The Incas once paraded the mummies of dead Incas rulers through the streets, but since colonial times the ritual has been boringly changed. Sixty days after Easter Sunday 15 images of saints and virgins arrive from throughout Cusco and greet the body of Christ, which is kept in a golden tavernacle which is 1.2 m/3.9 feet tall.
This celebration is considered one of the most ostentatious ones in Cusco.
The purpose of Corpus Christi is to proclaim and enhance the faith of Catholics in the presence of the “body” of Jesus Christ. With this in mind, the Archbishop of Cusco invites the faithful to celebrate this traditional festival, with faith and devotion, in the courtyard of the Cathedral of Cusco. The Corpus Christi mass takes place at 09:30 am in the presence of the 15 Saints and Virgins brought in procession from their respective Parishes.
You can also find delicious food such as the traditional “Chiriuchu” which in quechua means chiri= cold and uchu= chili pepper. This dish has different ingredients such as boiled chicken, baked cuy or guinea pig, ch’arki or chalona with tortillas, toasted corn, cheese, blood sausage, cochayuyo (seaweed), sausage, cau cau or hueveras de pescado (fish eggs). If you like spicy food you can add to your dish rocoto (Peruvian hot chili pepper).
In the middle of the XVII century a colony poet said a poem when he saw the breathtaking procession at the Cathedral of Cusco. A similar feeling was produced at the beginning of the XXI century by the Andean landscape and the holiness of our Lord in one special ceremony held by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo (1569-1581) in 1572.
Since then, the whole country celebrates Corpus Christi with spirituality and motivation in Cusco. This Catholic celebration is extremely important because it is part of the Andean culture and includes music, traditions and spiritual experiences. Many times we have asked ourselves how this celebration was held in conquest times. And we can say that it was done differently, let us remember that in those days different Incan mallquis or mummies were venerated, but with the Spaniard arrival everything changed.
One distinctive way to see how this celebration took place in the past is by looking at one painting of Jesus Christ and his disciples eating baked cuy (guinea pig) representing “The Last Supper” Many authors say that this display on a painting has an educational purpose which is to explain the main reason to celebrate Corpus Christi: Eucharist understood as a divine, alive and actual presence.
In the Imperial city, the congregation meets since early in the morning for the “Subida de Corpus” carrying the images from their parishes to “The Santa Clara Temple” to accompany Our Lord Jesus Christ the following day. This is a musical and colorful celebration because there are bandsfrom every part of Cusco which play and dance on the streets living this traditional celebration in a fun way.
The ceremony impresses because there are different religious elements which decorate Our Lord. A Golden piece and also silver that is exhibited with the Sacred Host. The custody Pelican which typifies Jesus Christ’s love for all of us because this bird gives its hatchlings blood from its own heart. At noon, there is a procession and in the afternoon a blessing is given before it goes inside the Cathedral.
Come and visit Cusco and explore its magical traditions. We at Tierras Vivas are more than pleased to welcome you to the wonders of Cusco. Contact us for more information.