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Despite Crisis Venezuelans Celebrate ...
Caracas
By Mariana Vincenti
07 Apr 2015

Caracas is touched by faith and devotion to a leader that requires no election bar love and unity

As a part of the Christian celebrations that take place in Venezuela during Holy Week, there’s one in Caracas called “El Nazareno de San Pablo” (The Nazarene of Saint Paul), the most popular of the processions made in honor of the image of Christ bearing the cross. The celebration took place in downtown Caracas on 1 April 2015 and attracted thousands of people.

Whatever the political storms to hit Venezuela since 1998, this procession has consistently drawn some of the country’s largest numbers of participants. In spite of the socio-economic crisis now plaguing Venezuelans, both their devotion to this tradition and their religious identity in general remain strong. Whatever the effects of Chavismo, these traditions have overcome the many other transformations their lives have undergone in this era.


This festival’s popularity dates to an old legend that a miracle saved thousands of people from a terrible disease. As the plague carried off thousands of lives, Holy Week arrived, and with it, several processions of different “Nazarenos” carrying the cross through various cities around the country. In the church of San Pablo in downtown Caracas, a wooden Christ was taken to the streets as it did each year. Suddenly, he got tangled in a lemon tree. When the lemons fell, people started eating them, and those who were sick began to heal. Word quickly spread, and more people came to eat the lemons from the miraculous lemon tree. Since then, thousands of people all over the country come to the procession that occurs every Wednesday of Holy Week. Most of the parishioners go dressed in purple, carrying crosses and a crown of thornsSome choose to express their devotion by walking barefoot down the path as an offer or payment for a promise.

Downtown Caracas celebrates in many ways and is flooded with colors portraying the different aspects of Venezuelans’ religious idiosyncrasy. Peddlers, among others, take advantage of the festivity to do a bustling business selling candles, incense, purple robes and other religious items. Everyone participates in a different way, from those who join the procession to kids and elders selling merchandise used by the parishioners involved in the ceremony.

The experience embraces a symphony of colors, scents, and sounds. The melody of a church organ meets the crying of the youngsters; the murmur of the prayers meets the discourse of the priest; purple robes, wooden crosses and yellow palm leafs dance to the scent of orchids and incense. From early morning to late at night, the “normal routine” of the booming capital pauses before these outpourings of Christian faith and devotion. Indeed, Caracas is a city of multiple faces. Amidst their convoluted lives, Caraqueños (people from Caracas) still seek the love and unity that these days are harder to come by. Indeed, the Wednesday of the Holy Week is hardly the only time that Caraqueños take to the streets from dawn ‘til dusk.  

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 01
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

People from the community of Petare, one of Latin America's largest slums, take part in the Via Crucis organized by the parishioners of the "El Nazareno" sector in one of Caracas' poorest districts.

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 02
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

A participant in the Via Crucis, a local kid from the community, plays the role of the centurion for the audience.

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 03
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

Two young women play Mary and Magdalena, watching onward as Jesus is tortured.

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 04
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

Though time it's Christ who's lying on the streets of Petare, most days it's someone else - the daily victims of local crime.

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 05
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

At the scene of Jesus' torture, a priest is stained by representations of his blood.

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 06
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

Mary at the stage cleaning the scene of the torture of Jesus

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 08
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

The scene of the Via Crucis when Jesus gets a crown of thorns

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 09
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

Petare's Via Crucis is as realistic as possible, without really harming the actors looks stunishing and real

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 10
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

The people of Petare as they walk from the Nazareno sector to El Morro, where the Via Crucis ends

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 11
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

Some People choose their roofs to have a better view of the Via Crucis without having to struggle for a place among the people

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 12
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

Over the streets between the Nazareno sector and El Morro goes the Via Crucis having Petare as a stage.

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 13
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

The representation is so cruel that this little girl started to cry

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 14
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

Petare, the biggest slum in Latin America covers the east side of Caracas

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 15
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

The people of the comunity at the final point of the Via Crucis.

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 16
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

One of the two thievs who were crucified with Jesus about to play the final scene

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 17
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

The actors of the centurions also guard the people so they don't get in the stage

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 18
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

one of the two thievs who were crucified with Jesus after he's mounted in his cross

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 19
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

The other actors help secure the other thief to his cross

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 20
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

Jesus as he plays the final scene of the Via Crucis

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 22
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

The three crosses as the final scene of the via crucis is played.

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 23
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

a Centurion guards the entrance of the stage so no one gets in and everyone in the audience can see the play

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EASTER IN THE FAVELA 25
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
02 Apr 2015

The Via Crucis seen from the low part of El Morro, at the top of one of the mountains of Petare.

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Caracas procession 02
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

The Basilica of Santa Teresa, house of the Nazarene after the San Pablo church was demolished years ago, remains full all day with parishioners that come and go from all over the country to see the wooden Christ that waits for the procession behind the altar

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Caracas procession 03
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Milagros (right) 19 years old sells candles each year since she was 5. She can make 400 BsF (2$) for each box of candles.

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Caracas procession 04
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Figures of the Nazarene are part of the merchandise displayed near the church along with the robes, crosses, rosaries, etc.

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Caracas procession 05
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Vicente Escobar, 58. Comes with his family each year to sell purple robes, he consider this as a tradition. He says this year has been hard for the business because “people don’t have money anymore”

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Caracas procession 06
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Junior, 13 (right) helps his mother with the selling; they come from Tachira, a state located on the western border of Venezuela.

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Caracas procession 07
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Genesis Rivas, 6. She and her mother pay a promise each year for health. She was diagnosed with an intestinal disease during pregnancy; she has survived this long and has a great perspective on her future.

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Caracas procession 08
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

A peddler selling candles watches amazed as the Saint passes in front of him

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Caracas procession 09
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

This man comes each year in bare feet, with a croen of thorns and a cross to pay a promise he made in exchange for health

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Caracas procession 11
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

The silver cross is carried by the kids in front of the Nazareno during the procession. As a background, the full moon shines in the sky.

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Caracas procession 12
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

The wooden cross leads the procession followed by the incense and a silver cross

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Caracas procession 13
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Elders and kids are the most common visitors of the procession, this woman watches with deep emotion as the Nazareno passes in front of her

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Caracas procession 14
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

After 17 continuous ceremonies from 12 am to 5 pm every Wednesday from Holy Week the procession starts taking the Christ out the Church around the block and back.

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Caracas procession 15
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Carrying the Nazareno is a great honor and it’s done every year by the same group of man

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Caracas Procession 16
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Gabriela Desire, 4. She was born dead, revived two seconds after the birth. It’s a miracle she is alive and for that, she and her mother come every year to pay the promise her mother did in exchange of her daughter’s life