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Black Christ Festival
From: 2014.10.21 To: 2014.10.21
Every October 21, Portobelo swells up with visitors coming from far and wide to pay honor to the small port town’s most famous and mysterious resident. One story has it that the festival’s crowd-puller, the 1.5-meter wooden Black Christ statue, arrived in Portobelo by ship in 1658. Apparently, the ship couldn’t set sail until the crew cast the large box which enclosed the statue into the water, much to the amazement of the natives. According to another legend, the box magically appeared in a bayside during a devastating cholera epidemic. Local fishermen spotted it, decided to place the statue inside the Iglesia de San Félipe and the epidemic miraculously disappeared overnight. Anyhow, tens of thousands of pilgrims, many clad in purple robes, arrive to see the revered statue being paraded through the streets, paying penance (bodily self-punishments are anything but unusual) and asking for forgiveness. Alcohol flows freely and the celebrants usually party until the wee hours.