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200 Years of Faith and Devotion Come Again to Town

By Jesús Aguado

A flagellated Christ, resting his arms on a column, weighing 40 kilos and measuring 180 centimeters high, is the focus of an annual pilgrimage from the Shrine of Jesus the Nazarene of Atotonilco to our city in order to take part in Holy Week rituals. Each year, the Christ travels 12 kilometers, carried by devotees on foot, to alleviate the pain and illness of those who believe in him, of those who still have faith and wait for a miracle.

This year, the Lord of the Column (Señor de la Columna)—a Christ figure made of polychrome wood and bearing a scar of Judas’ kiss on his cheek—will come back to San Miguel de Allende, along with the Virgin of Sorrows and with St John, on Sunday, March 18.

Chronicles of A Plague

The chronicles of Cornelio Espinosa state that in the time of the plague, people walking on the street would faint and suddenly be dead.

The plague, if it existed, it may have occurred in 1812, because in that year, according to member of the Brotherhood of Our Lord of the Column Josué Patlán, the Jesus Nazarene of Atotonilco was brought to town from Atotonilco that year in order to ask him to get rid of the plague, a miracle, they said. That information is not documented, but oral history states that the statue was brought here again in 1848.

According to Patlán, El Señor de la Columna came for the first time to San Miguel in 1823, by request of wealthy Cayetano Vargas, who was sick and needed a miracle. The Christ was brought in a platform, and Vargas recovered. Since then, the sculpture has been brought annually. Currently, those in charge of organizing this event, which gathers devotees from across the country, are forming a committee to prepare the 200th anniversary of this pilgrimage.


Josué Patlán is one of the youngest members of the Brotherhood of the Lord of the Column—canonically formed in 2002 and registered at the diocese of Celaya. He told Atención that the brotherhood is made up of devotees that worship the sacred blood of the Christ and that they are in charge of cleaning the sculptures, dressing them up, taking them down from their altars, and caring for the icons during the eight hours that they travel here, walking over 12 kilometers of road towards the San Juan de Dios church.

According to Patlán, the Brotherhood had a meeting last June, and in that meeting they elected the new members of the groups responsible for organizing the transport of the Lord of the Column, of St John, the Virgin of Sorrows, the Roman Army, lanterns, and flowers. There is even someone in charge of sound.

The pilgrimage is always held the Sunday before Friday of Sorrows, and this year it will happen on Sunday, March 18. Patlán said that on the Thursday, before March 18, those in charge of the saints attend to the Santuario de Atotonilco to clean the images and change their clothing—either new or clothing that people have donated for the icons over the years.

On Saturday, March 17, the members of the brotherhood will gather at San Juan de Dios Church at 6:30pm. A mass will take place, and after that, the Brotherhood will go to Atotonilco. Once there, they will work to take down the icons down their altars and prepare them for the pilgrimage.

At around 9pm, the images are placed on platforms and secured with screws. Then they are covered with dozens of 50 x 50cm handkerchiefs made of linen and silk. Finally, two more covers are placed over the kerchiefs in order to protect the centennial sculptures from the weather.

Annually, people donate the silk and linen fabrics. If donors wish, one of those handkerchiefs, the one worn out, is theirs after the end of the procession. (Those interested in donating handkerchiefs for the icons should take their fabrics to Cinco de Mayo 16, colonia Allende.)

The Route

The procession, that in the past had a different route—though Calzada de la Aurora—leaves at 12am from the esplanade of the Atotonilco atrium. The pilgrimage is headed by men portraying Roman soldiers, followed by lanterns, and finally the three icons.

The devotees carry the heavy icons on platforms along the route in shifts, taking six breaks. The first stop is at Cortija. They then make stops at Santa Margarita, Cruz del Perdón, colonia Miguel Hidalgo, avenida Independencia—where the sculptures are uncovered—and finally Plaza Garibaldi. The procession then arrives at San Juan de Dios Church, with a mass at 8am.

The icons remain at the church until Wednesday, April 4, and during that time they are part of several processions.



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