The “Círio de Nazaré” as it is called, is defined by Whikipédia (the Portuguese version of Wikipedia) as being in devotion to Lady of Nazareth, and is the largest religious manifestation of Catholics in Brazil and the largest religious event in the world, gathering about six million people in each one of it's veneration’s and processions. In Portugal it is celebrated on September 8 in the small town of Nazareth, and is celebrated, since 1793, in the city of Belém do Pará, each year, on the second Sunday in October. The term “Círio” has it's origin in the Latin work “Cereus,” that means large candle. In Brazil, in the beginning it was an evening pilgrimage, or even done at night, therefore the use of candles. In the year 1854, to avoid the repetition of torrential rains such as happened in the year before, the procession began to take place in the morning.
Some are considering the “Círio de Nazaré” in Belém do Pará, as being the largest religious manifestation on the planet. It is able to assemble more than two million people in one morning.
The stages of the celebration:
Currently the manifestations of religious devotion extend over a period of fifteen days, during the so-called Nazareth court. Among the high points of this manifestation, the following stand out:
The Transporting of Our Lady
Given this name because it marks the trajectory of the image of Lady of Nazareth, from the Basilica of Nazareth, through the streets of the city until the main church, in the municipal of Ananindeua, a neighboring municipal of Belém. This journey is carried out in an open car, and the Lady receives numerous homages. The image, spends the night in this municipal, were the people stay in vigil all night. This Pilgrimage happens on the night of Friday to Saturday, before the Sunday of the círio.
The Highway Pilgrimage
After one night in Ananindeua, and a mass, the image leaves before sunrise on another pilgrimage, this time in another direction, the town of Icoaraci, district of Belém. Even though it is before daybreak, the faithful followers wait for the passing of the image, once again, rendering numerous homages. The procession is accompanied by the directors of the círio in their cars, also by politicians, firemen, ambulances, official and civil vehicles. This is why it is called the Highway Pilgrimage.
In this pilgrimage, the image is taken by boat, by way of the Guajará Bay, which surrounds the city of Balém, and is followed by many other boats, that are decorated according to the condition of each owner. In this procession you can see boats, yachts, and even simple canoes of the “ribeirinho” people that follow the procession. This journey from Icoaraci to Belém can take up to 5 hours. Upon arriving at the port of the city, it is received by a multitude and more homages are given. This pilgrimage was introduced in 1985, as a way to honor all those who depend on the rivers of the region, such as the “ribeirinha” population, that, because of their poverty cannot go to Belém, and by this, can now pay their own homages.
At about 11:00 am on Saturday, the image of the Saint arrives at the port of Belém. From there the image continues in an open car, now followed by many motorcyclist that blow their horns incessantly, announcing the passing of the image, the people stop in the streets, come out of their houses, and welcome her, with their hands raised high, as to ask for blessings. The Pilgrimage extends through the streets of the city till it reaches the Gentil Bittencourt School, where yet another multitude of faithfuls awaits the image. Then, at night, just after another mass, the Transport begins.
The transportation of the image happens on the night before the Círio, in a candle light procession. It is symbolic of the legend of the discovery of the image and it's return to the original place where it was found. In this ceremony only the Berlinda (car in which the image of the Lady is carried) is used, in a trajectory that is the inverse of the Círio.
The Círio Procession
This actually gathers the most faithfuls (2 million, 250 thousand in 2010), in a procession, that in the past has taken about nine hours, today due to better organization and planning takes less time, and covers a distance of about five kilometers (about 3.1 miles) between the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Basilica of Nazareth. This celebration is divided in three moments: the Círio event, begins at six o’clock in the morning with the celebration of a mass, after which the faithful move to the streets along the trajectory. At seven o’clock, the Archbishop conducts the image of the Lady to the Berlinda, to begin the Círio. The image arrives at the Basilica of Nazareth before noon and is taken out of the Berlinda for the liturgical celebrations.
This happens two weeks after the Círio, and is a goodbye procession.
It is said that the image of Lady of Nazareth was found under a tree in 1700 by a man named Plácido de Souza, and it is 11 inches tall. According to local tradition, the man of Portuguese and indigenous decent, took the image home and cleaned it up, but the next morning it was inexplicably back at the same place he had found it. This happened several times, until the man interpreted this as a divine sign, and decided to build a shrine for the image at that location, which is now the back side of the Basilica of Nazareth in Belém do Pará.
Information gathered from: http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%ADrio_de_Nossa_Senhora_de_Nazar%C3%A9
Picture is from: http://noticias.terra.com.br/brasil/noticias/0,,OI5402176-EI8139,00-Cirio+de+Nazare+reune+milhoes+de+pessoas+em+Belem.html#tphotos
Translated by James Timothy Allen
Please pray for the salvation of souls in Brazil.
January/February 2015 Prayer/Update Letter
4 years ago