Saturday, June 4, 2016

Religion in Peru 101: Introduction to Corpus Christi

            Corpus Christi is a traditional religious celebration that represents fifteen saints and virgins, arriving from different places to the Cathedral of Cusco in order to greet the body of Christ. Every year, the festival attracts thousands of visitors and faithful believers to come to Cusco and fill its opening spaces. Although I did not have much previous knowledge about religion in Peru, Corpus Christi gave me a good introduction to how Peruvians practice their religious beliefs.
            When we left Casa Elena and tried to get to the San Pedro Cathedral on Wednesday, I was shocked to see the number of people in public areas. It seemed that everyone in Cusco had come out to watch the saints being brought to the Cathedral. When we were walking on the street, there was a huge crowd of people and all that I could see was people both in front of and behind us. In the plazas, there were literally no empty spaces. Areas that used to be good picture spots were either regulated by the police for safety purposes, or taken by individual vendors. All the public spaces were filled with people and the whole city of Cusco was a big celebration of Corpus Christi. The area in front of the San Pedro Cathedral became a huge market that sold all kinds of products. We were able to find juice, cuy, fruits and local bakeries. After arriving at the front area of the Cathedral, we saw some saints being brought out to the street and lifted by local people.

            The celebration of Corpus Christi was exciting and crazy. This can be proved by the amount of people on the streets. However, as a visitor of Cusco, I think that the celebration is more like a special holiday that people come out and hang out with friends. Many public spaces are used for small businesses, and most people are attracted by the various kinds of products sold during the celebration. Without reading anything about Corpus Christi before joining the festival, I would not have realized that it was a religious practice. Neither would I have understood why all the saints and virgins were brought out. However, the celebration of Corpus Christi has brought much vitality to the city of Cusco, and I wish that I could experience it again.

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