FEAST OF THE HOLY GHOST
FEAST OF THE HOLY GHOST
SAT, SEPT 2
ENTERTAINMENT & FOOD
SUN, SEPT 3
FORMAL PROCESSION FOLLOWED BY FREE TRADITIONAL PORTUGUESE DINNER, AUCTION OF SWEETBREADS, ETC
Each year on the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend, the members of the Stonington Portuguese Holy Ghost Society and their friends and families gather to pay homage to the Holy Spirit in a celebration recalling their heritage and their devotion to the third person of the Blessed Trinity.
This particular local feast (festa) probably dates back to the mid-1800's when the local whaling fleet was manned primarily by Portuguese sailors. Today's festival in Stonington has been celebrated for over one hundred years, and according to The Stonington Chronology, our crown was purchased in 1914. Therefore, our feast is one of the remaining vestiges of the significant influence of the Portuguese people in Stonington Borough and its surroundings.
The celebration of the Holy Ghost is the principal celebration of the Azores and a part of every Azorean. Azoreans differ slightly as to the origins of this celebration, but today it is celebrated in all areas throughout the world where the Portuguese people have settled.
It has been said that during the latter Middle Ages, original settlers from the mainland of Portugal brought this festival to the Azores Islands and from there it traversed the globe.
Queen Isabel (Saint Elizabeth) surrounded by the grandeur and by the inherent wealth of royalty, grieved greatly for the poor who had little to celebrate on feast days without adequate food or reason for happiness. The pious Queen, who loved her people, wanted them to have their own banquet day, and she desired this day to be one of true charity, the greatest virtue of the Christian religion. She herself had always practiced this virtue, for she daily descended to the gates of the palace and personally distributed food to the needy.
The traditional legend of the Holy Ghost is that the Queen promised the Holy Ghost, for which she had great faith and devotion, that she would sell her crowns and jewels if He would intercede during a great famine. When the miracle did happen, she followed through on her promises and fed the masses the traditional bread and beef broth that is known as the Holy Ghost Sopas .
It was quite natural that the Queen recommended to her nobles that they set aside one day each year dedicated to the Holy Ghost. The day was to be a great feast day, the main feature of which was to be the distribution of food and money to the poor. This practice, once established, was handed down from generation to generation to the time of Prince Henry the Navigator. The noble prince, in turn, recommended that this virtuous practice be continued in the places he discovered.
Today, on the Azorean Islands, and in most Portuguese communities throughout the world, festivals recalling the great miracle and paying homage to the Queen and the Holy Ghost include the same traditional feeding of all people.
In Stonington and throughout the world, the feast centers on the religious ceremony during which the crown and scepter are blessed and the symbolic crowning takes place, recalling the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Queen Saint Isabel centuries ago. After the coronation, the people joyously partake in the feast at the grounds of the Holy Ghost hall with music and traditional foods. The afternoon is filled with an auction of locally baked sweetbread, seafood, and other specialties.
Finally, as the evening arrives, the celebration concludes with the drawing of those seven people whose homes will be blessed by the crown and scepter during the coming year and the person selected as the holder of the Seventh Dominga becomes the sponsor (mordome) of next year’s feast.
Thank you for joining us in this celebration and for your financial support
throughout the weekend.