When the Azorean people think about May, the first thought is the Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres Festival. It’s known as the biggest religious festival in the Azores and the second biggest in the country, bringing thousands of pilgrims from all over the world to São Miguel’s island.
According to byAçores, a web portal for tourism and promotion of the Azores, the legend goes that “the story of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres started in Água de Pau, in the Convent of Caloura. The people were a little removed from religion and faith, so the nuns at the time prayed that the population would have faith and love for the Lord again. They believed that the presence of a new religious image in that Convent would lead to an awakening of faith again. They wrote a letter to the Pope, asking him for the image they desired. The request was not granted. Later, when pirates were sailing the Azores’ sea, a ship was attacked and ended up being totally destroyed. On that same day, the nuns saw a box near the coast that shone brightly and seemed to have a light inside. They went there to check what was in the box, and when they opened it, they found a bust of Christ, with a lively look and a humble expression.”
The image was kept in the Convent and suddenly, the faith of the locals started to grow. After some years, fearing that the image would be stolen by pirates, the nuns took the image of Santo Cristo to the Convento da Esperança, in Campo de São Francisco, in Ponta Delgada, where the image is still located today.
As the appearance of this image was seen by the nuns as a miracle, the people believed that the Saint could practice miracles. Since then, there have been several help requests for Santo Cristo. After the requests are accomplished, the population rewards the Saint, by paying it back through flowers, candles, and money. A lot of people pay their respects by walking on their knees around the Campo de São Francisco.
In addition to the whole cult, there is also the festival part. The city of Ponta Delgada is filled with the famous “food booth” full of snacks, sweets, and traditional Azorean food, a small amusement park, and several kiosks for clothes and accessories.
Currently and for the second consecutive year, the celebrations were made only through television. Nevertheless, a lot of people went to the Sanctuary, even with the doors closed, to pay their tribute by taking flowers, candles, and even to pay their promise. It should be noted that safety was always present in this small celebration.
We hope that by 2022 we will be able to celebrate Santo Cristo as we are used to!