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.