Easter celebrations return after two-year pandemic hiatus; Big crowds expected in El Centro
Thousands of the Catholic faithful are expected to crowd El Centro streets and churches today through Sunday for Holy Week observances and celebrations. “Now that the fear of the pandemic is ending and as restrictions are lifted, we expect very large crowds to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” said Cuenca Archbishop Monsignor Marcos Pérez Caicedo. “The people have returned, the faith has not been lost.”
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Caicedo said record numbers lined up at historic district churches to pray, give confession and accept communion. At the Cathedral of La Inmaculada, the line stretched around the block.
Among Thursday’s highlights are the Chrism Mass in the morning and the visitation of the seven churches after dark. According to the diocese, all churches in the historic district will remain open for visits until midnight. Before the pandemic, in 2019, 20,000 participated in the Holy Week church visitation.
At 5 p.m., there will be the ceremonial feet-washing at the Old Cathedral followed by the Last Supper.
On Friday morning, there will the Good Friday parade through El Centro, beginning at the Old Cathedral, proceeding on Calles Mariscal Sucre, Manuel Vega and Simón Bolívar.
According to church historians, the Good Friday procession was Cuenca’s largest and most important parade in 1950s and 1960s, involving thousands of participants and onlookers. In January, Cristóbal Cobo restored a film recorded his grandfather of the 1956 procession and shared it on social media.
Natali Vásquez, director of the Archdiocese Tourism Office, reports that the agenda of Holy Week activities includes the exhibition “El Arrastre de Caudas” opening today in the Old Cathedral and continuing through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit will have displays of various Easter traditions and a history of the celebration in Cuenca. There is a $1 charge to enter the Old Cathedral, which is a city museum.
Schedule of Events (for more details, see the Municipality of Cuenca or the Archdiocese websites)
Thursday, April 14
9 a.m., Chrism Mass (New Cathedral)
5 p.m., Washing of feet (Old Cathedral)
7 p.m., Lord’s Supper (New Cathedral)
After 7 p.m., Visitation of the Churches
Friday, April 15
10 a.m., The 7 words (New Cathedral)
3 p.m., Adoration of the cross (Old Cathedral)
5 p.m., Passion of the Lord (New Cathedral)
7 p.m., Stations of the Cross (New Cathedral)
Saturday , April 16
10 a.m., Soledad de María celebration (New Cathedral)
7 p.m., Easter Vigil (Old Cathedral)
10 p.m., Easter Vigil (New Cathedral)
Sunday April 17
Eucharist 09:00-10:00-11:00-12:00-13:00-20:00, all churches
Easter Sunday Service (New Cathedral)