Following in the footsteps of the Saints

The procession of saints, also known as ‘Santachem Pursanv’ or ‘Ordem Terceria’ will be held at St Andrews Church at Goa Velha on March 19, the 5th Monday of the lent season. There will be a Eucharistic celebration at 4.30 p.m. which will be followed by the procession. Since this event is held during the lent season, it is actually referred as a ‘Penitential procession’.

This is only of its kind procession in the world which is carried out with life size idols of the saints. The procession was also observed in the Portuguese colony of Bahia de Todos os Santos in Brazil, but was later banned.

Though there were 65 statues when the procession was first started their number has been reduced to 31 now as some of them got damaged due to disuse after Queen Maria II of Portugal along with Portuguese ruler, Marquis of Pombal, banished all religious decrees from Portuguese colonies in 1835. The procession was thereafter revived in the late 19th century.

The procession of saints is led by a frame carrying the ‘Veil of Veronica’. The 1st charol that comes out of the church is the ‘Tau cross’, the insignia of the Franciscan order, which highlights the commencement of this procession by the Franciscan friars. As each of the 31 statues emerges out of the church for procession, the life-story of each saint is narrated. As the statues of saints are carried through the crowd, devotees are seen ducking under the charols to receive the blessing of the saints.