Religious processions are occurring throughout Peru during this Easter Week, all beautifully choreographed, with distinct details.
Cusco’s El Señor de los Temblores (“The Lord of the Earthquakes“) festival is a particularly rich expression of tradition and faith tied to a momentous historic event.
The traditional procession dates back to 1650, when the Inca capital city was devastated by a major earthquake, leveling buildings and killing thousands. The earthquake laid waste to just about the entire city, with one exception: the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.
People believed that those who sought shelter inside the Cathedral were protected by el Señor de los Temblores, known in Quechua as Taytacha, a statue of the crucifixion of Jesus, fashioned about 80 years earlier by indigenous artisans.
Ever since, Cusco has marked the event, solemnly carrying Taytacha on a route through the city, on the Monday between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
It is believed that by worshiping the Lord of the Earthquakes, Cusco’s Catholic faithful will be protected from the seismic tremors that rattle Peru on a regular basis.
Many scholars believe the Inca also held similar processions to to venerate Apu deities that caused earthquakes. The ritual procession of the Lord of Earthquakes, they say, marks the mix of Christian and Inca beliefs. It demonstrates how Inka traditions remain deeply rooted in Peru and intertwined with modern-day Catholicism.