LIMA – Tens of thousands of Peruvians in Lima turned out Tuesday for the traditional Lord of Miracles procession to honor the most venerated religious image in Peru, in what is the biggest public act of devotion in this country and “probably” in all Latin America.
As occurs every year in a tradition that dates back to the 17th century, the image of Christ crucified was brought forth at dawn from the Church of the Nazarenes in the Peruvian capital and was carried at the head of a long procession through the downtown area to Las Victorias Church, where it will spend the night.
The procession continues Wednesday and will end in the afternoon.
Hundreds of sisters and brothers of the Brotherhood of the Lord of Miracles, dressed in their traditional purple habits, accompanied the image, together with thousands of Lima residents who cheered, cried and held out their hands to the sacred image to implore, or give thanks for, His divine intercession.
Even Peruvian government officials headed by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski came to pay homage to the image of Christ as it was carried past Government Palace.
“This is Peru’s most important act of devotion and began almost 400 years ago. It has become a symbol of the Catholic faith not only in Peru but among Spanish-speakers everywhere,” Msgr. Adriano Tomas, auxiliary bishop of Lima, told EFE.
Msgr. Tomas said the procession of the Lord of Miracles constitutes the largest public act of worship in the country and “most probably in all Latin America,” and is anchored to a “simple, popular piety” that sustains the “true faith of the Peruvian people.”
Samuel Chion, a member of the brotherhood, also said that this faith in the image, though “impossible to understand,” is a tradition that is passed from “parents to children to grandchildren” and has led to the establishing of 135 Brotherhoods of the Lord of Miracles around the world, dedicated to venerating Him.
As tradition has it, the image of the Lord of Miracles was painted around 1651 by an Angolan slave on an adobe wall outside the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru.
When in 1655 an earthquake destroyed much of the cities of Lima and Callao, the wall on which the image of Christ was painted was left standing, and as a result, local inhabitants began to see the image as capable of miracles.
The figure was then copied in oil paints on canvas and the processions began.
During the rest of the year, the image is kept in the Monastery of the Nazarenes, whose nuns carefully preserve it.