Círio de Nazaré

The Círio de Nazaré (Wax Candle of Nazareth), takes place in October...

The Círio de Nazaré (Wax Candle of Nazareth), takes place in October, in the city of Belém, in Pará State, and attracts worshippers from all over the country. It is considered the oldest Christian celebration in Brazil. In 2019, the celebration reaches its 227th edition. It usually unites two million travelers and religious people. The most important day is the second Sunday of October, when the image of the Virgin is transported through the town, from the Metropolitan Cathedral to the Nazareth Basilica.

The history behind the Virgin of Nazareth dates from the 1700s, when the image was found in a riverbed and rescued by a man, who took it home. No-one knows how, but this image returned to the place where it had been found – and this kept happening every time someone removed it from this location. Due to this miracle, people started to honor the Virgin. However, the Círio began in 1773, when the image returned from Portugal, where it had been undergoing a restoration process. When it arrived in Belém, it was followed by thousands of worshippers. The tradition was then established.

One hallmark of this pilgrimage is the twisted sisal rope: worshippers queue up to hold it because holding it is major proof of their faith, since it also provides great spiritual force. This deed also requires great strength: the rope is 400 meters in length (1,312 feet) and weights nearly 700 kilos (1,543 pounds).