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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Senhor Santo Cristo Festival at Ponta Delgada - Sao Miguel

The religious spirit of the Azorean is made keen by natural catastrophes and the isolation to which they were subjected for centuries, during which visits by ships were few and far between and inter-island relations were very weak, is expressed in forms that testify to the past and to a way of life that still persists.

The most important religious festivities in the Azores are held on the fifth Sunday after Easter.

Everything started at the end of the 17th century with the fame of the miracles obtained through the intercessors of the Senhor Santo Cristo (literally Lord Holy Christ), whose image is venerated in the Convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperança. The procession dates from that period, and even nowadays follows the same itinerary and covers a large part of Ponta Delgada The procession comprises tens of thousands of the faithful who come from every island in the Azores, the Azorean communities spread over the world and other origins.

At festival time the town is decorate with arches and fascinating illuminations. The streets where the procession passes are covered with carpets of artistically laid out flowers. The blessing of the bread and meat, distributed among the needy, marks the start of the festivities. This is followed on Sunday by the procession with the image under its famous baldachin decorated with flowers.

To the devotion shown by the faithful must be added the conviviality and joy of the profane part of the festivities, complete with fireworks and music played by dozens of bands. Ponta Delgada is transformed into a town full of colour and animation during the six days the festival lasts.

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