400 METRES OF ROPE
USED IN RELIGIOUS CEREMONY
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.
The 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.
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 health conditions.
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.