peru (Photo: The “Lord of the Miracles” painting during a procession in Lima October 18, 2010/Enrique Castro-Mendivil)

Thousands of worshippers dressed in purple robes paraded a revered icon through Peru’s capital this week in a tradition dating from 1687 when a mural depicting the same image of Jesus escaped unscathed in a powerful earthquake.

The procession of the Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles), a mural picturing a dark-skinned Christ that is said to have been painted in a shrine by an Angolan slave, has drawn crowds of Roman Catholic devotees for centuries.

The icon is a copy of the mural, which is revered for its powers to cure the sick and protect against tremors in the Andean country. Originally worshipped by Afro-Peruvians, the Señor de los Milagros has become Peru’s best-known icon and has inspired worshipers around the world.

peru 2 (Photo: The “Lord of the Miracles” procession in Lima, October 18, 2010/Enrique Castro-Mendivil)

“The image survived the great earthquake of October 20, so now it is believed that miracles occur in October,” said Manolo Ganoza Quino, a member of the brotherhood that takes turns bearing the heavy replica enshrined in gold on their shoulders during a 14-hour procession through Lima.

Facing the image, groups of women in lace veils walked backward, lending their voices to a solemn marching band and fanned incense toward the image adorned with bunches of lilies and heart-shaped charms made of tin. President Alan Garcia and his son Federico Danton, also dressed in purple habits, saluted the icon from the balcony of the government palace.