Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/153

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Folklore of the Azores. 137

and from that time till now the O has remained fixed to every date-stone, and a little round mark will be found near the centre of each.

Ceremonies and Festivals.

Santo Christ 0.

It is said that towards the end of the seventeenth century a large chest was washed ashore at Caloura, near the Ponta da Galera. When opened it was found to contain a wooden figure or bust, supposed to represent Christ. This was placed in the convent of the Esperanya, at Ponta Delgada, then in course of construction or just finished and has been kept there ever since. It is wa.tched by a nun, who has sole charge of it, and is known as the ' Ecce Homo,' or ' O santo Christo dos milagres ' (The Holy Christ of the Miracles), as it is believed to work miracles. One of the nuns in charge of it, the Madre Theresa da Annunciada, used often to consult it, and was always answered. Anyone suffering from severe illness believes that he will be cured on sending for its cape to put on. Once every year it is paraded along the streets, and thou- sands flock in to see it, bringing offerings, so that it is possessed of vast riches. A lady will often vow to give it all her jewels or property if her prayer be granted. In times of drought or famine it is also carried along the streets, while the priests chant the litany. On such occa- sions it is not dressed in its gala robes, but in its every-day vestments, as a sign of humiliation. During their visit to St. Michael's last year the King and Queen of Portugal walked in the Santo Christo procession. The nuns of the convent mourn and weep all the time that the image is absent on the procession.

Imperios do Espirito Santo.

Among the curious customs kept up in the Azores are the Imperios do Espirito Santo,' or Empires of the Holy Ghost.