Lord of Miracles

Posted by Censor Librorum on Dec 3, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

Back in October, I saw a short clip and photo in the New York Times about the annual procession honoring the Lord of Miracles, the most revered Roman Catholic icon in Peru. The event, which dates back centuries, is one of the largest such gatherings in Latin America. It recalls when a slave, brought over from Angola, was said to have drawn the image of a black Christ on the wall of a hut on a plantation near Pachacamilla, near Lima. The hut is said to have been the scene of a number of miracles. Groups of men carry the wall fragment bearing the image in the procession.

The procession is the heart of a week’s celebration of the Lord of Miracles. It begins at the church of Las Nazarenas, crossing downtown Lima until it reaches the church of La Merced in Barios Altos 24 hours later. The faithful dress in purple tunics, and sing and pray as they accompany the icon.

The photo I saw showed hundreds of women in a procession that seemed to stretch back endlessly. They wore long white mantillas, and many of them appeared to be carrying chalices filled with incense. They wore deeply serious, almost grave expressions. The atmosphere didn’t seem festive or carnival-like, the way the San Gennaro Festival is in New York. Instead, the participants marched as an expression of devotion, coming together for that purpose. Each woman walked in step with the others, but I imagined her eyes turned inward, praying, focused on an interior wellspring of faith.

I was impressed. And humbled.

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