Popayan is a quintessential religious city in Colombia and Holy Week processions have been a tradition for over 400 years.
Popayan, a community known for religion and boasting the largest number of churches per capita in Colombia, celebrates Holy Week in a big way with it’s traditional processions originating some 400 years ago.
The traditions are similar to the Spanish towns of Seville and Valladolid because Spanish conquistadors overtook and implanted their traditions and cultures from the Iberian peninsula.
According to chroniclers, the religious processions appeared in 1566, 30 years after the foundation of Popayan. There are three major processions during Holy Week, Palm Sunday Processions, Holy Tuesday Procession, Good Friday Procession.
- Palm Sunday Procession
started with a ceremony blessing the palms and afterwards the faithful followers wave white handkerchiefs or flags to proclaim the coming of Christ.
- Holy Tuesday Procession
A night procession where men carry images of Christ from St. Augustine church to the city center where they are welcomed by red robed acolytes who spread incense, chime bells and carry a crucifix.
- Good Friday Procession
The most symbolic as it represents the moments before crucifixion. Death is represented by a skeleton and men carrying tools are supposed to be representative of the men who nailed the body to the cross. The resurrected body is made of ivory and tortoise shell and portrays the resting body of Christ after his descent.
In addition to the processions, Popayan organizes religious music festivals that are held in the colonial churches and feature musicians from both Colombian and foreign countries.