The Lord of Miracles festival (Señor de los Milagros de Nazarenas) takes places each October in Lima, Peru, leaving the city awash in purple and drawing an audience from across the continent. The festival runs October 18-28 with the main event days being the 18th, 19th and 28th. Those are the days that large portions of the city are covered in purple and hundreds of thousands flock to witness the procession of the painting that gives the festival its name.
The painting to the left was completed in the 17th century by an unknown Angolan slave who was brought to Peru from Africa. It is titled Lord of Miracles and it became a celebrated and revered piece of Peruvian history when it miraculously survived the great earthquake of 1746, which brought down nearly the entire city of Lima, except the painting.
The survival of the painting was considered to be a divine occurrence by the surviving members of the city. The resulting festival has become the largest event of its kind in Peru and one of the largest religious processions in the entire world. It helps that South America largely identifies as Catholic. In Peru alone, more than 80% of the population — about 25 million people — identify as Catholic. That percentage is on par with figures listed for the entire continent, which boasts nearly 300 million Catholics. How heavily practiced the religion actually is at times can be left largely to debate. But there is no doubt that the Lord of Miracles festival inspires even the marginally faithful to participate and celebrate each October.
The Lima-Callao earthquake of 1746 was estimated to be between 8.6 and 8.8 in magnitude, making it the second largest in the history of the country behind the 1868 strike in Arica, far to the south. It also ranks behind only the 1970 Lima earthquake as the deadliest in the country’s history.
The original image of a dark Christ was painted on the walls of a hut on a plantation in Pachacamilla, near Lima. It survived repeated attempts at being erased over the years, until an earthquake changed the course of history and made the painting one of the most celebrated images in the country. During the 24 hour procession the painting sits atop a two ton platform that is supported by the shoulders of the faithful, who carry it from Las Nazarenas church through the city to La Merced in Barrios Altos. This is where thousands gather in purple to sing hymns and pray.
Other occurrences surrounding the festival include a large procession of street vendors feeding the masses on their pilgrimage. As Lima is one of the great culinary destinations on the continent, this gathering of vendors providing a wide variety of dishes can be a pleasant surprise. Similarly, a series of bullfights, also bearing the name of the festival and occurring in October, takes place featuring some of the most famous bull fighters in the world.
Interested in checking it out? Contact our Travel Team and one of our Travel Consultants would be happy to help you plan your trip. You can also look at other nearby destinations to include on your trip by using our three-step Peru custom tour form.