One of Peru’s most prominent religious festivals, the Lord of Miracles, will kick off on October 18th, lasting ten days. October is known as the Purple Month in Lima, which isn’t surprising considering that you’ll see the color appearing everywhere throughout those weeks. In honor of the city’s patron saint, some devotees wear this color all month long. One of Peru’s most popular soccer teams, Alianza Lima, even changes the color of their team jerseys for the month.
Who is the Lord of Miracles? In the 1650s, Angolan slaves and freedmen formed the Pachacamilla guild, which managed religious services (like baptisms and funerals) and provided economic assistance within the community. One of its members painted the image now known as the Lord of Miracles (or the Black Christ) on a crude adobe wall of the slave quarters. Four years later, an earthquake devastated Lima and Callao, leveling all of Pachacamilla except for the wall with the Christ painting. As meetings and masses began to be held at the image, authorities attempted to halt them. The image survived numerous attempts to erase it, as well as another incredibly destructive earthquake and subsequent tidal wave. Finally, authorities accepted the growing cult, the Church of Nazcarenas was built around the image and the processions began.
The main event is one of South America’s largest processions, during which the image is taken from its home church Las Nazarenas and to other historic colonial churches, accompanied by the incense and drums of the faithful. The main procession lasts 24 hours, with thousands taking part. The icon is carried on a 2-ton litter by groups (brotherhoods) who work in short shifts before passing the load on to the next group. They are accompanied by singers and dancers as the streets are strewn with flowers and confetti.
The streets fill with vendors offering a wide variety of treats, but the signature choice for October is the Turrón de Doña Pepa, a sticky anise-flavored pastry created by a black slave who credited the Lord of Miracles with restoring the use of her arms and hands. If you’re one of those who find the turrón too sweet, you can opt for picarones, pumpkin fritters in syrup. Another traditional choice associated with the festivities are the skewered beef hearts known as anticuchos.
Lima’s bullfighting season also begins in October, and is named in honor of the Lord of Miracles. Some of the world’s best bullfighters gather at the Plaza de Acho, which at 246 years old is the second oldest bullring in the world which is still in use. Events take place every Sunday afternoon, with cheap tickets in the sun and expensive ones in the shade. There’s a growing antitaurino movement in Lima as well, pushing for a ban on bullfighting (which in Peru is to the death). This means you are also likely to see protestors outside the stadium.
For assistance with transport or excursions for Lima, Peru, feel free to contact Pirwa Travel Service, with more than 10 years experience providing travel services throughout Peru and Bolivia!