How Christians Celebrate El Señor de los Milagros (The Purple Christ) in Peru
370 years of powerful events and miracles back up the undying faith Christian Peruvians have in el Señor de los Milagros or the Purple Christ, a sacred image in the Latin American country they celebrate with the most fervor in October.
Let’s explore the origin of the Señor de los Milagros, and how people in Peru venerate him every October.
History of the Purple Christ
The miraculous history of the Purple Christ dates back to Colonial times.
In 1651, a time when many slaves had come to America, a believer from Angola drew an image of Jesus Christ on a wall of the Monastery of Las Nazarenas in Pachacamilla, Lima. When an earthquake struck, the whole city suffered the damages—except the wall with the image of Christ. For this reason, they rebuilt the church around the wall.
Another severe earthquake hit Peru on November 13th in 1655, and once again, the sturdy wall remained. The miraculous story made people want to venerate the image even more.
By 1671, believers found images of the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene. Because of this, they commissioned painter José de la Parra to add paintings of the Eternal Father and the Holy Spirit.
As the Spanish remained in control, the Viceroyalty of Peru noticed how strongly people believed in the image—they disapproved of people venerating it because they claimed there were non-catholic rituals involved.
In an attempt to stop the tradition, they tried to cover it up. However, they didn’t succeed, which only drove people to believe in the miraculous Christ with even more fervency.
Yet another earthquake struck on October 20th in 1687 and it still did not affect the image.
After this third tragedy, they ordered an oil painting based on the image so they could take it out to the streets for everyone to see it. This is how the tradition of processions in Peru began.
Shockingly enough, there was another earthquake on October 27th in 1746. According to the story, the destructive phenomenon stopped the moment people took the oil painting out to the streets.
Plenty of Reasons for Veneration
“It is the most beautiful proof of God’s love for the beloved Peruvian people,” stated Pope Francis last year, about the Purple Christ.
Disaster after disaster, the image remained unaffected. The Purple Christ of Pachacamilla had a unique power that people just could not ignore.
Not only did it withstand, but people also guarantee that when they have prayed to the Señor de los Milagros for their health crises their afflictions have disappeared.
The first procession with the image of the Purple Christ goes out on the first Saturday of the month. However, from October 18th to the 28th, many processions take the historical image to the streets.
Although last year the tricentenary tradition of processions in honor of the Lord of the Miracles did not take place, Pope Francis encouraged believers to not lose faith in Him, and to put the fate of those affected by the pandemic on Him.
Processions: An Endless Tradition
October is el Mes Morado for Peruvians, and this expression is quite literal. Many go the whole month dressing in purple in honor of their Señor de los Milagros.
Peru also holds the record for their 24-hour long procession, the largest one in the whole continent. Aside from this one, many processions also take place during the month and people in purple tunics accompany the oil painting along the streets singing hymns and saying their prayers.
The first procession leaves the Monastery of Las Nazarenas on the first Saturday of October at noon, and it tours the streets until nighttime.
While people venerate the image many times as they take it all over the city, on October 31st they take it around the Convent and Church of the Nazarenas until they return it on November 1st.
For those who like crowds and pompous celebrations, they can go out on the streets and see the Purple Christ up close. Some even take the opportunity to watch the processions from their balconies and turn the image into a more colorful one with flower petals and confetti.
There are some who do not enjoy going out as much or getting lost in big crowds, but that does not stop them from praying to the Lord of Miracles.
People light candles to honor the images of the Purple Christ at home or at work, and prepare an altar to have a place where to pray. They thank him for his miracles and ask for miracles for their own personal situations, trusting him with their hardships.
A Traditional Dessert To Celebrate Peruvians’ Faith
Peruvians’ Turron de Doña Pepa should be first on your list when visiting Peru. They prepare this with layers of cookies with anise and spread cane syrup and caramels over it.
The name comes from a woman that experienced one of Purple Christ’s miracles. She once suffered from paralysis, but after trusting her prayers to the Lord of the Miracles, she recovered. Astonished and grateful, she prepared her dessert and passed on the recipe to coming generations.
Visit Traditional Peru
We want you to be ready for your next adventure, here are some awesome places you can visit in this wonderful country!
Stationary Lagoon of Huamanpata
This magical lagoon offers a landscape of forests where you can walk by to enjoy the silence of the world and the sound of nature. Take canoe trips and take a break at night for stargazing or meditation.
If you are passionate about the seas and marine wildlife, this place is for you! Rocky islands are a view you cannot miss, so be sure you book a boat ride to admire these wonders of nature.
Forests and Waterfalls
Stunning mountains and rivers will impress you as you visit the tropical forests that are part of the Amazon. Río Abiseo National Park is a must for you if you want to experience breathtaking rivers.
Prepare Your Spanish
Peru has a lot to offer aside from interesting traditions, astonishing islands, the historical city of Cusco, the unique Rainbow Mountain, and so much more awaits you!
Be sure to polish your Spanish by signing up to a free one-on-one class with one of our native Spanish-speaking teachers that will enhance your learning for you to become a super fluent speaker in no time! Join our HSA family today!
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