Holy Week & the Lord of Tremors in Cusco

Cusco expects to receive 25 thousand tourists during this year's Holy Week (Semana Santa) celebrations. This is the time of year when the Imperial City of the Incas honors its patron saint, the Lord of Tremors (Señor de los Temblores), also known as the Black Christ, with feasting, dancing, and processions in his honor.

Who is the Lord of Tremors? Originally, he was a neglected statue of the Lord of Good Death, tucked away in one of the chapels of the Basilica Cathedral and darkening slowly over time due to its resinous construction materials and the smoke of candles and incense. On Palm Sunday in 1650, the worst earthquake of Cusco's known history ravaged its colonial buildings, and continued in aftershocks for days. Amidst the crumbling buildings, the faithful pleaded and bargained for forgiveness, with the women covering their faces in ashes and the men dragging heavy chains. When the statue of the Lord of Good Death was taken out in procession and placed in the Plaza de Armas, the aftershocks ceased, and a new cult of belief was born. Each Holy Monday, the processions continue.

Palm Sunday, March 29th

As in the other cities in Peru, Palm Sunday begins with mass in the Basilica Cathedral, followed by religious reenactments, traditional folkloric dances, and a procession of faithful getting their palms blessed. Food stalls pop up in the Plaza San Francisco, while San Jeronimo plaza hosts the Festival de Sabor Andino, a food fair offering traditional Holy Week foods such as roast suckling pig and tamales.

Holy Monday, March 30th

On the evening of this day, you can watch the procession of the Lord of Tremors, whose heavy statue is carried along on a litter. The faithful throw red ñucchu petals, where were once used as an offering to Inca gods and now symbolize the blood of Christ.

Good Friday, April 3rd

At 4am on this day, the faithful begin a cold walk along the Stations of the Cross, beginning at Plaza San Francisco and ending at the White Christ by Sacsayhuaman Archological Complex. Whereas many countries fast, Cusco feasts, with families preparing 12 dishes.

On Easter Sunday, on April 5th, Quechua-language masses are performed in the Basilica Cathedral.

You can expect to find a small food fair around San Pedro Market (half a block from Plaza San Francisco) throughout the week, and a large one in Jardín de la Cerveza. The latter seeks to rescue Cusco's Holy Week tradition of preparing 12 small dishes.

Ready your camera, pack some snacks, and enjoy the fun in Cusco this Easter!

Inca World Team
Publication date: 10 Mar 2015
Sources: <a href=" https://plus.google.com/u/0/107060027985626386869/about?tab=XX?rel=author">Carla Colon</a>

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