Thousands Trek For Seven Hours In Peru To Attend Age-Old Andean Ceremony

Every year, on the eve of September 14, thousands of Peruvian devotees trek for seven hours up to the foot of Pachatusan mountain, near the Andean city of Cusco, to pay homage to the Lord of Huanca — an image of Jesus Christ, scourged and bleeding, that tradition says was painted in a cave 339 years ago.

According to the story, in the late 17th century Christ appeared to a native who worked in the mines of the area and was hiding inside a cave, in the area known as Huanca, to escape the punishment of a Spanish master. Then, guided by the description of the native, an artist painted on a rock cavern hurt the image of Christ with whips.

Worship to Lord of Huanca was officially recognized by the Catholic Church in 1779. Since then it has attracts thousands of people carrying candles and flowers to the shrine, which is also accessible by road by car or other vehicles. Once on the site, the devotees take part in a religious ceremony and a procession of effigies of Lord of Huanca and Our Lady of Sorrows.

The Apu (Sacred Mountain) Pachatusan is one of the guardian mountains of the city of Cusco, situated to the east. Its partner mountain is the Apu Huancaure, known to be one of the first Inca settlements established when they arrived in the Cusco Valley.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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