By Mike Moyle
Behind the Holy Ghost Festa is a beloved Portuguese legend that still moves people, especially in the Azores where traditions remain the center of community life. The legend dates to two centuries of hunger and poverty beginning in the late 1200s when famine ravaged the Portuguese countryside.
The struggling people gathered in their churches, and prayed to the Divine Holy Spirit. The Mass evolved into the Espírito Santo Festa, an annual celebration of thanksgiving for Queen Isabel’s unselfish gifts of food for the poor (see story of Queen Isabel on our Events Calendar page). Tradition is that young girls are crowned queens.