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FESM staging 89th Holy Ghost event Saturday, Sunday

The 89th Festa do Espirito Santo de Manteca is now underway this week with modifications due to the lingering pandemic.

The week kicked off the rosary in the cappella of the FESM Hall in the 200 block of North Main Street.

Events coming up are:

*The rosary Saturday, July 10, at 7 p.m.

*The serving of sopas to anyone who drives thru starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 10, until they are gone. You are asked to enter the alley behind the FESM Hall via North Street and then exit onto Center Street.

*The traditional march to St. Anthony’s for mass takes place Sunday, July 11. They will march back to the hall after mass where lunch will be served. There will only be one serving, however, There will be a sweetbread and coffee cake auction as well.

The Big Queens this year are queen Isabella Avila, daughter of John and Yurica Avila; sidemaid Isabella Pires, daughter of Michael and Cheryl Pires; and sidemaid Monica Bento, daughter of Duarte and Mary Bento.

The Little Queens are queen Elizabeth Coelho, daughter of Joe and Martha Coelho, sidemaid Monique Coelho, daughter of Joe and Martha Coelho, and sidemaid Paisley Cpelho, daughter of Avlie and Tara Coelho.

 “The Festa and all of our events will return to normal beginning this fall unless God has another plan,” noted David Silveira in an email.


Holy Ghost background

Festas are held on weekends from April until August in areas settled by early immigrants from Portugal and the Azores islands. The festas stretch from the North Coast, down the San Joaquin Valley, and to San Diego.

There is a tradition that shows Queen Isabel in 1296 that always shows her with red roses in one hand and a small loaf of bread in the other.

The tradition 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 and was asked to open her apron. When she opened her apron to reveal the stolen bread a miracle had occurred. 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 dock in Lisbon. The three ships were filled with grain that helped bring their hunger to an end. It also began to rain after several years of drought. This was considered to b e a major miracle.

In thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit for this miraculous deliverance, the day of the Pentecost was declared a national holiday. The festive day was held in Portugal for centuries before being exported to the Azores islands and then to communities in California including Manteca with the immigration of Portuguese settlers.

Queen Isabel was canonized by Pope Urban the Eight in 1625. Her devotion to her people was symbolized by the promise she made to the Holy Spirit that if her people were delivered from famine and drought, she would lay her jeweled crown on the altar as a gift to the Church.

Replicas of her crown adorned with the dove, the Holy Spirit’s symbol, were made. Queen Isabel began a custom of crowning and placing her cape on the poorest girl in the kingdom and the poorest male beggar. The custom of crowning and feeding the people of the community takes place still today through the annual festa — a tradition that has survived for nearly 700 years.