Afro-Peruvian Procession Demonstrates Peruvian Staying Power in Paterson

(Photo by Gery Vereau via Reporte Hispano)

The procession of the Lord of the Miracles, an Afro-Peruvian tradition that dates back to the 19th century, paraded down the streets of Paterson, New Jersey, on Oct. 14 for the 36th year, drawing devotees from the tri-state area, as well as Florida and Virginia. These days, it goes past such landmarks as the “Peru Square” commercial area and is received by local officials. But when it first started, the 30 people carrying the 1,800-pound “Purple Christ” walked for only four blocks before returning to the Paterson Cathedral, Reporte Hispano’s Gery Vereau reports.

“We didn’t even enter downtown like [we do] now,” said Juan Valencia, who now lives in Florida, as he witnessed the procession’s arrival to City Hall, where it was received by the City Council’s speaker Maritza Dávila, of Peruvian and Puerto Rican descent. She was also dressed in purple, the color that devotees wear.

“This is the second time that we greet the Lord of the Miracles at the Paterson City Hall. Today we ask him for peace and health,” said Councilwoman Davila. “I’m a daughter of the community and I ask you to always pray for me.”

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