Thousands of pilgrims from Cusco, Peru and around the world travel innumerable miles to pay tribute to the Lord of Huanca. This pilgrimage is very important for all the devout who come with much faith and commitment to his temple without concern for the weather or other difficulties.
Some people walk long distance to get to the temple. To do that they begin at night in the plaza of San Jeronimo which it the point of encounter for devotees, no matter their ages. Young people go as do adults and the elderly. Complete families make the walk. According to tradition once one has walked this pilgrimage one must do it for the following three consecutive years. If you do not your petitions will also not be fulfilled.
Other people prefer to make their way by vehicle, whether private car or in buses. The buses depart from the closed coliseum (Coliseo cerrado) of Cusco.
It is said that the origin of this Christ the martyr, as he is called, developed in the XVII century when an Indian named Diego fled to Huanca to escape his masters who mistreated him. It is said that when he arrived at Huanca he prayed all day and all night that they would not find him. When night fell again the image of the bleeding Christ appeared to him. Filled with much emotion he decided to call the best painter of the village for him to immortalize the image of Christ that he had seen in a cliff face.
One custom that people carry out in devotion to the lord of Huanca is to bathe in freezing waters that come from the glaciated peak of Pachatusan. It is a rite of purification of body and soul. For this end people remove their clothes without concern.
Other people take water home in bottles and other receptacles to bless their houses, their vehicles, their businesses, etc. The also make gifts of it to people who were not able to visit the sanctuary.
A few meters before you reach the sanctuary, you will seem small stores that offer visitors candles, flowers, decorations in which you see the image of the Lord of Huanca and others. When you enter the sanctuary you can see people lighting white candles, or candles of different colors. Each color is for a different purpose. Other people make figures out of melted wax, such as cars, farms, hearts, etc. They represent people’s desire to obtain the object drawn in candle wax. Many people comment that they were able to obtain what they wanted after making these drawings in wax and, as a result, every year more people come to make more requests.
Outside the sanctuary you can also see people making figures out of stones, such as houses and more which also represent their requests.
Similarly people buy miniatures to have blessed in hopes of obtaining their desires.
Without doubt, the pilgrimage to the Lord of Huanca is one of the most popular of those which are near Cusco. It is a measure of the great faith and devotion of Cusqueños toward Christ.