The cross that moves Xochitepec: residents keep alive a tradition that is more than 100 years old – El Sol de México

For 25 years Antonio Fuentes has been part of the 70 bearers of the cross in the town of Santa Cruz Xochitepec, in Xochimilco, almost 20 kilometers from the center of Mexico City.

As for more than a century, every May 2nd, dozens of men who have a mission and want to ask for the health of a loved one or even for rain and thus for their flowers and vegetables, offer to carry this cross made made of wood and covered with metal that measures around six meters high and weighs almost two tons.

“I have many orders, but what I can say is that this year I am responsible for the health of my family,” says Antonio.

Carrying the cross is not something simple, because the first step is having the will to climb two and a half kilometers of Cerro de Las Flores. The road is steep, with gravel and loose dirt that makes walking difficult. It takes each person between 40 minutes to an hour and a quarter to reach the top.

Due to the difficulty of the road, most of the attendees are the youngest residents or those who are considered to be the most strong in Xochitepec.

“If this were easy, everyone would lie about their faith. Only those who have confidence that God helps reach the top,” says Mario, a resident and devotee for more than 30 years.

Juan Tomás has some health problems and has been climbing the hill for nine years to ask for his well-being.

“I entrust myself to God, I pray for my health, for my family and the union, and I go up. It is an act of faith and gratitude because everything goes its way,” says Juan.

Every year, a man from Xochitepec is chosen by the Santa Cruz chapel to be named mayordomo and be in charge of choosing his porters. This year it was Jesús Perea’s turn, who waited several years to be named. The church said it already has volunteers until 2028.

“Although it suits you, you wait two years, but the line of those who want to be a butler and organize the lowering of the cross is long,” says Antonio Fuentes.

The butler chooses his companions, including friends and family, but also volunteers who, like Antonio and his friend José Gutiérrez, come to ask for an opportunity.

“Your nerves eat away at you, but you go with faith and will. The gravel is loose, every year my colleagues support us with relays. Falls are sometimes painful, but for us it is part of faith because the cross should not touch the ground,” says Ernesto, who this year asks for the union of his family.

At 6:00 p.m., when hundreds of residents are already at the top of the hill, after more than 3,300 steps uphill, the mañanitas of a mariachi sound and they fill the crucifix with 16-meter-long ribbons, each cloth It is a wish or a command.

“My family put up a path, because that’s what the ribbons are called, almost 30 years ago. We pray for my grandfather’s health that he had surgery. For each family, each trail is something very important,” explained Iris, who has lived in this place since the time of her great-grandparents.

While this happens, women, men and children rest and take a breath, in addition to seeing the city and its buildings located dozens of kilometers away.

“It doesn’t seem like we are also a city, everything seems far away,” says Laura, a resident.

An hour later the journey back to the church begins. 70 men gather their strength and among the loose stones and the steep descent, they begin the path that lasts more than two hours.

Each bearer of the cross must wear a sash, it is necessary and mandatory, because the weight is too much, so much so that, over the years, each volunteer develops a hump.

“He becomes silent because of the weight. “We all have a hump and it is what differentiates us from everyone,” says Ernesto.

At 9:00 p.m. the cross arrives at the town chapel, along with two other monumental crucifixes, beginning the celebrations of May 3, Day of the Holy Cross.

The residents rest after almost four hours of effort, fire rockets, drink and eat something to regain strength.

The festivities last three days. On May 6, the mayordomo and his bearers tour the entire town with the crosses and at 6:00 p.m. they return it to the top of the hill so that from above, it can take care of and watch over all of Xochitepec, as it has done since the last century.

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