Written and Photographed by Patricia McCormick
I had the privilege of witnessing the El Jesus del Gran Poder procession in Quito on Good Friday. It is one of the largest Good Friday processions in the world; second only to Seville, Spain.
I was not prepared for how moving the procession would be. The visions of sacrifice, self-mortification and total faith of the Ecuadorian people brought tears to my eyes. They whole-heartedly embrace the Old World Catholicism that was brought here several centuries ago by Europeans. The country is 95% Catholic and downtown Quito is home to several impressive cathedrals.
Construction of La Compania was begun in early 1600 and is breathtaking. The interior is all gold and is renowned as the most beautiful cathedral in South America. The famous statue of black Jesus was removed from its home in La Compania and was carried in the procession.
The procession began at the San Franciscan cathedral and the faithful walked, many of them in bare feet, for three or more miles in the hot sun of the equator. People on the parade route poured water on their bare feet or laid down paper and cardboard to protect them from the blistering pavement. Many walked with the procession, some carrying their children; some helped carry the heavy crosses.
Leading the parade was a band playing sacred, somber music. There were several such bands throughout the procession. As is the custom in Spain, many dressed in purple robes with pointed hats. Others carried crosses. Some wore chains around their ankles. Some chose to have barbed wire wrapped around their upper bodies. The devotion and deep faith of these penitents was apparent and deeply moving.
In Spain, the Good Friday procession in which enormous floats are carried by teams of bearers is followed by hundreds of penitents. Some floats date back as far as the 17th Century and are religious works of art. For the bearers carrying the floats, it is a once in a lifetime honor as the people wishing to do so far outnumber the places available. Following the floats, penitents are dressed in capes and pointed head gear. This hides their identity, meaning that only God knows who they are. In Spain, the procession starts at midnight and carries on throughout the night, with huge crowds following their every step.
Although I come from a different culture and religious background, I was deeply moved. I shall not forget the deep faith manifested by these humble people.
This was just another one of our Ecuador adventures. We love the Ecuadorians and their country. And we’d love to have you join us on our next trip. It will be a life changing experience. Contact: MickyEnright@gmail.com
Be sure to read these previous posts that show that we can make a difference in the lives of others in ways that impact everyone involved in the experience: Cotacachi – Mission Accomplished Cotacachi School Progress – WOW!
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