Festival of Our Lady of the Rock

Our Lady of the Rock, Festival of

Every Sunday in October
The church of Nossa Señora da Penha, Our Lady of the Rock, rises up from a 300-foot-high granite boulder on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A number of legends accounts for the church's unusual location, one of which is that a man sleeping at the foot of the boulder was rescued from being eaten by a crocodile by the Virgin's miraculous intervention.
Pilgrims travel to the church every Sunday during the month of October. Some climb the 365 stone steps that have been carved out of the granite entirely on their knees because they have made a pledge to the Virgin, while others carry huge candles and wax images of body parts that she has cured. The large square at the base of the rock is filled with stalls selling food and drink with which the pilgrims can refresh themselves. Ferris wheels, carousels, games, and fireworks enliven the festivities. In the city of Rio De Janeiro, the festival is considered second in importance only to Carnival.
Local people say that a man once caught his foot on the top step and tumbled back down the steps. Assuming that the strange downward progression represented the fulfillment of a promise made to the Virgin, the other pilgrims politely moved to the side as he passed by.
CONTACTS:
Brazilian Embassy
3006 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-238-2700; fax: 202-238-2827
www.brasilemb.org
SOURCES:
FiestaTime-1965, p. 160
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