The beautiful story of St. Isabel
Here’s the story that was in that flyer which was simply titled, “The Festa.”
This tradition all began hundreds of years ago in 1296 when Queen Isabel of Agagao, wife of King Diniz of Portugal, saw her subjects suffering from the effects of a devastating drought followed by a long famine. Thousands of people died during those years. Wells ran dry, and food began to get scarce.
Portugal’s Queen Isabel did all she could for her people during that time. There is a tradition that shows her, always with red roses in one hand and a small loaf of bread in the other. This stems from her habit of taking bread from the palace and secretly passing it to the poor and hungry. One day the king found out about it and confronted her. When she opened her apron to reveal the stolen bread, a miracle had occurred. For instead of bread, a bunch of red roses fell to the floor. Her generosity and love for her people had been honored by God.
Masses were said continuously during a nine-day novena until the day of Pentecost when the people witnessed three ships sail up the harbor and docked in Lisbon. These ships were filled with grain. Their hunger was finally at an end. It also began to rain, after several years of drought. This was considered to be a major miracle.
In thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit for this miraculous deliverance, the day of the Pentecost was declared to be a national holiday. This holiday persisted in Portugal for several centuries before being exported to the Azores Islands, and onto our community in Manteca.
When Portuguese people migrated to California and the East Coast, they brought the Holy Ghost Celebration with them, introducing it to their American neighbors. Our own local Portuguese community has continued this tradition through the Manteca-Ripon Pentecost Society since 1919. (Note: FESM – Festa do Divino Espirito Santo de Manteca – had its first president elected in 1931.) Queen Isabel was canonized by...