Returning after a two-year hiatus due to the recent public health emergency, the annual Good Friday tradition of the Romeiro pilgrimage and devotions at the various churches in the Diocese returned to St. Anne on Friday, April 15.
Under a cloudless sky, the pilgrims spent a half hour on the steps of this landmark church on South Main Street.
A Long Tradition of Faith
The first Romeiro pilgrimage in Fall River took place in the 1980s, but the the traditional pilgrimages began in the 1500s, a year of disasters on the Azorean islands.
In 1522, an earthquake caused a mudslide that nearly buried Villa Franco do Campo on Sao Miguel. In 1547, an earthquake rocked Terceira. In 1563, there were five violent earthquakes on Sao Miguel due to volcanic activities at Painha do Norte.
Because of these and other disasters, the villagers of the Azores took to the roads. The traveled, not as refugees, but as Romeiros, or pilgrims.
Taking nothing but a walking staff, a cloak or shawl against the weather, and a rosary, they marched the roads chanting prayers. The pilgrims were given beds for the night in houses and barns along their route. People along the way came to their aid with bread, cheese, and milk, feeding the pilgrims who prayed to God on behalf of all.
Although those walkers in the 1500s prayed for an end to the earthquakes, today’s pilgrims dedicate their prayers to world peace, to sick family members, or to the memory of a deceased relative who marched here, in Portugal, the Azores, or often in both countries.
St. Anne’s was blessed to be on their pilgrimage route, and prays manifold graces were gained by this ancient Azorean tradition as the group continued its journey through the streets of Fall River. We look forward to welcoming them back next year!