Ermida das Almas - Império do Canto
The impérios [Small Temples] are buildings aimed for the exhibition of elements of the Holy Spirit’s cult, namely the crown, the banner and the staffs.
Built in the 18th century, it belonged to the Cunha da Silveira family and was restored, in 1874, by José Pereira da Cunha da Silveira. In 1912, it was no longer open to public and it is currently held by the Small Temple of the Holy Spirit, which uses it to store the insignias devoted to the Holy Spirit: crown, plate, sceptre, banner and staffs. The Brotherhoods of the Holy Spirit ensure the continuity of the worship of the Holy Spirit which was brought to the Azores by the Franciscans Order, in the mid-16th century. The festivities of the Holy Spirit, which are still carried out in São Jorge with great enthusiasm, begin on the Sunday following Easter and continue until the Sunday of the Trinity. This is a period of great importance in the community’s social life, which coincides with the arrival of Spring. In the 16th century, nearby the Capela das Almas, there was one of the oldest chapels erected in the island, the Chapel of Santo António The Abbot, in the meantime demolished, in the second half of the 19th century.
At the Holy Spirit’s weekend, the festivity of império do Canto (small temple) is carried out, with the performance of a philharmonic band, bazaar and sale of local products. The crown of the Holy Spirit is exhibited, in a replica of the small temple in wood, in a prominent place; alms are also distributed on Saturday and the traditional bolos de véspera are distributed on Sunday (round and flat cakes, with a quite hard consistency with marks made bread stamp, which used to identify the richest houses).