Cult of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres
Mother Teresa da Anunciada
Mother Teresa da Anunciada was born and baptized on November 25, 1658, in the parish of São Pedro, then Vila da Ribeira Grande, on the island of São Miguel.
She entered the Esperança Convent, where she began her novitiate on November 19, 1681, and took solemn vows on July 23, 1683.
She died, with a holiness reputation, on May 16, 1738.
The prelate of the Diocese of Angra started the legal process on the Life and Virtues of Mother Teresa, on May 5, 1738. In that same year, on August 6, the Provincial of the Franciscans in the Azores started the legal process of Life and Virtues of Mother Teresa, made by the Order of São Francisco.
A few years ago, a petition circulated among the Azorean population, addressed to the Holy Father, with the following content:
“The People of the Azores have a great love and devotion to Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres. Love and devotion that went far beyond the borders of the Region, in all the countries of the Azorean diaspora festivities are celebrated in honor of Senhor Santo Cristo and there are many thousands who, from almost all over the world, travel every year, on pilgrimage of supplication or giving thanks to the Lord.
It all started with a clarissa nun, Mother Teresa da Anunciada who, in the silence of the convent, received a special appeal to honor and relieve the Lord in His Flagellation represented in the image of Ecce Homo.
Since 1700, above all, the cult of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres has become so great that, since then, it never slowed down. Graces and miracles have been a constant. Mother Teresa da Anunciada was an instrument to help remind us that God is in solidarity with his people.
A nun of austere and intrepid life in her faith, through intense prayer, for her love for Jesus and the Eucharist and for her devotion to Holy Mary, she is seen as a model of holiness and considered the great intercessor with the Lord she loved so much.
For this reason, I add my voice to that of many priests and faithful, imploring Your Holiness to be granted the “nihil obstat” for the organization of the Beatification Process of the Servant of God in order to be elevated to the honor of the altars, so I hope”.
Mother Teresa’s remains are preserved in a small urn that is kept in the Chapel of Senhor Santo Cristo, in the Esperança Monastery.
At the end of the 19th century, or the beginning of the last century, one of the bishops of Angra ordered the box to be opened, which is still preserved in the low choir of the Esperança Convent, which contains the mortal remains of Mother Teresa da Anunciada.
With the cover removed, a magnificent and inexplicable aroma evolved. Someone, more demanding, may not want to accept the fact. What is certain, however, is that from Mother Teresa’s life a perfume resists all the inconsequence of men, all the deviations of some devotees, certainly sincere, but poorly clarified.
Teresa de Jesus’ father (later Teresa da Anunciada) was Jerónimo Ledo de Paiva, born in Ribeira Seca da Ribeira Grande, in July 1601. His mother was Maria do Rego Quintanilha, baptized in the parish of S. Jorge, in Nordeste, on August 11, 1614.
The prolonged illness of Jerónimo Ledo de Paiva, which ended up victimizing him, on Friday, January 24, 1666, was the great disgrace that befell the family of thirteen children, Teresa being the youngest. It was her sister, Joana de Santo António, who did the impossible until she managed to get Teresa de Jesus to enter the Convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperança.
When Teresa reached the age of learning to read, it happened that her brother returned from Brazil, Friar Simão do Rosário, to rest for a few months and recover from the strenuous missions in the Brazilian hinterland. He taught the younger sisters how to read and Teresa was delighted to read about the lives of saints, especially the Meditations of Saint Brigid.
When the day of Teresa’s profession came, the entrance procession, which was organized with a light accompaniment, left the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, from the Franciscanos Convent, to that Convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperança. The figure of Teresa de Jesus stood out, who was already confirmed with the name that should celebrate her: Teresa da Anunciada.
The family, the guests and the musical group, accompanied by a joyful ringing of bells from the towers of several surrounding churches, celebrated the event.
When Teresa entered the Esperança Monastery, there was in the low choir, on one side, on a small altar, an image of the Lord, in the passage of Ecce Homo, which had a register covering the opening of the chest, as it had once served as a tabernacle. At the request of her sister, Joana de Santo António, Teresa got a new altar for the Image that she was incarnating. She asked Mother Jerónima do Sacramento, from the Santo André Convent of Ponta Delgada, to make a cane of silk flowers, to decorate the Lord when he returned to his new altar.
The Image of Senhor Santo Cristo was on its new altar, but the ceiling of the choir was formed by the floor of the higher choir which, in addition to being old, had many cracks that allowed the dust to pass through, in addition to the noise that was felt when walking in the higher choir. Teresa arranged for a chapel to be built and, at her request, D. Pedro II, by permit of September 2, 1700, granted a fee of twelve thousand réis, to keep, day and night, an oil lamp in front of the altar of the Senhor Santo Cristo.
None of these chapels has reached our day, but a third has, built later, which was blessed on March 22, 1771.
It was at that time that Mother Teresa da Anunciada wished the Image of the Lord to go out in procession, passing through all the churches and convents of the city.
Through the count of Ribeira Grande, she obtained a license from the prelate, D. Frei António de Pádua, and the first procession of Senhor Santo Cristo took place on April 11, 1700, according to the investigator Urbano de Mendonça Dias. (The most recent researcher, Luciano Mota Vieira, invoked research that led the first procession back to 1698. The procession was repeated in April 1700 and it was this date that is pointed out as being that of the first procession).
The devotion to this procession was such that it never failed to happen, except once or twice, due to bad weather. It is the oldest devotion that takes place in Portuguese lands.
Mother Teresa seems to have had no old age; such is the energy that she maintained until the end of her life. The last illness took her quickly. The fasts, the cilices, the penances and a bed made with a straw pallet on branches, never took away her strength from her body and have strengthened her soul.
The illness that victimized her was not long. She foresaw the death that arrived at dawn on Friday, May 16, 1738. Teresa was going to turn 80 the following year. The devotion that Teresa da Anunciada felt so intensely for Christ in the footsteps of Ecce Homo has been giving, through the centuries, new resonances to the worship of the Lord, to the point that it has reached our day, with a notable influence on the spirituality of our People.
On May 16, 1954, a commemorative tombstone was placed in the house where Mother Teresa was born, located at Rua do Torninho, in Ribeira Seca.
On May 12, 1963, a bust of Mother Teresa, by sculptor Numídico Bessone, was inaugurated next to the church of Ribeira Seca.
In December 1992, Mother Teresa da Anunciada was officially appointed as patron of the elementary school of Ribeira Seca.
The large statue of Mother Teresa, next to the Sanctuary of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, in Ponta Delgada, was inaugurated on May 26, 1984.