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El Gran Poder

La Fiesta del Señor Jesús del Gran Poder in early June


The merging of pre-Columbian religions and the Roman Catholic faith created a number of religious observations, including the Fiesta del Gran Poder celebrated primarily in La Paz, Bolivia. The event began in the late 1930's with a small number of dancers and is today a huge event.

The festival centers around the devotion to Christ as the second person in the Holy Trinity based on an anonymous painting of the Trinity dating from the early XVII century. The three entities were painted withIndian or mestizo features. Though the Catholic church had forbidden human representations of the Holy Trinity, a young novice named Genoveva Carrión took it with her when she entered the Monasterio de la Purísima Concepción. When the religious order downsized, the painting found its way into different lay hands, finally ending up with Plácido López who lived in the barrio Chijini in la Paz.

A small chapel was built to honor the Holy Trinity and then Bishop Augsto Scheifert direct two not-quite-expert artists to paint over the two side figures. They did so, but one, wanting to retouch the eyes, came back one night. When the remaining figure moved its head, the artist fled, but many favors or miracles were attributed to the Christ figure. Devotion grew and in 1939 the chapel was officially named Iglesia Parroquial del Gran Poder.

In the years since, the festival of El Gran Poder has grown into an international celebration. Parades and processions with the dark figure of the Christ (see photo), music and costumed dancers honoring cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Of these, La Morenada is the most famous.

Held annually at the beginning of June, the Fiesta del Gran Poder is La Paz's biggest street party. Copious amount of local beers and food are consumed. Visitors wanting a place to stay during the celebrations make advance reservations. Check flights from your area to La Paz and other locations in Bolivia. From this page, you can also browse hotels, rental cars, and special deals.

Enjoy the Fiesta del Señor Jesús del Gran Poder . Buen viaje!

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