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The festival of Corpus Christi has been celebrated all over Peru since colonial times, but reaches a high point in Cusco. Fifteen saints and virgins from various districts are borne in a procession to the Cathedral where they "greet" the body of Christ embodied in the Sacred Host, kept in a fabulous gold goblet weighing 26 kilos and standing 1.2 meters high.
Sixty days after Easter Sunday, the members of each nearby church bear their patron saint in a procession to the chimes of the Maria Angola, Peru's largest church bell, forged in a copper-gold alloy in the sixteenth century by local artisan Diego Arias de Cerda.
At night everyone gathers together, for an overnight vigil, where typical dishes such as chiriuchu (spicy guinea pig), beer, chicha and cornbread are served.
At dawn the procession sets off around the main square, bearing the images of five virgins clad in richly embroidered tunics, plus the images of four saints: Sebastian, Blas, Joseph and the Apostle Santiago (Saint James) mounted on a beautiful white horse. Then the saints enter the Cathedral to receive homage, time after which representatives and authorities from various communities of Cusco meet in the main square to discuss local affairs.
Finally, the delegations return to the churches amidst hymns and prayers.
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