Peru celebrates Lord of Miracles, South America’s largest religious procession

World Today

Every year, the Peruvian capital Lima hosts one of the largest Catholic gatherings in the world. South America’s largest religious procession, the Lord of the Miracles, attracts tens of thousands of followers who fill the streets of the city’s downtown.

The bell rings and lift. To carry the Lord of the Miracles is an honor bestowed on few.

And it’s a weighty responsibility, each man shoulders up to 80 kilograms.

Once a year, the image of a crucified Black Christ is taken out of its home in the Narazene church and is revered in three processions in October, the last on the date of Lima’s most destructive earthquake.

Devotees stand vigil, hoping for a miracle

The original image was once adored by black slaves. Now all come before him – the infirm, the old and the young – praying for a miracle, big and small

For centuries in the earthquake-prone city of Lima, the people have put their faith in the Lord of the Miracles.

The procession begins once again this year with thousands of followers dressed in purple for one of the largest religious festivals anywhere in the world.

In downtown Lima, Avenida Tacna is awash with purple and white.

Swaying in the center of this mass of people, the replica of the original image of the Lord of the Miracles.

The original, says the church, was painted by an Angolan slave in 1651 on a mud-brick wall.

Unscathed by earthquakes over the centuries, it watched over a group of African slaves who became known as the Lord of the Miracles Brotherhood.

Centuries later, that brotherhood has thousands of members.

Some crews are Peruvian expats, many have come from New Jersey in the United States.

Just as there’s a brotherhood, there’s also a sisterhood, the Sahumadoras, or incense bearers.

Some are barefoot as a sign of devotion. This undertaking is an honor, often passed from generation to generation.

With such an outpouring of devotion, the brotherhood must ring the procession with a rope so it can move forward

Lima’s skyline looks different today but the route has barely changed, despite the earthquakes which have shaken the city over the years.

The faith and tradition which powers this procession is as strong today as it has been for hundreds of years.