Tags / Caracas
Caracas is touched by faith and devotion to a leader that requires no election bar love and unity
As a part of the Christian celebrations that take place in Venezuela during Holy Week, there’s one in Caracas called “El Nazareno de San Pablo” (The Nazarene of Saint Paul), the most popular of the processions made in honor of the image of Christ bearing the cross. The celebration took place in downtown Caracas on 1 April 2015 and attracted thousands of people.
Whatever the political storms to hit Venezuela since 1998, this procession has consistently drawn some of the country’s largest numbers of participants. In spite of the socio-economic crisis now plaguing Venezuelans, both their devotion to this tradition and their religious identity in general remain strong. Whatever the effects of Chavismo, these traditions have overcome the many other transformations their lives have undergone in this era.
This festival’s popularity dates to an old legend that a miracle saved thousands of people from a terrible disease. As the plague carried off thousands of lives, Holy Week arrived, and with it, several processions of different “Nazarenos” carrying the cross through various cities around the country. In the church of San Pablo in downtown Caracas, a wooden Christ was taken to the streets as it did each year. Suddenly, he got tangled in a lemon tree. When the lemons fell, people started eating them, and those who were sick began to heal. Word quickly spread, and more people came to eat the lemons from the miraculous lemon tree. Since then, thousands of people all over the country come to the procession that occurs every Wednesday of Holy Week. Most of the parishioners go dressed in purple, carrying crosses and a crown of thorns. Some choose to express their devotion by walking barefoot down the path as an offer or payment for a promise.
Downtown Caracas celebrates in many ways and is flooded with colors portraying the different aspects of Venezuelans’ religious idiosyncrasy. Peddlers, among others, take advantage of the festivity to do a bustling business selling candles, incense, purple robes and other religious items. Everyone participates in a different way, from those who join the procession to kids and elders selling merchandise used by the parishioners involved in the ceremony.
The experience embraces a symphony of colors, scents, and sounds. The melody of a church organ meets the crying of the youngsters; the murmur of the prayers meets the discourse of the priest; purple robes, wooden crosses and yellow palm leafs dance to the scent of orchids and incense. From early morning to late at night, the “normal routine” of the booming capital pauses before these outpourings of Christian faith and devotion. Indeed, Caracas is a city of multiple faces. Amidst their convoluted lives, Caraqueños (people from Caracas) still seek the love and unity that these days are harder to come by. Indeed, the Wednesday of the Holy Week is hardly the only time that Caraqueños take to the streets from dawn ‘til dusk.
People from the community of Petare, one of Latin America's largest slums, take part in the Via Crucis organized by the parishioners of the "El Nazareno" sector in one of Caracas' poorest districts.
A participant in the Via Crucis, a local kid from the community, plays the role of the centurion for the audience.
Two young women play Mary and Magdalena, watching onward as Jesus is tortured.
Though time it's Christ who's lying on the streets of Petare, most days it's someone else - the daily victims of local crime.
At the scene of Jesus' torture, a priest is stained by representations of his blood.
Mary at the stage cleaning the scene of the torture of Jesus
a scene of Jesus's torture
The scene of the Via Crucis when Jesus gets a crown of thorns
Petare's Via Crucis is as realistic as possible, without really harming the actors looks stunishing and real
The people of Petare as they walk from the Nazareno sector to El Morro, where the Via Crucis ends
Some People choose their roofs to have a better view of the Via Crucis without having to struggle for a place among the people
Over the streets between the Nazareno sector and El Morro goes the Via Crucis having Petare as a stage.
The representation is so cruel that this little girl started to cry
Petare, the biggest slum in Latin America covers the east side of Caracas
The people of the comunity at the final point of the Via Crucis.
One of the two thievs who were crucified with Jesus about to play the final scene
The actors of the centurions also guard the people so they don't get in the stage
one of the two thievs who were crucified with Jesus after he's mounted in his cross
The other actors help secure the other thief to his cross
Jesus as he plays the final scene of the Via Crucis
The three crosses as the final scene of the via crucis is played.
a Centurion guards the entrance of the stage so no one gets in and everyone in the audience can see the play
Petare at night from El Morro
The Via Crucis seen from the low part of El Morro, at the top of one of the mountains of Petare.
The Basilica of Santa Teresa, house of the Nazarene after the San Pablo church was demolished years ago, remains full all day with parishioners that come and go from all over the country to see the wooden Christ that waits for the procession behind the altar
Milagros (right) 19 years old sells candles each year since she was 5. She can make 400 BsF (2$) for each box of candles.
Figures of the Nazarene are part of the merchandise displayed near the church along with the robes, crosses, rosaries, etc.
Vicente Escobar, 58. Comes with his family each year to sell purple robes, he consider this as a tradition. He says this year has been hard for the business because “people don’t have money anymore”
Junior, 13 (right) helps his mother with the selling; they come from Tachira, a state located on the western border of Venezuela.
Genesis Rivas, 6. She and her mother pay a promise each year for health. She was diagnosed with an intestinal disease during pregnancy; she has survived this long and has a great perspective on her future.
A peddler selling candles watches amazed as the Saint passes in front of him
This man comes each year in bare feet, with a croen of thorns and a cross to pay a promise he made in exchange for health
Part of the crowd at half way of the procession
The silver cross is carried by the kids in front of the Nazareno during the procession. As a background, the full moon shines in the sky.
The wooden cross leads the procession followed by the incense and a silver cross
Elders and kids are the most common visitors of the procession, this woman watches with deep emotion as the Nazareno passes in front of her
After 17 continuous ceremonies from 12 am to 5 pm every Wednesday from Holy Week the procession starts taking the Christ out the Church around the block and back.
Carrying the Nazareno is a great honor and it’s done every year by the same group of man
Gabriela Desire, 4. She was born dead, revived two seconds after the birth. It’s a miracle she is alive and for that, she and her mother come every year to pay the promise her mother did in exchange of her daughter’s life