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Antigua's processions

An exercise in patience and prayer

sunny 73 °F

Years ago I visited Antigua for Holy week and I really felt it was one of the most reverent, spectacular, and spiritual events I've ever been to. As Carnaval came to a close and Lent began I experience the first processions of this year. The first official of lent was scheduled for Sunday, February 17 but on Friday, as I was sitting in the house I heard the moribund music of the procession. My friend said that's live music, there's a procession near here go check it out. As so I ran out with camera in hand to find both sides of 2a Avenida Sur lined with people and they approached the Tanque de Union park where my friend lives.

This was the scene as the procession passed Tanque La Union. I don't know how long this procession lasted but it was still impressive. There were lots of cars, motor bikes, and bicycles behind the procession and no one, not one person honked a horn. I'm sure they wanted to go around and some figured out ways to do that, but there is a solemness to this, a ritual that no one wants to disrespect.

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A couple of days later I was attending the board meeting of the PAVA Foundation when we heard the the procession from Santa Catalina was coming by the hotel. We took a break to watch. The first thing I noticed was the alfombras (carpets) near the hotel. I took a photo before the procession walked over it. The creation of these works of art brings great joy to the people creating them. There are two types, one kind is the one's created by friends and neighbors for processions another is created by the church for vigils.

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This isn't Macy's Thanksgiving Day, this is thoughtful, slow, methodical walking and stopping. There were men dressed in in white and others in a purplish blue carrying the various Saints, Virgin Mary, and statue of Jesus being flogged and forced to carry his cross. Why do these men and women undertake this punishing event? I asked one member of the Hermandad de la Consagrada Imagen de Jesus Nazareno del Perdon y Santisima Virgen de Dolores (Brotherhood of the Consecrated Image of Jesus the Nazarene of Forgiveness and the most Holy Virgin of Pain) this question. He said, "there is a strong tradition that goes all the way back to when the Spaniards first arrived and we want to keep those traditions alive. It is a great honor, it brings us closer to God to share the burden is a gift." The cucuruchos in ancient times were sinners who would stand outside the churches forced to wear purple cone hats (called cucurucho) in order to pay for you their sin(s). They suffered the cold rain, heavy sun and severe hunger and were often insulted by the passerby. Not even their relatives would visit them. This was the tribute they offered the church and community for their sins. As time went on they were asked to parade during Holy Week to pay their tribute eventually it morphed into it's current state.

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Today the cucuruchos are not insulted, they are honored for their honesty in admitting they are flawed and sinful. The cucuruchos pay an homage to the church for the honor of marching in the procession and helping to carry the huge floats. The site is quite amazing.

Posted by Aeren 16:44 Archived in Guatemala Tagged religion antigua processions cucuruchos

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