Every August 1-14th the heavy, Holy Wooden Cross of Motupe (Cruz de Motupe), which lives in a protected cave most of the year is brought out on the shoulders of faithful through the towns of Salitral and Zapote, making a long journey eventually to the town of Motupe where over a ten-day period, about 25,000 pilgrims visit it, holding many masses and carrying it through the streets for multiple long overnight processions.
Where: Motupe, Lambayeque, Peru
Event (English): Holy Cross of Motupe Religious Festival
Event (Spanish): Festividad Religiosa en Honor a la Santísima Cruz de Motupe
Contact (in Spanish):
Brotherhood of St Julian’s Parish (Hermandad de la Parroquia San Julián)
Tel: (074) – 42-6105 / (074) – 42-6038
Background and History:
The event centers around a giant cross told to be made by a beloved, and once recluse priest who hid the cross in a high cave above the town to protect it. Upon his death, the villagers searched for the cross (one of three reported) and this cross was eventually found a few years later in 1868. Ever since then, this event has grown and spans a 14 day period twice a year:
August 2nd: The Priest and faithful climb up the cliff side to the cave and carefully carry it down to the village of Zapote where a mass is held and it remains overnight guarded by parishioners. After the mass are festivities including a large fireworks display, marching bands and general exuberance.
August 3rd: Faithfully the cross is carried on shoulders from Zapote to the smaller village of Salitral, where it continues on a path carpeted with artful designs all in flower petals (which are destroyed as a sacrifice when the faithful carry the cross over it. The cross remains in the church of Salitral overnight.
August 4th: With great joy the Holy Wooden Cross is carried on backs from the village of Salitral to Motupe where it arrives at around 5 PM to a grand entry with bells ringing, fireworks shooting all around and thousands of people cheering. The masses accompany the cross to the church of San Julian of Motupe, where mass is held welcoming the cross to the world, and the cross is installed in an outside atrium to be visited by all. A high-level of exuberance abounds in the town and there are all kinds of festivities throughout the night: food, crafts, games and a great deal of entertainment.
August 5th: This is the day of the main festivities, beginning with a mass attended by about 25,000 parishioners and pilgrims held at 11:00 AM in the atrium overlooking the main park, afterward the Holy Wooden Cross is carried into the church, where long lines of people silently visit it all day long. Then, at 6 PM the faithful carry the heavy cross into the streets for a procession that lasts late into the wee hours of the next morning.
August 6th: Again a mass is held at 11:00 AM and then at 7:00 PM and the cross is born throughout the streets all night long.
August 7th-12th: The cross is in the church for those who wish to visit and pay respects.
August 12th-13th: The sacred image of Christ is brought out into the streets at night to pour blessings on the people.
August 14th: A farewell mass is held in the main park and the cross is then carried back to the village of Salitral, and then to Zapote where it makes its way back up the rocky ledges to its home in the cave where it will stay until February when a similar, but smaller procession and series of festivities are held.
[TBS_ALERT color=”danger”] Finally, in 2011 two thieves stole the cross stripping it of its gold and silver ornamentation, cutting it into smaller pieces and burning part of it. It was lost for a period of two days. The cross has been partially restored and the faithful have not been detrerred.[/TBS_ALERT]
Photo Credits: (from top to bottom) 1. Women with Cross, El Comercio/Wilfredo Sandoval 2. Men Bearing Cross, Facebook/Jhan Carlos Saavedra 3. Old Cross, Facebook/Santisima Cruz de Chalpon de Motupe 4. Band and Holy Procession, Facebook/Santisima Cruz de Chalpon de Motupe 5. All Bearing the Cross, El Comercio/Wilfredo Sandoval 6. Mass in the Park, El Comercio/Wilfredo Sandoval