On Thursday, June 15th, 2017, my town celebrated the Catholic feast day of Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi–yes, that is the correct spelling here, too–is also known as Día del Corpus. There was another reason for this celebration which was to honor immigrants.
[The biggest Catholic holidays pretty much take over this town. If there were other such large scale events, I would document those, too.]
Corpus Christi is a commemoration of Holy Communion and “Corpus Christi” means, “Body of Christ.” The celebration of a Catholic Mass includes the miraculous act of Transubstantiation, in which the chalice of wine turns into the blood of wine and the holy eucharist, in the form of round, white wafers, turns into the body of Christ. Catholics believe that this is not just symbolic but actually real.
I add the following information in case a reader might want to travel to experience this feast day in Guatemala. According to Wikipedia: “Corpus Christi is a moveable feast, celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, in countries where it is not a holy day of obligation, on the following Sunday. The earliest possible Thursday celebration falls on 21 May (as in 1818 and 2285), the latest on 24 June (as in 1943 and 2038).”
So are you ready for the photographs? It was a remarkable visual treat! These alfombras are very different from the ones for Semana Santa because these do not include colored sawdust carpets. These were made from pine needles, flowers, leaves, and sometimes fruit and other random resources (see cardboard chalices below). They were made in the early morning hours before the procession’s starting hour at 9am.
It’s rainy season here, and although it did not rain during the desfile (procession), there was evidence of the rain from the very early morning hours.
Below: this is an image of a chalice with a holy eucharist rising from it.
I’m always amazed by the artistry of everyone here. There are no galleries in these smaller towns but their artistry is everywhere in their celebrations and traditional clothing.
Below: as the priests and others from the lay religious community walk by, an altar boy swings a thurible which is a metal incense holder used for burning frankincense.
You can see the length of the procession in the photo below. Over three miles of alfombras were laid down for the procession.
I missed being able to show this in the photograph below, but the man with the red belt is actually barefoot. This is somewhat common amongst elder people in more rural communities outside the pueblo.
Below: the priests stopped the procession every so often and everyone would kneel down on the wet, muddy streets in prayer.
As the procession wound around the last few streets, I walked ahead to photograph the inside of the church. Below is the main plaza in front of the church. It was a market day so vendors filled most of the space except an area that featured a bandstand with an amazing group of musicians that had been playing great cumbias all morning. No one except for three men danced, though I was shaking it up in my mind. They stopped before the procession arrived at about noon.
Traditional weavings and huipiles (traditional women’s shirts) were laid down in the last part of the alfombra which led up to the church steps, .
I was so happy to have been able to see the inside of the church before the throngs arrived!
Below: one of about ten free standing statues. They are all adorned in traditional traje (clothing). I am not sure who this is but it might be St. Michael the Archangel, judging by his wings and sword.
I am always surprised and warmed by the openness of devotees who speak their prayers aloud or raise their arms in praise.
Peace be with you. Thanks for seeing/reading this blog. Feel free to leave any comments or questions.