In September 2019, Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Victoria celebrated the Feast of Senhor Bom Jesus da Pedra.
Devotion to Senhor Bom Jesus da Pedra (Lord Good Jesus) has its roots in Portugal, specifically in Azores and São Miguel islands. This devotion is a very old religious practice, with a focus on the mystery of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. Members of the Church of Holy House of Mercy in Vila Franca do Campo in São Miguel originated the festivities in honour of Lord Bom Jesus da Pedra that took place on the last Sunday of August, as early as 1903. Since the first festival, the Diocese in Vila Franca do Campo has continued to hold the great solemnity each year in honour of Senhor Bom Jesus da Pedra, with his image, crowned with thorns, in a red cloak, with a rod in his right hand.
The Feast of Senhor Bom Jesus da Pedra lasts a week. The Commission prepares a vast, widely publicized program. There are a Triduum of religious celebrations. On Saturday evening, the image of Senhor Bom Jesus da Pedra is transferred from the church of Misericórdia to the Mother Church. On Sunday there is a celebration Mass and a Procession through the streets of the Vila. The Festival also has cultural events.
To this day, Catholics in Portuguese communities throughout the world continue to celebrate this important feast. In our own Diocese of Victoria, members from Our Lady of Fatima Parish began celebrating the Festival of Senhor Bom Jesus da Pedra in 1985, the year after the inauguration of the community. Throughout the years, our Portuguese community members not only celebrated the religious ceremonies together, they also exposed our younger generations to the culture and the traditions their elders grew up on.
This year, members from Our Lady of Fatima Parish began the feast with a Triduum, and the transfer of the image of Bom Jesus from the church hall back to the church. On Sunday, September 1, many students from the Island Catholic Schools in Victoria had the opportunity to experience the festivities of Senhor Bom Jesus da Pedra. Fr. Eduardo Santos, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, as well as Chaplain of St. Andrew’s Regional High School, organized and encouraged Our Lady of Fatima children who attend St. Patrick’s Elementary, St. Joseph’s Elementary, and St. Andrew’s Regional High School, to join the Mass and to process in their school uniform. The students represented our schools well and walked in the procession with pride. They especially enjoyed walking on the fresh petal rug with some of our younger students.
Of course, the highlight of the students’ festival was the cultural events – lunch with traditional Portuguese food, games, face-painting, piñata, a live Portuguese band and dance groups from Vancouver.
By Kathleen Seu, Music Director / Grade 3A Teacher, St. Patrick's School