Customs, Events

The Way of the Cross in Cuzco

Cruz de Moqo (Wayra)

Mountains that impede the passage of air currents surround the city of Cuzco and, in this way, protect the city from harsh weather. On the mountains’ tops there are crosses that look over the city as if to keep it safe.

During this Holy Week people will visit the mountains’ crosses as a pilgrimage. Depending on the district in which they live they will go to the mountain that is understood to be almost a patron of that area, what we call Apus, such as Saqsayhuaman, Picol, or others that are close.

The different churches of Cuzco organize a Via Crucis, or a pilgrimage to the Stations of the Cross, in which people commemorate the path that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. At the mountain’s base people begin with the first station of the cross. There they pause to tell a part of the holy story. Then they advance to another cross, and so on until they finish at the top of the mountain.

All of the faithful walk the whole way with prayers and songs. This all begins early in the morning, perhaps 2 or 3 am depending on the distance to the mountain’s top. The path and activities at the top of Saqsayhuaman are very well known since so many of the churches of Cuzco gather there and it becomes a pilgrimage with a large number of people.

Another well-known cross is that of Tetecaca. It is taken from its position and is carried up the whole path on the shoulders of its faithful. They begin from the main plaza of Cuzco, which is the first station, and the go up to the church of San Cristobel where they pause and then continue up to the backside of the archeological park of Saqsayhuaman.

On a day like today Jesus died and people after remembering all the stations of the cross, filled with sadness, return home to begin their preparation for the 12 dishes, for being with their families, and for living this day of Holy Week to its fullest.

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