WOODSIDE — The Lord of Miracles Procession in Lima, Peru — one of the largest Catholic gatherings in the world — was canceled for the second year in a row due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But the tradition persisted faithfully in the Diocese of Brooklyn as hundreds of people turned out for a procession on Oct. 3.
Following a Mass at St. Sebastian Church, volunteers clad in purple robes (Peruvians call October “Mes Morado” or The Purple Month) joined Father Elvin Torres in carrying a platform containing bouquets of flowers and a painting of Jesus Christ from the church. They processed up Roosevelt Avenue and through the streets of Woodside.
The painting they carried is a replica of a famous image of Jesus on the cross painted by a slave from Angola on a wall of adobe clay in Lima around 1651. The artwork, which also depicts the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene, became legendary after the adobe structure containing it survived as one of the few buildings in Lima left untouched by a devastating earthquake in 1655.
Pilgrims visit Lima from all over the world to venerate the Lord of Miracles painting, and the artwork is believed to be responsible for numerous miracles over the centuries, from curing the sick to reuniting warring families.
The local procession was organized by the family of Bertha Newman, a Peruvian native who brought the tradition here nearly 50 years ago and led the march every year until her death this summer at age 88. A photograph of Newman was placed on the platform in tribute to her.
Her daughters, Carmen Bissell, Rebecca Newman-Mahoney and Mina Newman-Estudillo, helped to bring the event to life. They worked with members of the group their mother founded, Hermandad del Señor de los Milagros — or Brotherhood of the Lord of Miracles.
Lewis Sanchez, who helped carry the painting, said the tradition is deeply meaningful to him. “The Lord of Miracles can do so much for you if you believe,” he said.
Virginia Eyzaguirre said the Lord of Miracles brought a miracle into her life. “When I was young, the doctors told me I could never have a child,” she recalled. “I prayed for nine years for God to give me a baby. And I had a baby.”
That baby, Daniela Guillen, is now a grown woman and is expecting a baby of her own.
Sunday’s event began with a Mass celebrated in Spanish by Father Patrick West, administrator of St. Sebastian. “Viva, Jesucristo!” he proclaimed.
The Mass ended with the congregation singing the national anthems of the United States and Peru.
Then, it was time for the procession. The volunteers carefully took the replica from the inside of the church, where it had been placed for the Mass, and carried it outside. They placed it on a pedestal and began the march through Woodside.