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Religious Festivals – How to Celebrate Círio de Nazaré in Brazil

March 31, 2023
Belem is home to the religious feast Cirio de Nazare

The celebration Círio de Nazaré in Brazil is an important religious and Catholic festival celebrated in honor of Our Lady of Nazaré. This fascinating ceremony is part of Brazilian culture. Círio is a manifestation of faith and devotion. The festival has been celebrated in Belém for over 200 years and has been declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. In 1793, the first procession was held in honor of the patron saint of the people of Pará. Since then, Círio de Nazaré has been held every year and always attracts a large number of believers. So, if you want to learn about this religious tradition for your Brazil vacation, read on!

The history of the Virgin

The history of the Círio begins in 1700 with the discovery of the image of the Virgin of Nazaré by the Caboclo Plácido on the banks of a stream near the present-day Basilica of the Pilgrimage of the Virgin of Nazaré. "Círio" comes from the Latin word "cereus" and means "large candle", used on Holy Saturday to indicate the presence of the risen Jesus Christ.

An intense experience in October

The Feast of the Virgin of Nazareth takes place in October with the Círio and twelve other processions, including the Trasladação, the Romaria Rodoviária, the Romaria Fluvial, the Círio das Crianças, and the Recírio. During the two-week festival, millions of people flock to the streets of Belém, where an extensive program of events also takes place. Masses, prayer vigils, the Arraial de Nazaré, the musical Círio, and the descent of the image of grace to the altar of the Basilica of Pilgrimage, where it can be seen during the festival. The month of October is also called the "Month of the Círio". It is a phenomenon of very strong popular religiosity, joyful and devotional. That is why it is usually said that it is again the Círio, it is "another year of joy and great love for Mary and her Son Jesus Christ," emphasizes the Bishop of Marabá.

A long devotion

The Círio is a long devotion that expresses the relationship of the people of God to the Mother of the Lord. It is a public demonstration of God's love through Mary that continues in our homes and in the lives of the people. This religious feast in Belém brings together thousands of pilgrims from different parts of Brazil. It is the place where the image of Our Lady of Nazareth is placed, generally surrounded by flowers and lights. The image is protected by glass so that it shines inside. The effigy represents the Mother of Eternal Love holding her Son in her arms. Brazilians believe that petitions made to Mary with faith and love lead to Jesus Christ, her Son.

Great joy through symbolic religiosity

Many people look forward to this time of redemption of promises. In the great procession, people walk down the streets of Belém with a brick on their head or in their hand to symbolize the house they may have bought or will one day own. People make promises. Others walk barefoot under a scorching sun to keep a promise. Still others wear a cross as a follower of Jesus Christ, or it is a request for forgiveness for their mistakes and a willingness to repent in their family and community. Many people pray a decade or a mystery of the rosary. The promises always have the meaning of a retribution for the gifts that Jesus Christ received from the hands of Our Lady.

This is another very important symbol of the Círio. Since people would like to touch the Berlinda, on which is the image of Our Lady of Nazareth, but this is not possible because of the many people on the streets, there is the rope of the Berlinda. People hold on to the rope, one hand close to the other, so that there is no free space, but many stand on the Rope of Berlinda and can thus say that they participate in the feast.

The lights always reflect a theme for our lives as followers of Jesus Christ, usually associated with the Fraternity Campaign. The candle is Marian and has its roots in the vision of Mary fulfilling God's plan. It also includes the figure of St. Joseph, adoptive father of Jesus Christ and head of the Holy Family.

The cradle

The priests and faithful receive with joy and love the image of Our Lady in the cradle that visits the parish. Usually the bishop is present during these visits and presides over the Eucharistic celebration along with the pastor. This visit brings joy and peace to the people as they pray for their needs or ask for grace for their family, their street, their parish, and society in general.
When the cradle passes through the streets of Belém, many people stop not only to take a photo, but especially to kneel down in a prayerful posture, closing their eyes and saying a prayer of thanksgiving with their hands. Others are moved when they see the cradle with the Blessed Mother.

A pilgrimage of a special kind

The importance of the Círio in the lives of people who follow the faith of Christianity in Brazil has grown tremendously over the years. It helps carry the Gospel message to families, communities, parishes, and the world. For all Christians and non-Christians, this festival is a spectacle; for believers, the celebration has even greater significance. So if you are in Belém on your Brazil trip in October, be sure to pay the Círio a visit!

Sources: www.ciriodenazare.com.br, www.vaticannews.va

Source: Aventura do Brasil