I visited Belem-do-Para to see the largest catholic procession and one of the biggest religious events in the world, Círio de Nazaré, that happens every October. The most important festival of the region celebrates, between the profane and the sacred, the devotion to the Virgin of Nazaré, the Amazon Mother.
In 2015 it gathered 2.8 million people, according to estimates.
Is believed that Plácido, a humble cattleman who lived through the region, found a small statue of Virgin Nazaré. He took the statue home, and the next morning it reappeared inexplicably on the river banks. This happened on several times, so
it was understood as a divine sing from the saint and was built the Basílica of Nazaré, close to where it was found.
On friday, prior to the Sunday of Círio starts the celebrations. Around 9:00 am begins the transfer, the image travels from the Basílica of Nazaré to Ananindeua, city just outside Belém. The people spend the night in vigil until the the image passes by. Aftert that, goes to Icoaraci, another little city by Belém.
Then begins River Pilgrimage, which leads to Belém in the middle of the morning.
At 6h00 am we were on the boat, going towards the Pilgrimage. As the hours tick by, boats coming from distant islands begin to arrive. Suddenly there are hundreds.
The Saint arrives near the Ver-o-Peso in Belém Pier.
After the Pilgrimage River ends the Arrastão do Círio, by Arraial do Pavulagem: party with cultural music, dance, hats and miriti toys.
At night starts the night pilgrimage, one of the most beautiful parts. This ceremony goes on the path contrary to the Círio and recall the discovery of the image in a procession by candlelight, recalling belief of the Saint going to where she was found.
The profane side shines with the Party of Chiquita, when the pilgrimage is ended. The party which is not recognized by the organization, has huge audience that attends the Praça da Republica to see shows transsexuals, drag queens presentation, all with lots of color and political consciousness.
On Sunday morning, after the service at 6:00 am, the image is taken of the Metropolitan Cathedral to Basilica of Nazaré, joining thousands of faithful ones on their way through 5km.
Many faithful vigil throughout the night, and in the morning join the saint all the way, holding the rope.
The rope is 400 meters long and is the greatest symbol of the pilgrimage, considered an extension of Saint to the faithful ones.
It’s lots, lots of people.
They squeeze along the way to greet the Virgin with all due respect, affection and intimacy. Many carry small houses under the head, other books. Each with their wish and their faith. Many make the journey to the knees.
After the passage of the Virgin families to gather for lunch, something like Christmas dinner for Christians in general. Círio de Narazé is the anual homecoming.
Although not Catholic, it thrilled me several times. It a lot of faith, love, a wonderful energy. The Pará people make a beautiful party for Mother of Earth, and its worth knowing, regardless of religion.
When you decide to visit, look for the flight in advance and try to find some promotion, the tickets are very expensive at this time.
To see other Belem tips, click here.