Portuguese Festa: Even in a Pandemic They Kept the ‘Spirit’ Alive

by on May 24, 2021 · 2 comments

in History, Ocean Beach

The 2021 Festa do Espírito Santo Royalty: Sidemaids Victoria Jorge and Berlyn Balelo; Queen Jaquelyn Victoria Neves; and Queen Saint Isabel Danielle DaSilveira.

By Colleen O’Connor

Want to escape all the downbeat news and losses from the COVID-19 surges and chaos of this past year?

Then cheer on San Diego’s Portuguese community for sticking with a 700-year old tradition that commemorates Portugal’s Queen St. Isable, who (during a famine) promised the Holy Spirit to give her crown to the Church, “if sent a miracle, so my people will be relieved of their hunger.”

That miracle arrived, via ships sailing into the harbor, loaded with wheat and corn.

Thus, began the celebrated Festa do Espírito Santo (Feast of the Holy Spirit), with thanks and prayers to the Holy Spirit for interceding in times of danger or calamity.

The chaotic, COVID-19 ravaged years of 2020 and 2021, certainly count as one of those “times.”

Last year’s column, “Martial Law or Sopas,” concluded, “If you cannot put out a fire; celebrate your faith, honor a tradition, feed the poor, or help the less well off, then offer a kindness. And then pray.  A miracle would be as welcome today as it was 700 years ago.”

Queen Saint Isabel Danielle DaSilveira. Photos by Colleen O’Connor

This weekend that miracle seemed to be in sight and sound.

At least, it feels that way.

new Queen Jaquelyn Victoria Neves

If you witnessed the Portuguese community stack tables and chairs, cook food, assemble heat lamps, sweep the parking lots, arrange flowers, gather for outdoor Mass and recitations of the Rosary, and then Saturday night; break out the music, the dancing, and the full-throated singing.

Behold: a powerful glimpse of some actual joy.

Sunday morning followed with a scaled down procession, outdoor Mass, the crowning of a new Festa Queen, plus complimentary Sopas (albeit via drive through pick-up).

All of which marked the day as a fine Pentecostal Sunday.

Bless those present-day Point Loma celebrants for keeping the “Spirit” of Queen Saint Isable alive.

A miracle in itself.









{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorraine Silva May 24, 2021 at 3:41 pm

The Holy Spirit wins hands down. St Isable help us to be charitable as you were 700 years ago in Portugal to the poor.


Frank Gormlie May 24, 2021 at 7:09 pm

Awesome photos, Colleen!


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