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History of the Festa of the Holy Ghost

The history of the festa of the Holy Ghost is based on the miracle of a 14th century Queen St. Isabella of Portugal, who helped to feed the poor during a time of famine that ravaged the Azores and Portugal.  She had deep faith in the Holy Spirit and often prayed, asking for food to feed the poor.  When able she would hide food in the folds of her cloak and secretly deliver it to the poor.  On one such occasion, her husband, King Dinis, who did not approve of her feeding the poor, demanded to know where she was going and what she had under her cloak. When she opened her cloak, the bread had turned to roses.  It is said that this miracle occurred due to her faith in the Holy Ghost and also saved her from being caught in an act of defiance to the king.

Queen St. Isabella promised the Holy Ghost that if her people were delivered food, she would give her crown to the church. Soon her prayers were answered when a ship arrived loaded with food and supplies to feed the starving thus ending the famine.  The Queen then placed her crown on the head of a peasant girl, thereby starting the tradition of the first Holy Ghost "crowning", festa, and procession.

The faith and devotion to the Holy Ghost carries us back to the roots of the Portuguese people, a traditional coronation for over 100+ years in the United States where Portuguese immigrants formed society organizations to promote their faith, culture and traditions. The majority of Portuguese population in California are families that migrated from the Azores.

The festa of the Holy Ghost is the most important religious, social celebration of the year for the Portuguese in the Azores Islands and in the United States. Today, Portuguese Societies organize, and host events known as Festa do Divino Espírito Santo and are held every year in honor of the Holy Ghost and to preserve the culture and heritage of the Portuguese people.

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