The Azores are people strongly marked by religious culture through various forms of manifestation. One of these manifestations is the cult of the Holy Spirit. These festivities take place throughout the archipelago of the Azores, every week from Easter to Pentecost Sunday, in some cases, and in others, until Trinity Sunday.
This cult dates back to the 14th century and is one of the oldest manifestations of Catholicism practised in Portugal. It is thought that this way of practising the Catholic faith found its origin in the year 1320 in a Franciscan convent, a religious order that had a strong expression in Portuguese territory. This cult received then strong support from the Holy Queen Isabel, who promised to spread the faith to the four corners of the world if the Holy Spirit, one of the figures of the Holy Trinity, would help her in the family disagreements she had at the time.
From then on, a crown headed with the figure of a dove, a figure that portrays and symbolizes the Holy Spirit, began to travel the Lusitanian territory, is also carried by the Portuguese discoverers.
From these Portuguese discoverers, and from their mission to spread this Portuguese Catholic faith, this cult finds its way to the Azores Archipelago, where it is still practised with fervour by the Azorean population.
The feasts of the Holy Spirit have great significance and clearly demarcate the religious culture of the Azoreans, although practised on all islands, this cult presents particularities in the way it is celebrated from island to island.
Every year an emperor is appointed per parish or municipality and this, besides being the main figure of the festivities, is the person in charge of organizing and carrying out the party in his locality. He organizes the procession, joins the farmers to raise the cattle to carry out the party and all the gastronomic part it entails. It is usually donated, door to door, a little wine, meat, homemade bread and batter.
Part of the party is the crown, the sceptre, the flag of the Holy Spirit. Every year, these elements rest in empires until a new emperor is found. On Sundays of the feasts of the Holy Spirit, processions are held. The elements are gathered from the house of the butler and these are taken to the church to hold the coronation ceremony.
The sequence of the parties offers the population a set of meals, donations and food distribution, as mentioned above. Of these meals, the soups of the Holy Spirit stand out, which are made of wheat bread and beef. These soups are one of the gastronomic landmarks of the Azores and acquire various forms of making along with the nine islands, but regardless of these various forms of making, they are delicious and deserve to be tasted.
Today, these festivals represent a trait of Azoreanity and several emigrants return to the islands to remember this tradition together with their families. Anyone is welcome to celebrate this tradition, so if you are in the Azores during this time, join the party and get to know a little more of the rich Azorean culture.