izamal-cristo-sitilpechIn a Catholic world in the process of consolidation, searching for means of expression, religious images are key. The evangelist mission of the Franciscans in our land – from their arrival in the XVI century – found an efficient and seductive weapon in those images.

These thoughts are found in the volume “Izamal Festivo”, by Doctors in Anthropology Francisco J. Fernández Repetto and Genny M. Negroe Sierra. From these comments, we can infer the role played by a legend such as the Christ of Sitilpech.

This book tells of the arrival to Izamal of two Indigenous brothers, who roamed the streets offering their services for any kind of humble work available: cleaning, weeding gardens and streetfronts, feeding animals. As time passed, the locals got used to their presence, and they became loved by the people for their willingness to serve.

This brought them to the notice of the Franciscan friars, who appealed to them to take on the work necessary on the convent walls, which they carried out as if they were working directly for the Virgin of Izamal.

The years went by, and the people of Izamal noticed periods of absence of the brothers. It was said that the older one, the taller of the two, had adopted the village of Sitilpech for his residence, and the younger, Citilcum, both very close to Izamal.

When they were asked about their simultaneous departures from Izamal and why they chose different places to dwell, they answered that “they always went where they were needed most”.

On one occasion, when the older brother heard the news of the transfer of the Izamal Virgin to the city of Mérida, so that her intercession would remedy plagues and epidemics, he went to Izamal and did not return to Sitilpech until the Virgin was returned.

A few days later, the Sitilpech brother announced that he was leaving the town, and he gave specific and special indications which the Sitilpech people did not understand.

When the date which he had indicated arrived, everyone gathered at the entrance to his house to learn what was happening. They received quite a surprise when the door of the hut was opened, for in place of the older brother they found an image of the crucified Christ. The Sitilpech brother had foreseen that the Virgin was going to be taken to Mérida again, due to circumstances similar to those mentioned above.

From that day until this – with the presence of the image of the Lady of Izamal – every October 18, the crucified Christ is taken to the sanctuary of the Virgin, followed by nine days of public worship, celebrated by the people of Izamal in honor of the Indigenous Christ.

Editorial by Yurina Fernández Noa

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