Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I promised more to come on the Fiestas Patronales in Suchitoto, and here it is.
With the Virgin of Guadalupe celebrated on Satuday, and Santa Lucia, Suchitoto's patron saint, honored on Sunday, it was non-stop fiesta. The photos show the float for Our Lady of Guadalupe, a little girl dressed up for Guadalupe day in the church, the plaza crammed full of people on Saturday night, pilgrims going up the steps behind the altar to visit Santa Lucia on Sunday morning, and the crowd in a side aisle of the church on Sunday.

For a North American used to the careful separation of church and state it was fascinating to see the complete blend of church and city in these celebrations. The processions - Saturday afternoon before Mass with the Virgin of Guadalupe and Saturday evening after Mass with Santa Lucia - blended seamlessly into the fireworks, food and partying in the central plaza. I imagine those who belong to the evangelical churches participate selectively, enjoying the fiesta but not joining the processions or Masses, but I don't really know how this big celebration looks to them.

To me, it looked wonderful! I can't imagine a town in my country having this much concentrated fun. On Saturday night, after Mass and the Santa Lucia procession, everyone gathered in the plaza, known here as the parque central, and had a party: food, music from small mariachi groups and music blasting from the djs, gambling games and rides and finally fireworks, a grand explosion that went on and on and on, and included toros, a bull costume with fireworks attached, and a grand municipal billboard/fireworks platform that said "Municipal development is the responsibility of everyone." In Spanish, of course.

The next day, everyone gathered for Santa Lucia's Mass and this turns out to be the day when you line up to visit the saint, who can be approached by way of very steep stairs behind the altar. Lucy is the saint for vision problems - she was a 3rd century martyr whose eyes were said to have been gouged out before she was martyred, and she is usually shown - as she is in our church - presenting her eyes on a plate. Her name, of course, means "light," another reason why she's the patron of vision.

The Mass was celebrated by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Pezzuto, with four priests and a deacon assisting, and the big church was so tightly packed that it didn't seem possible that everyone could keep breathing. Practical Peggy saved me a seat up by the sacristy door, so if an earthquake came we'd have an escape route. Happily, there was no earthquake, just a glorious end to a most festive week.

No comments:

Post a Comment