San Diego, CA: Portuguese Festa do Espirito Santo

Final Cover Photo

On this year’s feast of Pentecost, we attended a 700 year old tradition that is celebrated throughout Portugal, and the Portuguese diaspora – Festa do Espirito Santo.

As a small child, I remember going to Festa with my Portuguese grandmother in Arcata, California. After morning Mass, a beautiful but simple parade of statues and young girls dressed in what I suspect were their first communion and confirmation dresses traveled to the community hall. There we had a meal of sopas, and my grandmother told me the story of Queen Saint Isabel. Then I was gleefully spun around the dance floor by the sweetest Portuguese grandfathers who were enlivened by the music of their homeland. To me it was the epitome of celebrating our rich Catholic faith, and being part of a close-knit community.

I also attended many Festas in my hometown of San Diego, where the Portuguese community is significantly larger, and significantly more wealthy. Here the legacy of Queen Saint Isabel is able to feed hundreds of people, the devotion to the Holy Spirit is clearly displayed, and our beautiful faith is literally put on parade! This year would be my children’s first Festa!

Come Holy Spirit and inspire us as we attend Festa do Espirito Santo. Help us to recognize the faith and beauty that unifies this community. Inspire us to be a servant of God to all, especially the poor, as Queen Saint Isabel was. And help us to not be ashamed of our faith, but be willing to let others come and see it as we live it out each day. Amen.

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