PORT-AU-PRINCE — For James Pierre, celebrating the Feast of the Miracle Virgin at Saut-d’Eau each year is a must. Not only do the festivities bring great delight, the patronal feast is also an opportunity for Pierre, a Vodou priest, to meet and greet fellow devotees who make the pilgrimage to the sacred waterfalls to reinvigorate their spirits. For him to bask in the “essence” of love and sense of community he finds in the gathering.
“It is an important occasion,” Pierre, also known as Atiosle, told The Haitian Times. “The country is facing many difficulties, but pilgrims would not fail to go to Saut-d’Eau to ‘hand over,’ as they say, their personal problems to the Miracle Virgin,” Pierre said.
Across Haiti, patronal feasts are celebrations of Christian saints and Vodou deities whose spirits are venerated as communal patrons across the country. In all, scores of patronal feasts take place nationwide throughout the year, bringing together people from all walks of life searching for fame, fortune and peace.
Despite the violence, kidnapping and fuel scarcity plaguing parts of Haiti, patronal feasts continue to take place, providing much-needed succor to some.
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