Holy Week in the Villages

The city known today as La Antigua Guatemala was founded in the Panchoy Valley on March 10th, 1543 and has an impressive legacy due in large part to having once been the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala, which stretched from the southern parts of modern-day Mexico all the way to what is today Costa Rica. The city’s historical, cultural, artisanal, and religious legacy is part of the appeal that attracts visitors from around the world.

While La Antigua is widely recognized as the center of religious activities in Guatemala during Lent and Holy Week, surrounding the city are 22 aldeas (villages) – founded in the 16th and 17th centuries – that also participate in the celebrations of the season.

#Procesion de Santa Ana #Javier O. #semana #santa #aldeas
Foto por: Javier Ordoñez

 

It’s well known that some of the aldeas – such as San Bartolomé Becerra, San Cristobal El Bajo, San Felipe de Jesús, Santa Ana, Santa Catarina Bobadilla, and Santa Inés del Monte Pulciano – are renowned for their holy vigils and processions; however, other villages – San Pedro Las Huertas and San Juan del Obispo, for example – also conduct Lenten activities which, although they don’t receive as much publicity, are definitely worth seeing.

Getting to the villages surrounding La Antigua is easy because most of them are easily accessed by public transport or are close enough that you can walk there. On your way, you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery, and upon arriving you’ll discover postcard-like scenes of traditional, everyday life – scenes that are not always as easy to find in urban areas. If you prefer to take a taxi, in La Antigua you’ll find several – at Parque Central and at the Municipal Market – or, of you’re staying at a hotel, you can check with the staff to see if they can recommend one for you.

The villages’ churches, some very simple and some very old, have a unique beauty that skillfully combines Spanish colonial designs with elements that perpetuate the identity of the people who live there. At the holy vigil (velación) at each aldea‘s church, it’s quite common to see some of the village’s own agricultural products used to decorate the altar and to create huertos (elaborate and artistic “gardens” of fruit and vegetable offerings that decorate the floor in front of the church’s altar during velaciones). For example, it’s not unusual to see nísperos (a kind of fruit) used in the huerto at the church in San Juan del Obispo, a town known for its nísperos, or to see lush exofilia plants, grown at the foot of Volcán de Agua, in the huerto in the nearby church at San Pedro Las Huertas.

In addition to the ones in La Antigua’s surrounding villages, holy vigils, processions, and other Lenten events are celebrated to commemorate the season in the other municipalities in the department of Sacatepéquez (and in those municipalities’ villages, as well).

On Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, there are some velaciones that you should not miss. These include:

#Viacrucis y pasos #Raul Armas #semana #santa #aldeas
Foto por: Raul Armas

 

  • Holy Tuesday, March 31st – Holy vigil at the church in San Pedro Las Huertas
  • Holy Tuesday, March 31st – Holy vigil at the church in San Miguel Escobar
  • Holy Wednesday, April 1st – Holy vigil at the church in San Lorenzo El Cubo

The processions that are celebrated on Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week include:

Holy Tuesday, March 31st – Procession in San Antonio Aguas Calientes

  • Holy Tuesday, March 31st – Procession in San Juan Alotenango
  • Holy Wednesday, April 1st – Procession in San Miguel Dueñas
  • Holy Wednesday, April 1st – Procession in San Antonio Aguas Calientes
  • Holy Wednesday, April 1st – Procession in San Lorenzo El Cubo

Visiting these places and observing how the local communities express their piety and devotion will surprise you. It’s a good opportunity to get to know these out-of-the-way corners of La Antigua and the department of Sacatepéquez. Although they’re not much mentioned or publicized, they nevertheless contribute to the rich tapestry of Guatemalan identity and culture.

Written by: Sofia Letona

 

Santa Inés del Monte Pulciano Church

La aldea de Santa Inés del Monte Pulciano – conocida como Santa Inés – se ubica sobre la carretera que lleva de La Antigua hacia la Ciudad de Guatemala. Fundada en el siglo XVII,la primera ermita fue abierta para servicios religiosos en el año de 1685. Debido a los terremotos, la ermita original fue destruida y aquella que se construyó posteriormente fue finalmente abierta luego de ser restaurada en 1985. La fiesta patronal en honor a Santa Inés del Monte Pulcianose celebra el 16 de mayo de cada año.

San Francisco El Grande Church

La iglesia de San Francisco el Grande fue construida en 1579. En el oeste, la portada se distingue por hermosas columnas salomónicas almohadilladas y la fachada principal del templo muestra 12 nichos. Allí se encuentra la capilla que conserva el cuerpo de San Pedro de San José de Betancur y a un costado, se encuentra el Museo del Santo Hermano Pedro donde se exhiben sus reliquias y algunas pertenencias.

San Cristóbal El Bajo Church

Construida en 1680, con diseño arquitectónico de clara influencia española, la iglesia de San Cristóbal El Bajo – al norte de La Antigua — ha sobrellevado exhaustivos trabajos de rescate y renovación que concluyeron en diciembre de 2004. Los trabajos estuvieron a cargo del Consejo Nacional para la Protección de Antigua con fondos y materiales donados por Cementos Progreso y la Fundación Carlos F. Novella.

La Merced Church

Ubicada a dos cuadras y media de la Plaza Central de La Antigua, se distingue por su estilo ultrabarroco guatemalteco y las dos torres-campanarios que se observan en la fachada. La reconstrucción de la iglesia, luego de varios terremotos, estuvo a cargo de Juan de Dios Estrada y finalmente se inauguró en 1767.