Believers pay homage to the protector of the eyes
In the Church of Our Lady of Pilar and Santa Luzia, located in Comércio, there is a cave where water has been draining since the 17th century, when the temple was still a small chapel. The water that runs day and night from this fountain that has never dried is sought by the saint’s devotees, who wash their eyes and still take a small bottle of water home. Faithful people stand in line to wash their eyes and, in front of the church, street vendors sell towels with Santa Luzia’s name so that people can dry their eyes afterwards.
The 13th of December is dedicated to Santa Luzia, the protector of the eyes, being one of the city’s most traditional festivities. The devotees participate in masses at 6am, 8am, 3pm, and 5pm. The party highlight is the solemn mass at 10am, followed by a procession with the saint’s image on Comércio main streets. The andor (structure where religious images are carried) leaves the Church of Pilar and follows until the Church of Our Lady of Conceição da Praia, returning to the main church. Santa Luzia’s traditional colors are yellow and especially red. Both images inside the church and those that go in procession are richly adorned with flowers in these colors.
The Church of Pilar is also very beautiful, all adorned with golden stars everywhere, even on the ceiling, and the walls have Spanish tiles painted in blue. The Church of Our Lady of Pilar, the patron saint of Spain, was built by the Spaniards in 1700. A century and a half ago, Santa Luzia’s chapel, that was on Contorno Avenue, in the space where today is Solar do Unhão, caught on fire. Then, Santa Luzia’s image was transferred to the Church of Pilar. The believers came too. At the back of the church there was already the running water.
“The story goes that a man bathed his eyes and his vision got better. Then the fraternity had the cave built, made a duct to the water, and it never stopped draining. Each year, the number of faithful people increases. Even the tourists enter the church and first go to the back to get the miraculous water and only afterwards observe the church’s beauty”, says Josete Batista Santos, in charge of the Fraternity administrative table that manages and takes care of the Church.
Feast of Santa Luzia
When: triduum (mass, feast and procession) from December 10 to 12, always at 9:00 am; party on December 13th, with a solemn mass at 10:00 am.
Where: Church of Our Lady of Pilar and Santa Luzia, in Comércio.
Apart from the festivities date, the church opens only on Sundays, with masses at 9:00 am. Every 13th of the month there are two masses, one at 8:00 am and another at 10:00 am. The fountain drains water 24 hours nonstop.
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Dia de Santa Luzia. Comercio, Salvador, Bahia. Foto: Amanda Oliveira.