Hamilton Hill was alive with the Holy Spirit on June 8 as the Portuguese community at Holy Cross Parish celebrated the feast of Pentecost.
Adorned with bouquets of flowers and red fabrics, the hundreds who gathered at Holy Cross took part in a celebration which was steeped in devotion to the Holy Spirit and St Isabel, Queen of Portugal.
Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr Joe Cardoso, with the assistance of Fr Julian Carrasco and Fr Nicholas Nweke, parish priest of Holy Cross.
During his homily, Fr Cardoso spoke about how we as Catholics have forgotten that the Holy Spirit is not just for the charismatic, but is an advocate for us all.
Referencing events in the Bible, Fr Cardoso focused on how the Holy Spirit has always and will always walk alongside us and be our helper.
Too often, when we are experiencing hardship, we neglect to ask the Holy Spirit for assistance and go straight to family, friends and professionals, Fr Cardoso said.
Seeking help is a good thing but our first point of assistance should be the Holy Spirit.
After the homily, Fr Cardoso and Fr Nweke blessed baskets of bread which were placed in front of the altar.
These loaves of bread were handed out to each family present in imitation of St Isabel’s act of feeding the Portuguese people who had been hit by famine.
On exiting the church, two girls dressed in traditional dress sang devotional hymns to the Holy Spirit while a silver crown was carried behind them symbolising the devotion of St Isabel, Queen of Portugal to the Holy Spirit.
Two red banners were carried above the congregation symbolising the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the apostles at Pentecost.
In Portugal, the Holy Spirit feast is closely related to the devotion to St Isabel who, in the 13th century, donated her crown as a votive gift to the Holy Spirit, begging that the famine ravaging her country would stop.
As a continuation of this tradition, food and wine is still distributed during the Holy Spirit celebrations, and the churches display replicas of the Queen’s crown.