"The amazing churches of Quito’s World Heritage-listed Old Town will open their doors and the hearts of the faithful for the ceremonies of Easter Week here in the Ecuadorian capital. The finest of the world’s religious music artists will fill these temples with songs of praise. The tables of Quito’s restaurants and homes will be brimming with fine food – in particular the incredible fanesca soup. It’s a great time to come to Quito!
The churches, plazas and streets of the historic centre will be the city’s stage where the greatest celebration in the Christian calendar will unfold. These are of great religious importance to the faithful of the city, but they also express strong cultural elements that are very particular to this Andean city. The "Arrastre de Caudas" or Dragging of the Flag ceremony hails back to traditions of the Roman Empire which today only takes place in Quito and Seville in Spain. The procession of Jesús del Gran Poder (Jesus the Almighty), in which tens of thousands of citizens take part, is a captivating spectacle of the city’s faith which completely transforms the historic centre on Good Friday."
So, on Good Friday, a friend of mine from work invited me to go to the processions with her family. We took a taxi into Old Quito then walked to the square where the procession would pass. We had reservations at La Plaza Grande, a very nice hotel right on the path of the procession. We paid $20 for lunch (the traditional fanesca soup, empandas w/ cheese and a glass of wine) then after our meal we were taken across the street to a covered seating area. Soft drinks and coffee were served while we sat out of the sun and away from the crowds. That alone was well worth the $20! The procession begins at midday to recall the hour which Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to death. The hooded cucuruchos and the robed Verónicas are the traditional figures who accompany Jesús del Gran Poder (Jesus Almighty) and the Virgen Dolorosa (Virgin of Sorrows) on the procession which starts and ends at the San Francisco church and which passes through a large swathe of the historical centre.
Here are some pictures from the day:
-Old Quito has many hitorical churches. This was my first time in the area and we didn't have time to really visit the churches, but when Ronnie comes back I look forwarding to spending a day touring all of the history in this region of the city.
-And this is why those seats were SO great.- The procession would come from way down this street. -After waiting and waiting, it finally reached us.-The cucuruchos symbolize the penitents who, dressed in purple, show their repentance and their will to change. There are also many penitents carrying crosses, or with their feet chained, or even with real thorns wrapped around their heads. -The Verónicas recall the woman who came to Jesus as He carried the cross, and who wiped His face full of sweat and blood (the origin of the Shroud of Turin). In Quito, the Verónicas also wear purple, their faces hidden by black shrouds.
It really was a very interesting experience. I wish Ronnie were here to see it, too. Maybe next year...
I hope you all had a very happy and blessed Easter!