The annual pilgrimage of the Romeiros traces back to 1522, when a great earthquake struck the island, killing thousands and burying the city of Vila Franca do Campo. In the aftermath, the villagers appealed to the heavens to protect them from tremors – and thus began the Romeiros.
For eight days every spring, the Romeiros march, shawled and prayerful, their feet moving in a solemn cadence, walking sticks topped with crucifixes, the wind carrying their chants. Today, Romeiros from all over the world journey to the island in a show of humility and devotion, their purpose undiminished by time.
“I’ve been fascinated by the Romeiros since I first saw the pilgrimage in 2012 – the rhythms of their feet, the sounds of the chanting, and the utter humility and devotion on their faces. Some have been Romeiros for years, and others are the sons and grandsons of Romeiros. The tradition is still very much alive today, and it’s so humbling to see that tradition continue,” said Amaral.
A commercial photographer specializing in editorial and corporate photography, Amaral is recognized for his haunting black-and-white imagery and use of light. In 2012, he travelled to São Miguel, journeying throughout the archipelago to compile a book, Over the Hills and Far Away, that celebrates the spirit of a people and the rich cultural traditions of the island of São Miguel. His work has been exhibited at Scotiabank’s CONTACT Photography Festival, xPose, Academia das Artes dos Açores and in numerous publications.
“The Peach Gallery is looking forward to hosting this solo show illustrating the incredible Romeiros of São Miguel,” said Peach Gallery Curator Vince Nigro. “We’ve had many spectacular art shows here at the Peach Gallery, and we’re very excited to launch this show in conjunction with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.”
CONTACT is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and fostering the art and profession of photography, with an annual Festival in May throughout Toronto, and year-round programming in the CONTACT Gallery. CONTACT embraces an inclusive and accessible approach to the medium, and cultivates collaborations with and among artists, curators, institutions, and organizations: https://scotiabankcontactphoto.com/