September and October mark a special time of the year when colorful religious processions called Los Gremios (the guilds) begin on Sept. 14th at Mérida‘s Cathedral on the Main Plaza. On that day the Christ of the Blisters is removed from its chapel at 9:00 am and Mass is said at 11 am.

Then the Cathedral is the site of the religious pilgrimages from Sept. 27th to Oct. 17th. For tourists this is an opportunity to see the locals during a traditionally sacred time. For the locals it is a time to participate in their religious rituals.

Daily you will have the chance to get a glimpse as the various syndicates pay homage and give thanks. The gremios are the syndicates of the different professions in Mérida – taxi drivers, shoeshine boys, butchers, bakers, henequen workers, shoemakers, market stall vendors, carpenters, and more. Each group reserves a day in the Cathedral for their procession. On their first day they enter the cathedral at 12 noon, and they depart the following day after mass at 11.15 am (1 pm on Sundays).

You will see the people of these groups parade around the plaza to the music of a simple steel band, singing and shooting off fireworks. With their hand-embroidered banners and flags, many ladies are dressed in the typical, also hand-embroidered, shift type dress, the huipil (wee-PEEL), and the men in white pants and white guayaberas. Mass is held at 11 am. The entrance and exit of the groups is the part that is colorful and folkloric. Both these times are wonderful photo opportunities.

There is a special procession on Oct. 9 when the Christ of the Blisters is paraded around inside the Cathedral at 6 pm. The gremios end on Oct. 17th with a mass at 11:00 am and a procession around the Main Plaza, followed by the Christ of the Blisters being returned to its chapel in the Cathedral.

These celebrations date back to 1654 when the huge Christ figure image was brought to the Cathedral from the village of Ichmul after a terrible fire destroyed everything except for the wooden Christ figure that ended up with blistered wood. Hence the name, Christ of the Blisters.

September processions:
27-28 Construction workers
28-29 Small business owners
29-30 Devotees of Christ
30-1 Oct. Mirror, aluminum and glass workers

October processions:
1-2 Shoemakers
2-3 Seamstresses and embroiderers
3-4 Taxi drivers
4-5 Painters
5-6 Mechanics and ironworkers
6-7 Carpenters
7-8 Ladies
8-9 Business owners and hacienda owners
9-10 Shop owners
10-11 Shop owners and workers
11-12 Teachers and students
12-13 Bakers
13-14 Trainworkers
14-15 Trinket stall owners and employees
15-16 Professionals
16-17 Market stall workers

For more information call the Cathedral: (999) 928 6131.


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