Cusco is always a fun city full of surprises, but especially during the month of June there is never a dull moment. Roads in the Plaza de Armas are closed off as parades with bands, dancers, and colorful costumes decoraCusco is always a fun city full of surprises, but especially during the month of June there is never a dull moment. Roads in the Plaza de Armas are closed off as parades with bands, dancers, and colorful costumes decorate the cobblestone streets. One of the largest and first celebrations in the old capital of the Inca Empire itself is Corpus Christi, which kicks off the “Fiestas de Cusco”. Sixty days after Easter, fifteen saints and virgins from different districts of Cusco all come to the main Cathedral to greet the body of Christ. This year it will start around 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 19th.
The night before is a vigil with the main dish being “chiriuchu”. This is typical Peruvian cold dish that contains guinea pig, chicken, sausages, fish eggs, seaweed, toasted corn, and cheese. The next day the saints and virgins make their appearance, including: San Antonio, San Jerónimo, San Cristóbal, San Sebastian, Santa Bárbara, Santa Ana, Santiago Apóstol, San Blas, San Pedro, San José, Virgen de La Natividad, Virgen de los Remedios, Virgen Purificada, Virgen de Belén, and Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción. These saints enter into the Cathedral and receive homage. Later important authorities from different communities in Cusco meet in the main square to discuss current issues.
Seven days after this event, on the eighth day, the saints and virgins begin their journey back to their designated spots, saying goodbye to the people until the next year. During the return back, the people honor them with songs and prayers.
This Catholic tradition was originally an Andean custom. Before the Spanish came, the Incas took the mummies of the children of the Sun out around the city in procession. Whenever the missionaries came they decided to turn the pagan festival into a Christian one by replacing the mummies with the saints and virgins. Corpus Christi is celebrated all over the world, but Cusco is known for its outstanding and unique festival. Peruvian locals along with national and international tourists come to see what makes this beautiful procession so unique and special.