Santachem Pursao (Procession of Saints) at Goa Velha
Every year thousands of people flock from different parts of Goa and the world to the village of Goa-Velha to take part in the ‘world famous procession of Saints’. The Church of St Andrew in Goa Velha, hosts the procession on the fifth Monday of Lent. This tradition began in the 17th century by the Franciscan Order in an attempt to boost the moral values and pious behaviour of the community and inspire them to take to their hearts the teachings of Jesus Christ.
By the 18th century, a total of 65 life-size richly decorated statues of saints, martyrs, kings, and queens were carried in palanquins on the shoulders of Native Christians. In 1835, the event was banned by the Marquis of Pombal and during this period, many images and vestment were left uncared, vandalised and destroyed.
The procession of Saints re-started from the new Church of St Andrew Goa-Velha during the Lent of 1868. New images kept adding to the collection and the image of Blessed Joseph Vaz was added as recently as in 2009.
Following the Eucharistic celebration, life-size statues of 31 saints are brought out of the church and after a brief introduction about their saintly lives, and then carried around the village in a solemn procession.
Photos by Lynn Barreto Miranda / lynn.barretomiranda.com
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