Holy Ghost feast a crowning success
DEBORAH ALLARD-BERNARDI, Herald News Staff Reporter August 26, 2002
At the high Mass at St. Anne's Church Sunday, Bishop Sean P. O'Malley, above, blesses the crowns and the young women who wore them. At left, Lucy Costa, queen of the Great Feast of the Holy Ghost of New England, awaits her spot at the end of the processi
FALL RIVER -- After a weekend of festivities, a parade and fireworks, the Great Feast of the Holy Ghost of New England bared its religious roots on Sunday for the procession of coronation.
After a solemn high noon Mass at St. Anne's Church, thousands of onlookers lined both sides of South Main Street on blankets, in chairs, and on foot, many with umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun, to watch the decorated marchers.

The procession began at 2 p.m. at St. Anne's Church and lasted for nearly four hours, as it wound around Kennedy Park and back to the church.

The marchers consisted of some 65 units of Holy Ghost brotherhood organizations from New England, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Florida, Bermuda, New Jersey and California. There were also 23 philharmonic bands.

The hundreds of marchers were wearing their Sunday best, the men dressed in suits with red carnations on their lapels, while many displayed flags from the United States, Portugal and Canada.

Women carried the Holy Ghost crown, and many were dressed in white or pale pink gowns. Some wore tiaras and long red capes that floated behind them as they walked. One group of women carried large baskets on their heads filled with bread and flowers.

The women in capes and tiaras were depicting Queen Isabel, whose generosity to the poor is still celebrated more than 600 years after her death.

Queen Isabel was known for feeding the poor and allowing peasants to wear her crown upon their heads, all the time defying her husband, King Dom Diniz, in doing so.

"The cape goes from girl to girl," said Suzana Costa of Somerville, who marched with the Somerville Holy Ghost Committee.

Dressed in a white wedding gown and a long, red cape made by another Holy Ghost organization in California, Costa said this has been a yearly pilgrimage for her.

"It's faith," she said, giving reason for her annual visit to the feast. "I've been (marching in the procession) since I was 5 or 6. I'm 20 now."

It seemed all of the young people there lining up to walk in the procession knew the story of Queen Isabel and its significance.

"I was born into it," said Melissa Rego, 17, of Woburn, marching with the Portuguese American Civic League from Cambridge. "It's part of my heritage."

Daniella Pacheco, 10, of Medford, wore a lilac cape and a headpiece. Her mother, Maria, said they've been taking part in the procession for the past seven years.

"It's the faith and the tradition," she said."

Several guests also walked the downtown city streets in the procession, including Carlos Cesar, president of the Azorean regional government; Mayor Berta Cabral of Ponta Delgada; Mayor Sergio Avila of Angra do Heroismo; and Mayor Rui Carvalho e Melo of Vila Franca do Campo; as well as several other business people from the Portuguese community.

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