Holy Thursday is a day of great importance among Christians in Cuenca. It is a day of popular devotion, in which men, women and children of faith and devotion make a pilgrimage to visit seven churches in Cuenca. The route has a special significance, as each church symbolizes a specific part of Jesus’ last days on earth. While there are 16 churches in the el centro area, only seven need to be visited to observe this unique Cuencano tradition.
The first church of the route represents the way of Jesus from the Upper Room, where he celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples, to the garden of Gethsemane where he went to pray before being arrested.
The second church of the route symbolizes the passage from the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested, to the house of Annas where he was interrogated and where one of the onlookers, a soldier, struck Jesus with his hand. This action began the cycle of violence that would end with Jesus’ death.
The third church’s prayer focuses on Jesus’ time in the house of Caiaphas where the men that held Jesus mocked him and beat him. They also blindfolded him and some even smote him with the palms of their hands while the Chief Priests bore false testimony against him.
His first appearance before Pontius Pilate, the roman governor of the region, is the center of reflection in the fourth church. It was before Pontius Pilate that Jesus was accused by the Jews who spoke false testimony against him.
The fifth church represents Jesus in his appearance before King Herod, where Herod and his soldiers mock Jesus, put a robe on him, as the King of the Jews, and sent him back to Pilate.
The second appearance before Pilate is the focused meditation of the sixth church. On this occasion Jesus is crowned with thorns and is condemned to death.
The seventh church represents the passage from the House of Pilate to Mount Calvary carrying the cross to the slopes and to his death on the cross. Remembering also his passage to the grave, where he was resurrected on the third day.
It is not necessary to walk to far to complete the tour, since in the historic centre of Cuenca the faithful can walk through the streets from one church to another easily, due to their close proximity to one another.
Below you will find a list of the churches that you will find in the beautiful “el cento” part of the city of Cuenca. The beauty and magnificent architecture of these churches, temples, and cathedrals are inviting to behold.
- La Iglesia del Corazón de Jesús
- San Sebastián
- El Cenáculo
- El Carmen de la Asunción
- La Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción
- Santo Domingo
- San Francisco
- Las Conceptas
- La Merced de los Padres Oblatos
- San Alfonso
- La Merced de El Vecino
- María Auxiliadora
- Cristo Rey de los Ancianos
- Cristo Rey de Cullca
- Todos Santos
- San Blas
It was nice to learn about the tour, however, is there a specific route and map for the tour?
As far as I understood, there is no route or map. You choose 7 churches among the ones listed, in any order, and you do your own tour. For a believer, it doesn’t matter which churches are visited. What’s important is to visit 7 of them, assigning the respective meaning to each, as described above.