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IN THE THIRTEENTH AND FOURTEENTH CENTURIES there was a violent earthquake and volcanic eruption in the Azores Islands, 1,000 miles from the reigning Queen Isabel of Portugal. The most seriously hit was the Island of Pico. The people of these Azores Islands could not survive the drought, crop failures and famine that now plagued them. They gathered together in earnest prayer to the Holy Ghost for help.

He who feedeth the Raven heard their prayers, and on the morning of the Pentecost Sunday there was a great rising sun and the people of these islands saw in the sunrise a ship coming into the Port of Fayal. This ship was laden with the necessities of life. The food was distributed among the people of the various islands and they were very grateful that their prayers had been answered.

When their Queen Isabel heard of this providence, she organized a solemn procession in honor of the Holy Ghost. Accompanied by her maids, she carried her Crown through the streets of Lisbon, to the Cathedral, where she left if on the Alter as an offering of thanksgiving for the favors the Holy Ghost had given her people.

When Queen Isabel‘s husband (King Dinis) died, she took the third Order of Saint Francis. In 1612 her body was taken up to be put in a new shrine, and was found to be in corrupt. Two centuries after her death, she was canonized by Pope Urban VIII.

All the people of these Islands vowed that they and their children and their children’s children would commemorate the Pentecost Day by giving thanks to their Queen Isabel for the great sacrifice she made in giving her Crown as a thanksgiving to the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost Festival starts on the eve of Pentecost Sunday. A procession with the members of the I.D.E.S. Society and a band take the Crown and Scepter to the Church. Both of these symbols are blessed at a special service, after which they are taken to the Society’s Chapel to remain over night. Following the procession there is a dance in the I.D.E.S. Hall.

On the following morning, at 10:00 a.m., the main procession leaves the Society’s grounds, consisting of different units. At the end of the procession comes the Queen (who represents Queen Isabel) with her maids. The Queen and her maids walk inside four rods held by young girls. The Crown and Scepter are carried to the Church where they are blessed again, this time at High Mass. At noon, the service completed, the procession is led back by the Queen and her Maids to the Society’s Chapel, where the Crown and Scepter are placed on the Alter until the end of the Celebration, which lasts three days.

At noon the great barbecue feast begins and comers are supplied with generous portions of meat, bread, and wine. When the meal is done the formal Chamarita Dance begins in the small I.D.E.S. Hall and the popular dances are held in the big hall and are invited to participate.

At noon, Monday, there is another barbecue attended for the most part by the home crowd. Following the barbecue there is the final auction of the celebration. Another public dance is held in the afternoon, interrupted in the early evening for a rest and continuing until early Tuesday morning. not unitl then is the Festival of the Holy Ghost Celebration officially completed.

In those days the men lead the solemn procession. The Crown was carried to church, where a Mass was held and the Crown was blessed by the Priest. The procession then returned to Mrs. Rose Brown’s home where the Crown was place on display for everyone to see and give their offerings.

In the afternoon a free barbecue was enjoyed by all who attended the celebration. After the meal the formal Chamarita dance began. The Chamarita is the traditional and complex folk dance of the Portuguese. The dance takes its name fro the chant which originally began:

The festivities lasted four days and nights. This became traditional of the Holy Ghost Festival in Half Moon Bay. The festival successively moved from the property of Mrs. Rose Brown to the Antone George property on the estate of Manuel J. Silva. Later, it moved to the Antone De Brum property, and to other homes in the area, then to the present I.D.E.S. grounds.

The early Portuguese men for the most part were simple, earnest men who asked nothing in return other than the pleasure of having the celebration become a tradition and take root in this land and grow. These are some of the men who pioneered the Holy Ghost Festival. There were others who worked for the celebration, but they did not actively transplant this interesting religious and social festival to their adopted land.