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Holy Week in Quito through the Procession of Jesús del Gran Poder

Holy Week in Quito, Ecuador, is a celebration of great importance and religious significance for the Catholic community where faith, tradition, and community come together in a unique and moving celebration. During this week, the city is filled with religious events, processions, and deep-rooted traditions that attract local faithful and tourists from all over the world.


Parishioners carry heavy wooden crosses through the streets of the historic center of Quito.
Parishioners carry heavy wooden crosses through the streets of the historic center of Quito.

Good Friday: Procession of de Jesús del Gran Poder


In Ecuadorian Holy Week, one of the most famous processions is the procession of Jesús del Gran Poder, it is considered the most important religious celebration in the city of Quito, which we had the opportunity to attend in person. We arrived in Quito on Holy Thursday late at night and we were not able to witness the procession of Silence. Early Friday we walked from the hotel to the Historic Center of Quito. Early in the morning, the crowd sits on the sidewalks to wait for the procession.


This procession has been carried out since 1961, initially at the initiative of priest Francisco Fernández, and continues to be held annually on Good Friday to remember the death of Jesus. The tour begins at noon, at the church of San Francisco, one of the architectural jewels of the Historic Center of Quito, and crosses the streets of the Historic Center from south to north and then returns.


The devotion and intensity of the religious celebration truly leave a lasting impression on those of us who witness it for the first time. The Cucuruchos and the Veronicas are the traditional characters that accompany Jesús del Gran Poder and Virgen Dolorosa on this journey.

 

The Cucuruchos symbolize penitents who show their repentance and want to begin a life free of sins.
The Cucuruchos symbolize penitents who show their repentance and want to begin a life free of sins.

The Penitent Souls are women covered in white veils who represent the search for redemption and forgiveness.
The Penitent Souls are women covered in white veils who represent the search for redemption and forgiveness.

The combination of the gathered crowd, the thousands of cucuruchos with their purple tunics and hoods, as well as the obvious sacrifice of those who walk barefoot in the rain and some carry poisonous herb, in their hands. The cucuruchos that left me astonished were the ones with cactus crosses on their backs as seen in the photo, it is an image that will surely remain engraved in my memory forever.


The Cucuruchos with the cacti on the back.
The Cucuruchos with the cacti on the back.

Without a doubt, attending early to find a good location and preparing yourself to be surrounded by a crowd of people is important to be able to fully enjoy the procession. It is interesting to note how street vendors take advantage of the occasion to offer sweets and other products, including raincoats, which can be useful considering the weather conditions that may occur during the event. These small interactions add an extra element to the experience, allowing attendees to further engage with the unique atmosphere of this celebration.




Roman Soldiers doing their job during the procession.
Roman Soldiers doing their job during the procession.

The procession of Jesús del Gran Poder is an opportunity for both Quiteños and visitors from other parts of the country and the world to come together for a unique experience. This procession has been a symbol of the faith and devotion of the Ecuadorian Catholic community. Beyond its religious meaning, this event is also a cultural and heritage expression that reflects the identity and history of Quito.


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