hidden europe 66

Follow the dove

by hidden europe

Picture above: Traditional Azorean chapel in Topo on the island of São Jorge. Note the dove above the entrance that reveals the Azorean attachment to the Cult of the Holy Spirit (photo © H368k742 / dreamstime.com).


Look for the tell-tale Pentecostal dove that marks out the small chapels dedicated to the Holy Spirit. They are found across the Azores, each chapel the hub of a social network that underpins Azorean Catholicism.

Azorean Catholicism has one very distinctive characteristic which sets it apart from mainstream Catholic practice. In the Azores there is a deep attachment to the Cult of the Holy Spirit ( Culto do Divino Espírito Santo). The notion of a triune Deity is deeply embedded in mainstream Christianity with reverence accorded to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost). At Pentecost of course, the Holy Spirit stands centre stage in prayer and liturgies, but Azorean Catholics show a remarkable year-round devotion to the Holy Spirit.

There are small chapels dedicated to the Holy Spirit in villages across the islands, and these form the focus for private or communal prayer and festivities — some of the latter quite secular in character. Following earthquakes or eruptions, the reconstruction of these small chapels is often prioritised over the rebuilding of the ‘official’ parish church.

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