The Señor de los Milagros procession that takes place in Lima, Peru is one of the most important Catholic events in the world. Learn more about the tradition.
The Lord of Miracles (in Spanish: Señor de los Milagros de Nazarenas) refers to a mural of Jesus Christ painted by an African slave from Angola in 17th century Lima, Peru. It was painted on an adobe wall behind the High Altar of the Sanctuary and Monastery of Las Nazarenas in the neighborhood of Pachacamilla in Lima’s historic center.
The mural renders a crucified Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit. God the Father, the Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene, at the foot of the cross, were added later.
Earthquakes and a miracle
A destructive earthquake hit the Lima area on November 13, 1655. Buildings throughout the city were destroyed, but the adobe wall with the mural remained standing. Seen as a miraculous occurrence, neighbors in Pachacamilla, mostly African, began to venerate the image.
At that time, the viceroyalty of Peru wanted to prohibit the gatherings to venerate the image since they involved non-Catholic activities. When three men were ordered to paint over the image, they were unable to do so because of its mysterious power. The Church ultimately accepted the veneration of the image, building a small chapel for it.
Another devastating earthquake hit Lima on October 20, 1687, which chroniclers of the time say lasted 15 minutes. While the chapel was destroyed, to the surprise of all the adobe wall with the image of the Señor de Los Milagros remained standing.
Because of this second miraculous event, authorities ordered an oil painting copy be made so the image can be taken out to the streets, thus starting the tradition of the procession. The oil painting was restored in 1991 by the Museo Pedro de Osma.
The earthquake of October 27, 1746 was Peru’s most destructive. It vanished the entire city, and it is said that the copy image of the Señor de Los Milagros was taken to the streets and the earth stopped shaking. The devotion for the Lord of Miracles only grew from there.
October: Purple month in Peru
The image of El Señor de Los Milagros is taken out throughout the month of October. The first procession is on the first Saturday of the month, when it is taken from the Monastery of Las Nazarenas at noon and enters the Sanctuary at night.
Every year, in October, hundreds of thousands of faithfuls from all races and economic backgrounds celebrate the Lord of Miracles. The devotees of El Señor de Los Milagros dress in purple habits, accented by a white rope used as a belt. Thus the month of October is considered the purple month in Peru.
Turrón de Doña Pepa: A sweet tradition
The story goes that, in the 18th century, an African slave cook named Josefa Marmanillo suffered from paralysis. Having heard of the miraculous Señor de Los Milagros of Pachacamilla, she placed her faith in him, thus recovering from her ailment.
As a thank you, she began to prepare and offer her sweet nougat, which then became known as Turrón de Doña Pepa.
Watch more of the procession below:
Cover photo: Andina
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