Celebration of the “Black Christ”
Today kicks off the Feast of the Lord of Miracles in Lima, one of Peru’s most revered religious festivities. Its main ceremony is the procession through the streets of Lima, the largest in South America. During this 24-hour procession 1000s of purple-clad believers follow those carrying the icon on a 2-ton litter resting on the shoulders of faithful who carry it in short shifts before passing the load onto the next group.
As they make their wayfrom the church ofLas Nazarenas, crossing downtown Lima, to the church of La Merced in Barrios Altos, singers, dancers, and vendors strew the streets with flowers. The streets fill with vendors of a wide variety of typical dishes and sweets, such as the famous Turrón de Doña Pepa, a sticky anise-flavored sweet. Its creator was a black slave, Josefa Marmanillo (Doña Pepa), who believed that her devotion to the Lord of Miracles returned to her the use of her arms and hands. It’s the signature treat of October and despite its… different… appearance, is delicious- we recommend giving it a try!
Lima’s bullfighting season in October and November is named after and held in honor of the Lord of Miracles, with the best bullfighters in the world gathering in Lima’s 200 year old bullring (the 2nd oldest in the world) to compete.
Africans in Peru, slaves as well as free, were allowed to form guilds which managed altars or chapels and served for baptisms, meetings, wakes, and sometimes economic assistance. Around 1651 the Pachamamilla guild was founded and in its seat, on one of the crude adobe walls of the slave quarters, a black angolan slave or freedman painted the famous image. Four years later 1655 a devastating earthquake shook Lima and Callao, tumbling temples, mansions, and houses, with thousands dead and injured. Pachacamilla was leveled but for the wall with the Christ painting. Meetings and masses began to be held at the image, now considered miraculous, despite the disapproval of authorities as the gatherings grew in size. The painting survived numerous attempts to erase it, another earthquake of astonishing destructive power in 1746 and subsequent tidal wave. The Church of Las Nazarenas was built around the image and a replica made for the procession, which has been held every year since the 1746 earthquake.