Corpus Christi: Cusco, Peru

What is Corpus Christi? The Corpus Christi Festival in Peru is a religious celebration of the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist. In Cusco, there are certain traditions that revolve around this time of year, including various days of processions that bring together Cusqueños from all around the area. It’s a sight to see with the streets of Cusco decorated in a wide variety of colors to welcome the processions of the different saints and virgins.

Although the Corpus Christi celebration in Peru is recognized across the country, the biggest festivities happen in Cusco. There are 15 different saints and virgins involved, each housed in their own respective churches. Each saint or virgin leaves its home church and has its own music- and dance-filled procession toward the main Cusco Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. In some cases, the processions need to travel as far as 10 kilometers! All of the saints and virgins meet at the San Pedro Church. Then, there’s a final procession of all the saints and virgins together from the San Pedro Church to the Cusco Cathedral.

Corpus Christi in Cusco, Peru is especially unique because it’s said that the Spanish incorporated festivities from the Inca times that were already happening at the time of their conquest. These were local celebrations dedicated to their own Inca gods and goddesses (the most important of which is the Sun God, Inti; see “What Is Inti Raymi?“), and these celebrations involved parading mummies in processions. As part of the process of evangelization, the Spanish replaced the mummies with the saints and virgins of their Catholic religion.

Planning a visit to see Corpus Christi in Peru? Send us a message to book tours around that time.


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