Christ and his Passion in San Miguel

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

The last hours of Christ’s life are enacted during Holy Week in the Via Crucis (way of the cross) in various neighborhoods in San Miguel. In Atotonilco, the Via Crucis on Good Friday has become a tradition that begins the day before.

Atotonilco is located on the road to Dolores Hidalgo, where the Santuario (shrine) of Jesus the Nazarene is located. The shrine has a strong religious connection with San Miguel and was also appointed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 2008.

The reenactment starts on Holy Thursday, April 17, at 8pm with a mass. An actor portraying Jesus reenacts the moment when he washed the apostle’s feet and later a staging of the last supper is performed in an arcade in front of the church. After the supper, Christ goes to a public garden in the community to pray and there is arrested by Roman soldiers after Judas Iscariot’s betrayal. The reenactment ends at approximately 9:30pm.

On Good Friday, April 18, at noon (it is advisable to arrive earlier), in the forecourt of the Santuario the reenactment of the Passion continues with Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate. After Christ is condemned to die, he is taken to a different stage where he is flogged, with his clothes on, as many times as he can stand. A few minutes later, his clothes are taken off and the flogging continues. The bloodied Christ is taken down from the stage and publicly mocked as a “king” a crown of thorns is placed on his head and he is given a stick to be used as a scepter. At the end of this, Christ is made to take up the cross and the Via Crucis begins.

The march to Calvary is held in the main streets of the community. Thirteen of the 14 stations of the cross are marked by altars, and at every station Father Fernando Manríquez prays. The reenactment ends with a staged crucifixion of Christ, who is tied to a cross between the two thieves.  The actors stay on the crosses for half an hour.

The 14 stations of the cross

1. Christ is condemned to death
2. Christ carries the cross
3. The first fall
4. Meeting with his mother
5. Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross
6. Veronica wipes Christ’s face with a cloth
7. The second fall
8. Encounter with the women of Jerusalem
9. The third fall
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments
11. The crucifixion
12. Christ dies on the cross
13. His body is taken down from the cross
14. The body is laid in the tomb

Public transportation to Atotonilco leaves every hour from Calzada de la Luz. The fare is 10 pesos. Buses from Atotonilco to San Miguel leave every hour from a block away from the Santuario.

Visitors also can take a Flecha Amarilla bus from the bus station for 10 pesos. They must get off the bus at El Cortijo, cross the road and walk for about 10 minutes to get to the church. A cab does not charge more than 100 pesos from the historic center to Atotonilco, but we advise agreeing on the price with the driver beforehand.


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