- (Photo: AP Photo / Nelson Antoine)
Over a million people took to the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday for the 18th annual March for Jesus.
The event, held each year on the 60th day after Easter Sunday, drew believers from various denominations as well as hundreds of floats from different parts of the country.
For about 12 hours, participants of the march trekked across 2.5 miles with music blaring and hands lifted to the sky as part of an effort to reveal how the Church is not confined within the walls of buildings but alive and open to society.
The effort also aims to unite churches in the predominantly Catholic nation in an act of public expression of “faith, love, gratitude and exaltation of the name of Jesus Christ,” according to organizers.
“[The march is] a peaceful act [and a] conscious and exciting movement of God in our day,” they say.
Organizers had expected the participation of up to five million people – or about a quarter of São Paulo's population of 20 million. Initial estimates have put the actual figure at over a million.
With 74 percent of the country describing themselves as Roman Catholic, Brazil is home to the world’s largest Roman Catholic population.
Notably, however, Catholicism in Brazil has declined since 1990, when Catholics comprised 84 percent of the country's population. Evangelical Protestants, meanwhile, have grown from nine percent in 1990 to 15 percent, according to the 2000 census.