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Numerous historical studies indicate that the syncretism of this traditional festival dates back to pre-Hispanic religious traditions, where the mallquis or mummies of the ancestors were venerated and later replaced by images of the Blessed Sacrament, saints and virgins.

This celebration coincides with the harvest season in Cusco’s agro-festive calendar and is part of a cultural complex of religious veneration and productive rituals. This scenario, enriched through the centuries, gives the feast of Corpus Christi in the city of Cusco multiple meanings, making it unique and original.


The celebration of Corpus Christi begins on Pentecost Sunday, when the Virgin of Bethlehem, accompanied by Saint Joseph, leaves her temple that has the same name and is taken in procession to the Church of Santa Clara, where she will occupy a special place because she will be visited by the faithful during the following eight days. On Trinity Sunday a solemn mass will be celebrated and then the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed. The following day, the Virgin is taken to the interior of the monastery of Santa Clara and it will be the nuns who will be in charge of dressing her and placing the jewels that she will wear in the procession on Wednesday.


In this procession, known as the entrance, fourteen images of saints from their respective temples gather in front of the temple of Santa Clara and San Francisco square. Only the images of Santiago Apostle and San Jeronimo enter Santa Clara to leave with the Virgin of Bethlehem and thus begin the “entrance” procession to the Cathedral.

At noon on Wednesday, at the ringing of the bells of Santa Clara, the images go in procession to the Cathedral following a traditional order that has been repeated since ancient times.

This is the following order:

Saint Anthony Abbot, patron saint of the University and the Seminary (San Cristobal Church).

St. Jerome, patron saint of doctors and scholars (Church of St. Jerome)

St. Christopher, patron saint of the indigenous people (St. Christopher Church)

Saint Sebastian, patron saint of the noble Indians, from the neighborhood of San Sebastian.

Santa Barbara, patron saint of artillerymen and arquebusiers (Templo del Dulce Nombre de Jesus) of the town of Poroy.

St. Anne, patron saint of the butchers’ guild (Church of St. Anne)

St. James the Apostle, patron saint of the city and of the parish of the Spaniards (Santiago Church).

San Blas, patron saint of artisans, from the neighborhood of Chaquilccasa (San Blas Church).

St. Peter, from the Hospital de Naturales (Church of St. Peter)

St. Joseph(Bethlehem Church)

Virgin of the Almudena(Almudena Church)

Virgin of Bethlehem(Bethlehem Church)

The Virgin of Los Remedios

The Purified Virgin

La Virgen de la Inmaculada, known as La Linda because she resides in the Cathedral, does not participate in the entrance procession.

From each of the churches, the image is carried on a platform, adorned with a luxurious trousseau of beautiful embroidery, some virgins also wear valuable jewelry. Each saint is accompanied by one or more bands of musicians and dancers, as well as the parish priest, the mayordomos, the brotherhood of cargadores and the parishioners who carry the banners, and the city of Cusco becomes a party, where bands and groups of musicians from the different neighborhoods compete. For example, the competition between San Sebastián and San Jerónimo to try to arrive first to the Cathedral of the city is celebrated; early in the morning the image of San Jerónimo departs from the district of the same name, distant about 10 km from Cusco; in the district of San Sebastián, about 5 km away, the image waits on the track, and so on the arrival of the first one, the race begins until arriving at Santa Clara. In the same way Santa Ana is accompanied by Santa Barbara, who comes from Poroy and together they make the journey both there and back, “because a lady does not walk alone”.

In the cathedral, each one of the images will occupy the place that corresponds to it since ancient times. The Lord of the Tremors, as master of the house, presides, according to the tradition referred to by Jorge Flores Ochoa11 , celestial assemblies during all the time the saints remain in the Cathedral. In these assemblies, saints give an account of the situation of their parishes. The Lord of Tremors listens with great attention giving solutions and advice.

Do you want to know the history of each saint?
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