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Thursday, 11 June 2009

Corpus in Mazo - Photos of this year

Corpus Christi (the body of Christ) is a big festival in Mazo. They decorate the streets with spectacular archways and carpets covered with flowers, seeds and leaves.

People collect the materials and work on intensively the pieces a couple of weeks in advance, but the archways are erected a Wednesday night. But they had a problem with the crane, and they were still putting up the last of them when I arrived on Thursday morning.

The largest archway is always in the square near the top of the street, and I found it still laid out on trestles, waiting for assembly. This meant that I could get close-up shots of things which would later be ten metres (33ft) up in the air.

The carpets beneath the archways are made using things rather like wrought iron gates, as stencils. They lay the "gate" down on the sand, fill the sections with petals or whatever, squirt with water-with-a-bit-of-glue-in-it, and lift the gate up again.

Each archway includes a small altar. I've been photographing them for years without really wondering why they were there.

This year I finally got to seed the procession, and it became clear. The fiesta is in honour of the body of Christ.

During a normal Catholic mass, this is put into a special vessel called a monstrance.
In this procession, the priest walks on the flower carpets carrying the monstrance: everybody else walks along the sides. As the priest reaches each archway, he places the monstrance on the little altar, kneels, and wafts incense towards it.

The main feast day is ten weeks after Maundy Thursday, so this year it was on the 11th of June. If you're impressed enough to book a holiday to see next year's Corpus Christi, it'll be on June 3rd.

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