Legend of The Lord of the Tremors
In the 17th century, the king of Spain heard reports that indigenous peoples were still worshipping their Incan Sun god Inti. (Inti means ´sun´ in Quechua.) Because of this, he sent a magnificent statue of Christ on the cross to Cusco in order to encourage proper Christian worship. The figure of Christ was specifically created with dark skin so that indigenous people would more easily identify with him and might accept Christianity.
In 1650, a terrible earthquake rocked the city of Cusco. The earthquake set in precisely at the moment when the new Christ statue was being carried out into public for the first time. When the tremors surprisingly stopped, sparing the population from the expected destruction, the black Christ was believed to have saved the city. After this miracle, the statue earned the name Señor de los Temblores. Then, in 1720, the statue was accredited with relieving a plague from Cusco and became the patron saint of Cusco. With this honor, the Black Jesus replaced the former Patrón Santiago, who had been named the patron saint of Cusco by the Spanish in 1646.
Celebration of the Lord of the Tremors today
Today, the masses celebrate the Señor de los Temblores by parading the statue through the streets of Cusco every Monday before Easter, known as Holy Monday or Lunes Santo. The Cusco Cathedral, where the cross is kept, is built on the foundations of the ancient temple dedicated to the pagan god Apulla Tikse Wiracocha.
The image of the Lord of Earthquakes is carried in a procession through the streets of the city, just as the Incas used to parade the mummies of their chieftains, high priests and supreme rulers. In the end, the primary part of the celebration involves the ñucchu flower (salvia esplendes), used as an offering to the ancient gods Kon and Wiracocha.
The same flower is used today to weave a crown for the Lord of the Earthquakes. This crimson colored flower, whose petals are scattered over the venerated image by believers, symbolizes the blood of Christ.
It is said that the weight of the massive platform that holds Señor de los Temblores is the weight of the carriers' sins. Furthermore, their faces while carrying the heavy Christ are supposed to predict how the upcoming year will transpire. The Señor de Temblores celebration was declared an official cultural patrimony of Peru in 2007.