Chile: Crushed by Catholics


So……  I’d checked into the hotel and had about 3 hours sleep,  breakfast and a little walk around the neighbourhood before the manservant arrived.  Poor guy probably wanted to just lie down & sleep but I insisted on starting the exploration of Santiago. We set off to the Cathedral of Santiago,  Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago  which sits on the Plaza de Armas. Construction began on the cathedral in 1748 and ended 1800 but another 100 years of renovations & additions, including the two towers completed in 1906, resulted in a mix of baroque and classical styles.    The church is the seat of the Archbishop of Santiago de Chile.

It was a Sunday so it was not surprising to see people sitting in the pews though I did wonder aloud how they could possibly hold a service while people with cameras roamed around and there was so much noise!  The high altar is difficult to see in my photos but it is impressive – it is marble set with lapis lazuli.  When we saw the purple robes we realized we’d stumbled into some sort of special mass.

As the service began we pushed our way backwards and went off to have lunch.  A few hours later we were walking back through the Plaza when people just surged out of the church trapping us up against a barricade.  I thought the  manservant was going to crush my ribs as he was holding me up.  It sounds scary but I was not actually worried –  I was thinking how cool it was to be right there in the middle of the action!  I also thought it was annoying that the manservant was squeezing me so tightly; it was hindering my breathing!

So what was the procession?  It was the Comunidad Peruana celebro al senor de los Milagros.  (I found it on the Cathedral’s Twitter feed that night).   A Peruvian Lord of Miracles celebration which takes place on major feast days in October – a month known as Mes Morado (purple month).

The Cathedral’s website (via Google translator) said:  “More than two thousand Peruvians living in Chile, participated on Sunday October 27 in the procession of the “Lord of Miracles”,  Mass was presided over by Bishop Emeritus of Juli, Peru, Monsignor Raimundo Revoredo, and concelebrated by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz.”

I felt the crush of every one of those 2,000 as they each tried to get as close as they could to the image of Christ lying on an altar.  This weighs 950 kilos (over 2,000 lbs) and was carried by 20 members of the Brotherhood.  At times it looked as though it was difficult for them to keep it level as the crowd pressed in on them.

 Around the year 1650, members of a slave brotherhood in the Pachacamilla neighbourhood in Lima, Peru, painted an image of crucified Christ on the wall of a house where members met.  On November 13th 1655 a powerful earthquake devastated Lima without damaging the wall or the image.   It was this event that began the popular worship of Lord of Miracles.



17 responses

  1. Wow, that’s enthusiasm! Beautiful photos. I’ve never been, but from everything I understand, there seems to be a more genuine reverence for Mary and Jesus than there is in the States or elsewhere.

    • That photo is one of my favourites – it was basically “shot from the hip” as I felt a little intrusive taking it (I took 2(. And you really notice how big the church is when you realize all those ants in-front of it are people ..

      Love your new avatar!

  2. The Cathedral of St. Mary’s in San Francisco has a large sign in the entryway asking visitors not to take photos during the services, but the Asian tourists do anyway, lol. I suppose they can’t read the sign, or pretend not to. Still, I would think, as long as you’re not using a flash and are sitting far enough in the back, taking a few photographs wouldn’t be intrusive.

    That said, I do love old cathedrals. They invite contemplation in a way modern mega-churches do not. I once attended a wedding in some huge glass Lutheran church: it looked so much like an office building or the food court of a mall, I almost wanted to get up and look for a vending machine.

    • I was probably guilty of doing things signs requested people not do because I couldn’t read Spanish. Tourists do get away with a few things. But it’s easy to understand the camera symbol with a red slash through it – which I obeyed.

      LOL @ wanting to look for a vending machine in the church! Some “churches” around us look nothing like churches – I suppose they are houses of worship rather than the traditional church/cathedral. Some of them look like a school hall and one used to be a shop! They converted it by taking out the counter and merchandise shelves and they just have folding chairs in there and a little podium-pulpit at the front. Weird!.

    • Thank you GOF – I was worried the photos might use up all your computer power. 🙂 Hopefully your solar system is pulling in lots of sunrays at the moment.

      I think there are direct flights from Sydney to Santiago now – but you’re right about the flying sardine! The Copa Airlines planes were small compared to the jumbos I fly to Australia in.

  3. What a fantastic thing to stumble upon! I’m so glad that you got to see it. That’s so cool. I cannot imagine the crush/ fervour.

    I went to Lourdes but was told ‘thankfully, it’s no where near feast days.’ There were still queues but lots of open spaces. I was told that it’s usually MENTAL there (it’s a famous pilgrimage spot, if you’re not up with that — I wasn’t before going but the family I was with, Our Lady of Lourdes is their family’s patron saint, so they have to go like 4 times a year).

  4. Pingback: from Chile to chilly Missouri! | awesome, yet modest, which is nice

  5. Oh my goodness! I can’t believe I’ve missed so many of your posts! I realize this and the next few were during the time Mariser & I flew to Frankfurt so I know why I missed them but I thought I had only missed a few! Well now I have an evening of entertainment lined up! 🙂
    Anyway, that is cool you stumbled upon that special mass!

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