The Annual Procession of ‘Our Lord Bom Jesus dos Passos’ in Macau

Spiritual and Cultural Heritage

Cynthia Montemayor

Macau, the enchanting blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, holds a rich history of religious traditions. Among the various devotions cherished by the Catholics of Macau, the veneration of Senhor Bom Jesus dos Passos (Our Lord Bom Jesus dos Passos) stands out as a remarkable testament to the enduring faith and cultural heritage of this vibrant city.

The devotion to Senhor Bom Jesus dos Passos traces its roots to the Augustinian missionaries who arrived in Macau in 1586. Yet, some devotees claimed that the procession can be traced back to 1708 when a group of pious Portuguese faithful started the procession. The statue depicts Jesus Christ in a partially standing position, with the heavy cross on his shoulders, mirroring sorrow in his heart and the burden of the cross. This remarkable representation evokes a profound sense of love, compassion, and redemption, captivating the hearts of the faithful.

The procession takes place every year on the first Saturday and Sunday of Lent. The bishop of Macau, Bishop Stephen Lee, clergy, and the faithful joined the procession. The celebration begins with a solemn Mass, followed by a grand procession through the streets of Macau. A group of devotees, dressed in traditional purple attire, carry the statue of Senhor Bom Jesus dos Passos on a lavishly decorated platform. The procession is accompanied by the local police marching band, playing melancholic music that resembles a funeral parade. It follows the praying of the “Way of the Cross”, recalling only seven stations of the Passion and Death of Jesus. The procession commences on a Saturday from St. Augustine’s Church heading to the Cathedral and returns on the following day to St. Augustine’s.

On the second day, a girl taking on the role of Veronica sings a sorrowful song in Latin taken from Lamentations 1:12: “Come, all who pass by the way, pay attention and see: Is there any pain like my pain, which has been ruthlessly inflicted upon me, with which the LORD has tormented me on the day of his blazing wrath?” The devotees respond singing “Parce Domine, parce populo tuo, ne in aeternum irascaris nobis.” This vibrant devotion is most dear to the locals, especially the Macanese community. It also attracts devotees from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other tourists, who participate with reverence and awe, creating an atmosphere of spiritual unity.

Senhor Bom Jesus dos Passos holds immense significance for the people of Macau. The devotion to this miraculous and iconic image represents a spiritual connection with Jesus Christ and serves as a source of solace, hope, and inspiration. The outstretched arms of the statue symbolize Christ’s embrace and his invitation to all who seek comfort and salvation. The image fosters a powerful bond between the divine and the devoted, encouraging believers to deepen their faith and find strength in times of adversity.

The procession is a vast assembly of people of every culture, they offer candles, flowers, and personal prayers to Senhor Bom Jesus dos Passos expressing their gratitude, seeking intercession, and making requests for divine blessings. Some believers also undertake acts of penance, such as walking barefoot or wearing simple sandals as a demonstration of their devotion and commitment.

Moreover, the devotion to Senhor Bom Jesus dos Passos has played a significant role in preserving Macau’s cultural heritage. It serves as a poignant reminder of the city’s colonial past and the enduring influence of Portuguese traditions. The devotion has been passed down through generations, sustaining its relevance and ensuring its continuity as an integral part of Macau’s identity.

The devotion to Senhor Bom Jesus dos Passos in Macau exemplifies the profound faith, cultural richness, and enduring spirit of its people. As a symbol of love, compassion, and redemption, Senhor Bom Jesu continues to inspire and unite believers, fostering a sense of spiritual connectedness and cultural heritage. The annual festivities and devotional practices associated with Senhor Bom Jesu serve as a powerful testament to the enduring legacy of this venerated image in Macau.