2008-03. Procession of the Laying Christ of the Calvary
March 25th, 2008
Guatemala City, Guatemala.
March 21, 2008. Good Friday.
Issue: Society / Culture
The religious processions of Antigua Guatemala during Easter have been well documented and are renowned throughout the world. Nevertheless, the ones carried out in the Capital City are also very impressive not only in size and attendance, but very colorful and of great importance within Guatemalan culture and its Catholic community.
Multiple processions are attended by “thousands of Catholic parishioners who reenact the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ during the Easter celebrations.” (1)
Detail of a carriage representing Death.
“The carpets, made out of sawdust, flowers or fruits, constitute one of the most important characteristics of the Guatemalan celebrations of Easter. These lengthy and extraordinary carpets, unique to Guatemalan culture, form part of the so-called popular ephemeral art and are intertwined with the collective memory of every Guatemalan. It is a clear example of the religious and cultural syncretism.” (2)
“Their origin comes from two sources: during Pre-Hispanic times, Spanish documentarians from the 16th century as well as written indigenous testimonies, recorded that local lords and priests would, on certain ceremonies, walk over carpets made from flowers, pine needles and feathers from precious birds such as quetzals, hummingbirds, and macaws… In addition, there is also the Spanish influence from the Canary Islands, in particular from Tererife and Gomera, where large carpets were created since remote times. A testimony from the 7th century reveals colorful dirt passageways with flowers and different types of sand.” (3)
Of all the celebrations in Guatemala City, the one featuring a gigantic wooden platform with a lying down Jesus Christ, known as the image of the Buried Lord, definitely stands out.
Every Good Friday, such platform is paraded around the historical centre of the Capital City, known as Zone 1, and it is considered the largest in the world as it requires 140 people to carry it.
“The image of the Buried Lord, laying in proper burial position, is attributed to the sculptor Pedro de Mendoza, from the mid-17th century. It was consecrated on November 19th, 1989.” (4)
2 Lara, Celso. “Las Alfombras”. March 30, 2007. http://www.deguate.com/artman/publish/especiales_semanasanta/Las_Alfombras_7350.shtml
4 Special issue from Prensa Libre: “Semana Santa 2008. Recorridos procesionales de la Ciudad Capital, La Antigua Guatemala y Pregón departamental”. Guatemala, March 8, 2008. P. 10.