The Saints of Cuzco left their parish homes yesterday to enter into the Plaza in a grand procession with their bands, bearers, priests, and followers. Today they will leave the Cathedral in procession with the Custodia is a massive silver vessel that carries the Holy Host in processions.
It is a grand day in Cuzco and one of the holiest of days in the city. As part of this people speak of the saints, their differences, jealousies, conflicts, and particularities.
By Saqsayhuaman stands the temple of San Cristóbal (Christopher) which was built in the first years after the Spanish conquest by the Cacique Cristóbal Paullo, one of the Inca Elite. He was Señor, Lord of Qoqanpata and built this temple to show his devotion to Christianity.
St. Cristóbal is represented in the moment of passing the Child God from one side to the other, while holding on to a tree with his right hand and sustaining the child in his other arm. The child is almost found on his shoulder. The child is represented in the moment of trying to say something to Cristóbal. He is signaling with his right arm while holding a silver sphere in his hand that symbolizes the world. Cristóbal looks at the child as if to say “You are very heavy and I did not know you were Jesus.”
In reality some of the story of St Cristóbal has the child Jesus cross a river from one side to the other on his shoulders. In the middle he becomes aware Jesus is very heavy and that is why he grabs hold of the tree with his other hand. They say the child weighed too much and the child Jesus said that was because he carried all the sins of the world.
That is why they say the saint is the heaviest of all. The men who carry him take turns in order to carry him successfully in procession, given his weight. Together with St. Anthony, St. Cristóbal leaves his Church in procession along with a great multitude of people, bands of musicians, dancers, and more.
The two saint begin their journey looking into each other’s faces and to the sound of a melody they greet each other. Then they leave St. Cristóbal’s temple and arrive at the front of the Salesian School, where they receive a cordial greeting on the part of the Salesian family along with flowers and a benediction before continuing their path.
Then they arrive at the end of Saphi Street where they rest, relieving the bearers. The dancers also rest. After some five or ten minutes they once again begin their way to the Plaza de Armas of the City of Cuzco.
Something that calls attention is the table on which they place the Saint to rest. Just like the saint, this table also is very heavy and is carried by boys who go before the saint waiting for orders in order to be able to stop when it is time to set the saint on the table.
From the time people are children they follow these traditions closely and they learn the details about the whole feast that is lived this month. Within the event there are also traditional dishes that are served to everyone who accompanies the Saint.