Peru Holds Annual Processions for the Lord of the Miracles

Every October, Peru's capital city -Lima- looks as if dyed purple, as followers of the highly venerated image of the Lord of the Miracles celebrate its annual processions on October 18, 19 and 28. People from all racial and economic backgrounds participate in the processions.

Around 1651, black Angolan slaves came together and built a site for their brotherhood in Pachacamilla, in the outskirts of Lima. On one of the building's walls, an unknown Angolan slave captured the image of a crucified Christ on a rough wall. The anonymous slave carried out the painting moved only by his unbreakable faith.

Four years later, on 1655, an earthquake hit Lima and neighboring Callao. Many buildings collapsed, including the walls of the site of the brotherhood of Pachacamilla –all but the wall where the crucified Christ was painted.

On October 20, 1687, another violent earthquake hit Lima and Callao, and one of its aftershocks caused the collapse of the shrine built to honor the crucified Christ. But the image stood strong. An oil painting of the image was made, and for the first time, that replica painting was taken around Pachacamilla on a portable platform which allowed the faithful to pray and express their devotion.

Since then, every October the same oil painting of the Lord of the Miracles presides the procession, followed by thousands of devout believers. Women wear purple dresses with a white rope as belt, while men wear purple ties.

The portable platform is carried on the shoulders of members of the Lord of the Miracles Brotherhood, a religious association made up of about 5000 members divided into twenty squads, honorary brothers, and two groups: cantoras and sahumadoras (female singers and incense burners). The leader is a general foreman appointed by the Archbishop of Lima.

Sahumadoras walking along the procession. Photo by Global Voices contributor Isabel Guerra, used with permission.

As usual, this year the procession was followed by bloggers and Twitter users alike.

The blog Historia y fotos [es] reviews the history of the image and shares some events that happened around it:

Entre el 6 y el 12 de setiembre de aquel año llegó a la ermita de Pachacamilla una comitiva, que incluía un pintor que acercó su escalera a la pared y extendió su mano con la brocha para borrar la venerada imagen de Cristo. En ese momento sufrió un desmayo y tuvieron que sostenerle para que no cayera. Al recuperarse lo intentó de nuevo, pero al darle el primer brochazo, quedó paralizado, después de lo cual se negó rotundamente a intentarlo de nuevo.

Un alarife lo intentó voluntariamente, pero también quedó paralizado. Luego nadie se atrevió a intentarlo. En ese momento se oscureció el cielo y comenzó una gran lluvia, como nunca se había visto en Lima.

Los devotos testigos de aquellos sucesos murmuraban que eran señales de Dios, que no quería que se borrara la imagen.

On September 6-12 that year [1671], a commission arrived to the Pachacamilla shrine, including a painter who put his stepladder by the wall and held out his hand to overpaint the much worshiped image of Christ. He fainted and had to be held not to fall down. Upon recovering, he tried again, but was paralyzed and he refused to try again.

A builder tried the same voluntarily, but he was also paralyzed. No one else even dared to try again. Then the skies went dark and an unprecedented huge rain began, something never seen in Lima.

Devout witnesses mumbled that those were signs from God, that He didn't want the image to be deleted.

It is worth mentioning that in Lima there are no heavy rains, just drizzles that can go on for hours.

The blog Universidad 21 [es] informs citizens with a detailed recount of the processions’ route in Lima, illustrated with maps.

This devotion is also present in the interior of the country, like in the city of Tacna. The blog Tacneños [es] shares news on the city's procession:

En octubre, mes morado. Como todos los años cientos de fieles, acompañan a la imagen del Señor de los Milagros en su recorrido procesional. Este es el recorrido procesional del Señor de los Milagros para el 18 y 28 de octubre en la ciudad de Tacna.

On October, purple month. As each year, hundreds of faithful followers walk with the image of Lord of the Miracles on its processional tour. This is the Lord of the Miracles processional tour for October 18 and 28 in the city of Tacna.

Members of the Lord of the Miracles Brotherhood. Photo by Global Voices contributor Isabel Guerra, used with permission.

Meanwhile, Twitter users have been posting their own share of views.

Actor Jesús Neyra (@Jesusneyra) [es] poses a question:

@Jesusneyra: Señor de los milagros q recorres nuestras calles :-) #mesmorado #espiritumorado mi deseo te lo mando ya?

@Jesusneyra: Lord of the Miracles that travels across our streets :-) #mesmorado [purple month] #espiritumorado [purple spirit] should I send you my wish now?

And Karen Ruiz (@karen_rfer) [es] asks him:

@karen_rfer: @Jesusneyra alla en usa hay procesion?porq aca en buenos aires si hay todos los años voy con mi familia,no es como en Peru pero es muy lindo.

@karen_rfer: @Jesusneyra Is there a procession in the US? Because here in Buenos Aires there is one, every year I go with my family. It's not like in Peru but it is very nice.

Juanpi Pozú Pflucker (@juanpipp) [es] sends a picture to Jesús Neyra:

@juanpipp: @Jesusneyra para ti hermano, la tomé hace un rato… Éxitos y exageraaa!

@juanpipp: @Jesusneyra for you, my brother, I took it a while ago… All the best and exaggerate!

Local TV station (@NoticiAmerica) [es] shares a video and mentions Peruvian President Ollanta Humala:

@NoticiaAmerica: [VIDEO] Ollanta Humala fue abucheado durante el recorrido del Señor de los Milagros

@NoticiaAmerica:[VIDEO] Ollanta Humala was booed during procession of Lord of the Miracles

Viajaporperu Indira (@viajaporperu) [es] expresses her surprise:

@viajaporperu: No sabía que la procesión del señor de los milagros se realiza en 260 paises!!!

@viajaporperu: I didn't know that the procession of the Lord of the Miracles is held in 260 countries!!!

As to confirm that fact, from Santiago de Chile, Marion Duarte (@marionfernanda) [es] shares a picture and tweets:

@marionfernanda: La procesión por diagonal Paraguay del señor de los milagros cc. nico_brown

@marionfernanda: Procession of the Lord of the Miracles [passing] by diagonal Paraguay cc. nico_brown

Adrián (@sspxs) [es], from Mexico, shares a picture too:

@sspxs: Procesión del Señor de los Milagros (@ Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo) w/ 23 others) [pic]:

@sspxs: Procession of Lord of the Miracles (@ Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo) w/ 23 others) [pic]:

User Humbero Meneses (@elyuka) [es] tweets about a replica that is close to his house:

@elyuka: Hoy es el día en que [la réplica del] el Señor de los Milagros de Polvos Rosados (?) pasa por la puerta de mi jato [casa]. Para mi mamá, esto es mejor que Navidad.

@elyuka: Today, the Polvos Rosados [replica of] Lord of the Miracles goes by the door of my house. For my mom, this is better that Christmas.

The last procession is scheduled for November 1, starting at 11:30 am. The actual Lord of the Miracles, the one painted by the Angolan slave, remains all year long in the Nazarenas church, in downtown Lima, where people can go an pay respects at any time.

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