The ceremony of the "Dragging of Cauda", of historical tradition but that nowadays is only celebrated in Quito, met this Wednesday to hundreds of faithful Catholics in the Metropolitan Cathedral.
The ceremony, which consists of a funerary ritual that evokes the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, was the last one officiated by the outgoing primate of Ecuador, Monsignor Fausto Travez, who will soon be replaced by the Guayaquil priest Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus.
From early in the morning, the parishioners gathered before the Metropolitan Cathedral, in the old town, for the ceremony, which they entered with their hands in a prayer position.
At midday the bells began to ring and the smell of palo santo and incense flooded the temple, while Archbishop Travez entered ceremoniously among the songs of religious and parishioners.
"This tradition, which is already done only in Quito, is an expression of what Christianity means for all Ecuadorians," the archbishop recalled in his sermon.
And it is a ceremony that replicates the "Review" that was made in the Cathedral of the Spanish city Seville.
The Metropolitan Cathedral inherited it 474 years ago, according to the archbishop, and only the order of the Canons continues to do so.
The Drag of Caudas is inspired by a rite that was done at the funerals of the Roman generals.
The surviving leader of the legion beat the banner over the coffin of the deceased general to capture his spirit and courage, and then the banner was carried over the troop to convey the values of the deceased general.
In this case, the general would be Jesus, honored by his Church in the earthly world after his sacrifice on the cross.
In the ceremony, the canons wear a black robe that represents humanity blackened or "stained" by sin.
The funeral procession began with the Cabildo de Canónigos walking through the cathedral, to the sound of the funeral marches and in which eight clergymen chosen for the ceremony, dressed in black and wore a hood from which the "cauda" flowed, a Long black cape that crawls on the floor of the church.
Behind them, an archbishop dressed in a red cauda, symbol of the blood of Christ shed on the cross and that frees humanity from sin.
In his hands, the highest ecclesial representative carried the "Lignum Crucis", a relic containing remains of the true cross of Jesus Christ.
"It's super-exciting, a mixture of culture and our history," Consuelo Torres, a Quito native who attended this curious ceremony for the first time, told Efe.
"God and faith move mountains and this is part of our culture and our religion, which is why these rituals make us feel closer to God," he said.
While hundreds of people witnessed the ritual inside the cathedral, outside, in the Plaza de Independencia, hundreds of others could see it through a giant screen specially enabled.
Patricio Catota, one of the privileged who entered the cathedral, also for the first time, told Efe that he has "a lot of respect and consideration for the ceremony."
"Today I had the opportunity to come for the first time to this very special ceremony that has great significance for the Catholic Church," he said.
Following the tradition, the ceremony ended with the archbishop beating a black flag with a red cross in the center, first on the altar, then on the canons prostrate on the floor and, finally, on the parishioners present, to convey the bravery of the general fallen, in this case Jesus Christ.