The Holy Spirit celebrations

     There is a beautiful catholic commemoration in Portugal that even non religious people love to attend. It is what we call the Divino Espírito Santo (or Divine Holy Spirit) and it is a festivity that is held for around 700 years now and was started by a queen.

     Isabel was a Spanish dame who came to marry the Portuguese king Dinis in the 13th century. A devoted spouse and profoundly religious, Isabel was known by her good will and charity. She was said to be so good that she was considered a saint a few centuries after her death.

     Queen Isabel had a special devotion for the Holy Spirit and the Pentecost which are a symbol for purity at heart, of God’s kindness in every man. In the Spanish region where she was raised, big festivities were held to celebrate them, 50 days after Easter. When she brought this tradition to Portugal it was a huge success from the very beginning

     The celebrations started taking place in the towns owned by the queen such as Óbidos, Tomar, Alenquer and others. The rituals included a procession in honor of the Holy Spirit with a child taking the lead and everyone dressed in white and barefooted, even the queen. The poor would be given meat and bread and their feet would be washed by the wealthier as a sign of humbleness.

     These rituals haven’t changed much since those days and this is still a very important tradition in certain regions, such as the Azores where it is a way of bringing the communities of the 9 islands together. It is one of the favorite religious festivities in Portugal as it celebrates the best in the human being.

    If you have some time, come next weekend and see for yourself what I am talking about, I am sure you won’t forget about it.