.- On the evening of Oct. 4, two million people began converging on the city of Belém in the northeastern state of Pará, Brazil, for the largest Marian festival in the world.
The Cirio de Nazaré procession brings Catholics from all over Brazil to show their devotion to Our Lady of Nazareth. Pilgrims spend several hours processing through the streets of Belém, the Portuguese translation for Bethlehem.
The Brazilian bishops said in a statement released earlier this week that putting on another edition of the biggest Catholic celebration in Brazil brings them joy.
“The Cirio is the Family Feast! It is the fellowship! It is the great collective effort to ‘fill the jars with water,’ so that Jesus may turn it into wine, the new wine of peace, justice and commitment to the cause of the Gospel,” they said.
On Oct. 5, dozens of parish groups, lay Catholic movements, and pastoral ministries from the Archdiocese of Belém began a 48-hour session of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in preparation for the Sunday, Oct. 9 procession.
The procession will depart from the Cathedral of Belém and make its way along a two-mile route to the Shrine of Our Lady of Nazareth. At the shrine, the Virgin's image will be on display for the thousands of faithful who come from all over Brazil to express their devotion and give thanks for graces achieved through her intercession.
The longest procession in the history of the Cirio de Nazaré was over nine hours long.
The devotion to Our Lady of Nazareth began in Portugal. The original image belonged to the Monastery of the Virgin of Caulina, Spain, and according to a popular belief, was originally sculpted in Nazareth by Saint Joseph himself and later taken to Europe.
The history of the procession goes back to 1792, when the Vatican authorized a procession in honor of the Virgin of Nazareth in Belém do Pará.