Throughout October, hundreds of thousands of faithful Peruvians celebrate Lima’s patron Saint El Señor de los Milagros, or “The Lord of Miracles,” in what is one the largest and most significant Catholic processions in South America. October is known as “Purple Month” throughout Lima, and the faithful outwardly display their devotion by decorating the streets and dressing in purple.
The patron Saint is materialized and symbolized by a 17th century painting of a dark-skinned Jesus Christ by an Angolan slave. The highly controversial painting survived futile attempts at Colonial destruction, and its survival is part of the reason the image is so venerated. It went on to withstand the deadly earthquake in 1746 that destroyed the entire church housing the painting except for the wall bearing the image. Its astonishing survival spread throughout the country and thousands gathered to partake in a procession to venerate the image. From this point on, the painting has held a particular significance, and the annual processions continued to celebrate its perseverance. The Church of the Nazarenas was constructed around the wall that survived amidst the rubble and the painting is displayed prominently.
Today marks the start of one of the largest and most significant Catholic processions in Peru, a 24-hour parade beginning at this church and finishing at the Church of La Merced in Barrios Altos. The sacred painting is adorned in silver, the representative purple, and flowers and is carried through the city with thousands of followers singing hymns of adoration and hoping to benefit from the supposed miraculous healing powers the painting is said to possess. Church bells ring, candles are lit, incense is burned, and vendors provide the famous Turrón de Doña Pepa, a dessert associated with the month of October and this famous procession in Peru.
If you find yourself in Lima particularly near the city center, be sure to look for this prominent celebration. You can also include a viewing of this procession or other notable events in Peru in your hand-tailored visit.