ORIGIN OF THE CUSCO CORPUS
When the Spanish arrived in Cusco; They were surprised to learn that the children of the Sun were taking the mummies of the Incas out in procession; then, brandishing the gospels, they decided to end the pagan festival forever. The solution of the missionaries who accompanied the conquerors was very simple; replace the revered remains with images of the virgin and catholic saints. This is how Corpus Christi was born in the old capital of Tawantinsuyo, a Catholic celebration that was impregnated with Andean nuances.
Today the festivity is important in the Cusco population and in different parishes of Qosqo; preparations begin weeks and even months in advance; for which there is a traditional organization commanded by the mayordomo (“carguyoq”); who is the person who accepts the position. The responsibility and obligation to pay most of the expenses of the festivity; which among others includes masses, new clothing for the Virgin or the Saint of the Parish, the contract with a band of musicians (“q’aperos”); to accompany the procession, a typical orchestra to celebrate the party, food for the guests, brandy, chicha and beer, souvenirs, etc.
On Wednesday, the day before Corpus Christi, the “entry” of the images is made; who leave their parishes in procession accompanied by the priest, the neighbors, the butlers; who carry on their chest the “demands” that are badges or banners sometimes made of silver with the image of the Virgin or Saint; to go to the Cathedral where the image will be deposited until the next day when the main procession takes place.
In this “entrance” of saints, the “race” undertaken by Saint Sebastian and Saint Jerome to try to reach the city’s Cathedral is famous and spectacular; Early in the morning, the image of San Jerónimo departs from the district of the same name, about 10 km away. In the district of San Sebastián, about 5 km away, the image of the town is already on the track; and so when the other image arrives, a mad race begins along the Av. de la Cultura towards the Plaza de Armas.
On this day, in the vicinity of the Plaza de Armas, many merchants have placed their typical food stands for those attending the “entrance”, where the traditional “Chiri Uchu” or “Aji Frio” is served, consisting of small pieces of roasted guinea pig, chicken, ch’arki, sausages, cau-cau, cheese, cornmeal torrejas, toasted corn, qocha-yuyo and rocoto; other stands also serve chicharrones, anticuchos, etc.; and of course beer and chicha. After the entrance of the images to the Cathedral, the people will give free rein to their gastronomic tastes and their thirst for alcohol.
SAINTS AND VIRGINS IN PROCESSION
At noon, it begins with the procession of Saints and Virgins in the Plaza de Armas where thousands of people have gathered. Tradition has an established order for the procession since colonial times, in such a way that the order of exit of the images is as follows:
- San Antonio of the parish of San Cristóbal
- San Jerónimo of the parish of the district of San Jerónimo
- San Cristóbal of the parish of San Cristóbal
- San Sebastián of the parish of the district of San Sebastián
- Santa Bárbara of the parish of the district of Poroy
- Santa Ana of the parish of Santa Ana
- Santiago Apóstol of the parish of Santiago
- San Blas of the parish of San Blas
- San Pedro of the parish of San Pedro
- Saint Joseph of the parish of Bethlehem
- Virgin of the Nativity of the parish of Almudena
- Virgin of the Remedies of the church of Santa Catalina
- Purified Virgin of the parish of San Pedro
- Virgin of Bethlehem of the parish of Bethlehem
- Virgin of the Immaculate Conception also called “La Linda” of the Cathedral.
After the procession of images these are kept inside the Cathedral; where they will remain until the “eighth”, that is, until eight days after Corpus Christi. The day of the “octave” begins with another procession of the Blessed Sacrament followed by the various Saints and Virgins; that they return to their parishes of origin once the procession is over. Already in the parish of the image; in the effervescence of the party and in the midst of the hubbub with music and alcohol; It will be committed to the new butler or “carguyoq”, that is to say to the person who will pay the expenses of the festivity for the next year.