and chapels that have an altar dedicated to Our Lady, in which it is considered one of the great religious manifestations of the people of the island, each parish organizing its ranch.
The Festivities of Our Lady of the Assumption, patron saint of the island, held every year on August 15, in Vila do Porto, occupy a prominent place on the festive calendar of Santa Maria, to which it is associated for some years. this part, the Festival of the Tide of August. This festival attracts a lot of people, especially young people from other islands, the mainland and communities of Azorean emigrants, to watch the activities of the various musical groups that move there and the literary and plastic manifestations that simultaneously take place there.
The Festivities of the Divine Holy Spirit, which take place throughout the Archipelago, from Pentecost Sunday and Sundays, differ in their characteristics from island to island and even from parish to parish, although in common the Great Coronation, point and the often gracious distribution of the typical “Soup of the Empire.”
In Terceira, all the joy and feeling of its people that radiate from these festivities spreads the entire population of the island, Sunday to Sunday and in every parish, from Pentecost until the end of the Summer. The high point of the celebrations, essentially of charitable nature and with the main objective of delivering the bodo to the most needy, is reached with the distribution of the typical and famous Soup of the Holy Spirit and the perfumed Alcatra, both made with the meat of the cattle offered to the Spirit in fulfillment of promises and accompanied by table bread, bread of water and sweet bread, baked mass and aromatic wine of smell, all this consumed by the present in environment of great joy and animation.
The festivities end, especially in the parishes, with troubled and contagious “bullfights on the rope,” in which the bull, tied with a rope that is maneuvered by several men, travels through some streets of the locality, chasing the busiest folk who defy it and face, before the laughter and applause of those who watch.
From June 23 to 29 and in evocation of the Popular Saints – St. Anthony, St. Peter (Carvalhadas of St. Peter in Ribeira Grande) and St. John, the Sanjoaninas of Terceira constitute a great manifestation of a religious and popular character, to which all a rich traditional folklore, translating the simplicity of the Azoreans, in this case mirrored in the third-generation people.
The “bullfights in the arena”, which are called great names of the national and international bullfighting that, on foot and on horseback, vibrate great assists and the always lively and hilarious “bullfights” that rejoice greatly those who watch them, are an indispensable ingredient and much appreciated in the poster of Sanjoaninas that undoubtedly contribute to the projection of Terceira’s name beyond its borders.
At the same time of the year, São João da Vila, in Vila Franca do Campo, with the parade of its well organized, joyful and colorful “marches” that surpass all the joy of life of the young people who perform them, is a spectacle that has been signing on the festive poster of the island of São Miguel.
In São Jorge, in addition to the solemn feasts in honor of the patrons of the various parishes, the Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Carmel, the Fajã dos Vimes on July 16 and the Pilgrimage of the Holy Christ in the Fajã of the same name on the first Sunday of September, make them gather in those Fajãs many faithful in joyful and healthy conviviality.
With a central focus on devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, chosen patron saint of whalers, the feast begins in the village of Lajes do Pico on the last Sunday in August and lasts for a week called Whaling Week, during which various socio-cultural manifestations linked to the old activity of whale hunting provide life moments different from the daily life of the people of the village.
The festivities of Santa Maria Madalena, in the village of Madalena on July 22 and Bom Jesus, on August 6 in São Mateus, are other manifestations of the religious sentiments of the Pico population.
The Festa das Vindimas, during the first week of September, which evokes a centuries-old practice of the Pueblos, the cultivation of the vineyard and the production of famous wines that have even reached the table of the ancient Czars of Russia, is an occasion for the realization of activities cultural and sporting activities that, at that time, agitated the life of the Village of Madalena.
In Faial, of the many religious festivities that take place on the island, it is worth emphasizing the dedication dedicated to Our Lady of Angustias, in the city of Horta, considered, if not the largest, at least one of the greatest expressions of faith of the Faial people, its return not only inhabitants of all the island, but also people of the Pico that to the Faial moves purposely to participate in it.
Still in Faial, June 24 is a pretext for the conviviality of the people of Faial, who travel to Largo Jaime Melo and then celebrate São João, to the sound of tunas and philharmonic during some lively hours.
Traveling to the island of Flores, religious celebrations are especially important in the Sanjoaninas Festivals, in Santa Cruz and in the Festival of the Emigrant, in the Lajes das Flores, as well as the festivities of the patrons who take place in all parishes, a demonstration of the religious feeling that invades the Florentines. Especially highlight is Nossa Senhora do Rosário, in Lajes das Flores, Nossa Senhora da Conceição in Santa Cruz das Flores and Nossa Senhora das Milagres in Lagedo, not forgetting to mention also the Feast of the Kings on the Farm and Nossa Senhora da Saúde in Fajã Grande.
Evoking the patron saint of the island, the Corvo population celebrates with great devotion the Feasts of Our Lady of Miracles, on August 15 of each year. And just as in the other islands of the Archipelago, here in the Corvo the feasts in honor of the Divine Holy Spirit are lived with great enthusiasm and religious sense of its population.
Other festivities are interesting socio-cultural events in the Region
- The Maré de Agosto Festival that takes place every year from August 15, in Praia Formosa, Santa Maria;
- São Jorge Cultural Week, Vila das Velas and the Festival of Young Music (July Festival), in Vila da Calheta, which take place, respectively, in April and July, in São Jorge;
- The Whaling Party or Baleeira Week and the Harvest Festival or Week, which are held respectively in the Villages of Lajes and Madalena, in Pico, in August and September;
- The famous Sea Week in August, dedicated almost exclusively to water sports, was not the hospitable city of Horta, par excellence, the “capital of the yachtsmen” who, defying calms and storms in the Atlantic crossing, to Faial contribute to refueling and retemper of forces;
- The Festival of the Emigrant, in the village of Lajes das Flores, which takes place on the 3rd Monday of July (Municipal Holiday), at a time when the island, as its name indicates, is covered with flowers, is a reason for living during a week of emigrants who are visiting their homeland.
Also worth highlighting
- The Carnival Dances are brought to the scene in the different parishes of Terceira, in the way of social criticism or historical recreation, and the ever crowded and busy bullfights, of the square or the rope, that make their fans delirious;
- The Carnival of Graciosa, lived with great enthusiasm in the salons of local associations and clubs, where happy groups parade, from children to adults, wearing colorful and imaginative costumes;
- In Ribeira Grande is celebrated the Flower Festival in the spring, the Feast of Saint Peter in June and on February 1 the Night of the Kings where the stars are sung;
- The parade of the various Carnival Dances and Corsos that in the various islands and in various places enlivens the Carnival day, with the color of their fantasies and the “spicy” of their social and political critiques of the moment.
Several other popular festivals take place in the different villages and parishes of the islands, many of them animated by the always appreciated philharmonic or by the typical folkloric ranches, dressing in the rigor that, in their joy and freshness, they sing and dance subjects so pleasing to the listener.
Many other harmonious melodies of rich Azorean folklore, sung and danced with equal joy, enthusiasm and grace, in these nine volcanic clods spread amidst the immense sea that surrounds them, which are the Azores.