LIMA, Peru (AP) — Thousands of people crowded into downtown Lima on Saturday to participate in a procession at the start of a five-day festival that carries a painting of the capital's patron saint, the Lord of Miracles, on daily treks through the streets.
Believers, many of them dressed in purple, came to pay tribute and ask for miracles during the Andean country's largest Roman Catholic event. They accompanied a huge copy of a 17th century mural of Jesus Christ from Las Nazarenas church where it is normally kept to the Cathedral of Lima, where it was to stay overnight.
Men hoisted a heavy silver platform holding the image while women in white veils perfumed the air with smoky incense and prayed with rosaries as the procession made its way through downtown. People living in apartment buildings along the way watched from windows decorated in purple and white.
The mural of Jesus on the cross was painted by an Angolan slave in Las Nazarenas church. After a devastating earthquake in 1655, the wall with the mural was one of the few parts of the church still intact. Deeming this a miracle, people gave the image an additional name — "The Christ of Earthquakes."
A replica was made to carry in the religious procession every October, which Peruvians consider the month of earthquakes.
In the coming days, processions will carry the image past hospitals, markets and government offices before it returns to the Las Nazarenas church, where the original mural was created.