Every year, in
the second week of October, millions of Roman-Catholic devotees from all over
Brazil descend on the city of Belem to attend Cirio de Nazaré, the country’s
largest religious festival, and to touch a 400-meter-long piece of
rope believed to have the power to heal the sick.
Nazaré has been celebrated intermittently in Brazil since 1793. The
event revolves around a small statue of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Our Lady
of Nazareth), an artifact supposedly sculpted in Nazareth that is believed
to have performed miracles in medieval Portugal, before being lost in Brazil.
Legend has it that a cattleman found it in a canal during the 1700’s, but every
time he took it out of the water, it would disappear, only to be found again in
the original place it was discovered. The people of Belem believed that it was
Our Lady’s wish to remain there, so they built a church there, which would
later become today’s Nazaré Basilica.
celebration lasts two weeks, but the climax of the event is on the first
Sunday, when the small statue is taken from the city’s Catedral da Sé to
the Nazaré Basilica, on a flower-bedecked carriage pulled by
thousands of devotees. The night before the procession about 15.000
devotees queue in front of the cathedral to secure a place near the
400-meter-long piece of rope used to pull the carriage through the
city. Men and women align on two separate lines, and by 10 a.m. on Sunday,
the human density around the rope reaches an incredible 10 people per meter.
As the statue of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré
begins its 3.5km journey to Nazaré Basilica, over 2 million people
accompany it through the streets, singing to the chants aired by the
speakers along the path, to salute the passage of the Virgin. The most devoted
of them squirm and and grope to get a hand on the rope pulling the
vehicle, and those that are successful struggle to keep their grip. It’s a
daunting task, as the procession moves at a snail’s pace, and the high humidity
and temperature (often around 40 degrees Celsius) make it hard to breathe.
common during the five-to-nine hours it takes for the procession to reach its
destination, but volunteers and doctors are always standing by to provide swift
medical attention and evacuate sufferers. Getting to them is not the easiest
thing in the world, as the area around the rope is so densely packed, that
those feeling sick couldn’t escape it even if they wanted to. Many of the
barefoot supplicants finish the journey on their knees, with barely enough
stamina to keep from passing out. They view the rope as a link between the
Saint and her followers, and most of them would rather collapse then let go.
But even as the procession reaches its
destination, the devotees don’t loosen their grip one bit. Instead they wait
for someone to cut the rope in small pieces, maneuvering the tight space
between their hands, so they can keep them as holy souvenirs of their
struggle and evidence of their strong faith. The tiniest thread of rope is
believed to have miraculous healing powers, and many believers go through this
whole ordeal in the hopes of curing themselves or their loved ones of serious
This year, the
pressure on the rope was so great that it broke halfway through the procession.
It is estimated that 8,000 people got the chance to reach it.
Clancy's comment: Wow! That's a long time to be holding a rope. I'm ...
Welcome to some background on one of Australia's greatest sportsman.
Bradman is the greatest batsman ever to grace the game. His test average
remains far above anyone else. In 52 tests he managed 29 hundreds and scored
just below 6,000 runs at an average of 99.94. If he had scored 6 runs on his
last test innings at Lords in 1948, he would have finished with an average of
100. However, the greatest cricketer of the era was out for a duck – a
paradoxical end to a stupendous career.
was so dominant that the English team resorted to ‘bodyline’ bowling on the
Australian tour of 1933. It was in the era of the great depression, when
cricket provided a relief from the gloom of the Great Depression. The
Australians were up in arms at the ‘uncricket’ like nature of the English bowling.
The tactics were criticised back in England and were even raised in parliament.
Don Bradman finished the series with an average of ‘only’ 53. If it had not
been for the second world war, Don Bradman’s career would have been even more
During the war, he initially volunteered for
the RAF, but was later persuaded to join the army (a safer option). However, in
1941, he suffered a bout of fibrositis. Due to the pain he was invalided out of
the army, and suffered bouts of fibrositis throughout his life.
After the war,
he was able to return to the national side. His final tour was the 1948 tour of
England, which captivated a nation. It was said, Bradman was second only to
Churchill in the degree of fame. Despite his waning powers, he still managed to
score 11 centuries and 2,432 runs on tour. The Australians won the tour 4-0. In
the last test at Lords, Bradman went out to bat with an average of 101. He was
given a standing ovation as he left the famous Lords pavilion. But, he was
bowled for 0. England lost by an innings and he never batted again.
After retirement Sir Donald Bradman remained a great
ambassador for the sport. He was knighted for his services to cricket and
remained open to an adoring public, even though he remained publicity shy
throughout the period. In 2001, the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard,
said he was the greatest living Australian.
Clancy's comment: A great average for a cricketer.