October is a historic month in the city of Lima. October is actually known as "mes morado" (meaning Purple Month) in Peru. Thousands of people show their devotion to "El Señor de los milagros" by wearing purple garments the entire month. This week marks the start of several major events commemorating the special month.
"The Lord of the Miracles" is an image that is carried through the streets of Lima. The processional is viewed by thousands of people. It is considered the largest processional in South America. The event dates back to colonial times when a slave brought to Peru painted the image of a black Christ on the walls of a simple shack. Legend claims that several attempts to remove the image where made. Nothing would remove the image. In 1746, a major earthquake leveled all the surrounding buildings but the wall containing the image remained intact. This led to widespread respect and worship for the image. Today it is carried through the streets on an elaborate display weighing more than a ton. Street vendors sell special food, clothing and commemorative items.
Last week a notice was placed under our door from the local neighborhood association. It was announcing the special arrival of the "Lord of the Miracles" on our street. There was a special program planned with music, Bible reading and a time for prayer. We were encouraged to bring our "sacred images" to be blessed by the priest. There would also be a time when the neighborhood children could be blessed. The notice assured us that we should be happy that our neighborhood was being blessed another year by the passing of this historic image.
Late in the afternoon yesterday we drove to the nearby grocery store. The road was partially blocked by the processional. I was saddened by what I saw. I immediately thought of the old hymn, "He lives." I'm glad we serve a living Lord that we can sense as if He is walking and talking with us daily. Pray for Peru, a land filled with much religion, but few that have a personal relationship with God.