The litter of the Lord of Miracles are the bases that support the venerated image. Since 1687 they have been part of the traditional procession. Over the centuries it has been renovated and has acquired incalculable historical, artistic and religious value
The first walk of the Lord of Miracles dates from 1687. At that time only eight people were needed to carry the wooden structure where the image was surrounded by a silver arch. Following the War with Chile, this arch was replaced by a wooden one.
Regarding the Centennial of the Independence of Peru, in 1921, it was decided to change the wooden litters for silver ones. Its inauguration only took place on October 15, 1922.
The andas in detail
The new litters were designed by the sculptor and painter Leonardo Jáuregui. These are used to this day. Its base is made of wood with four legs and the four poles in Guayaquil oak.
Its main sculptural motif is the angels – luminaries that occupy the corners. They were designed by the Dominican Fray Rosario Zárate. The goldsmith work was carried out by Manuel T. Mercado and the master silversmiths Manuel and Otoniel Alva, Manuel Benalcázar, Vicente Alcántara, Emilio Lizárraga and Hipólito Gálvez.
About 450 kilos of fine silver were used from donations and the casting of many votive offerings or ‘miracles’. The total weight of these litters oscillated around 990 kilos. It took 32 carrying brothers to lift it.
In 1962 some reforms were made such as the silver lining of the upper part of the wooden base. Over the years, the weight of the litters increased as they were incorporated: reflectors, batteries, new poles and gold and silver ornaments with fine gemstones that were dedicated to him by his faithful.
The litters have never been heavy when armed; but in parts giving an approximate total of 1,200 kilos. If the weight were evenly distributed, each loader would carry 35 to 37 kilos on their shoulders. To move it, 34 carrying brothers are needed.
Preparing the litter
The Nazarene Mothers are in charge of ‘dressing’ the images with the offerings donated by the faithful. Two weeks before the first departure of the image from the monastery of the Nazarenas to the sanctuary, the Patrones de Andas begin to assemble them. About six people are in charge of this work and are appointed by the Nazarene Carmelite Discalced Mothers.
The process begins with the cleaning of the silver pieces and then with their fixation. Thus, the litters are ready for the sacred images of the Lord of Miracles and the Virgin of the Cloud to be placed in the upper part, on the upper platform.
As silver canvases and frames weigh more than 200 kilos, an electronic device is used to lift them safely.
The first 34 chargers who will raise the litters are chosen by the Nazarene Mothers from among the benefactors and friends of the monastery.
Before starting the procession, the Archbishop of Lima raises a prayer and incenses the sacred images. At noon the patron of andas hits the chrome steel bell that is in the middle of the central poles with a hammer.
This sign tells the loaders to stand under the poles. When a second blow is heard, everyone stands up raising the litter. When the doors of the monastery open, the band of musicians performs the “March of flags”. Thus begins the procession.
In the first processions there was no group of porters and the litters were carried by the residents of Pachacamilla and the faithful.
On November 2, 1878, the Brotherhood of Chargers and Incense Burners of the Lord of Miracles was formed, made up of men and women. It would be in 1920 when it acquired legal personality and in 1955 it had ecclesiastical recognition.
Currently, the Brotherhood of the Lord of Miracles of Nazarenas is made up of about 4,700 members between porters, incense burners, singers and honoraria. There are twenty gangs of carrying brothers, incense sisters and singers.
The procession is conducted under the responsibility of the ‘General Steward’ who determines how the tributes are carried out and verifies the times.
The porters, who are the majority of members, make up the gangs that are made up of a maximum of 200 brothers each. The crews are led by a foreman.
The team of loaders are named according to their location: the corner posts, which are located on the end rods, and the templators, which are placed on the two central rods. There are 10 assistants and they are located on each side of the litter. The foreman stands in front and hits the bell with the hammer to indicate when to raise or lower them.
To raise the litter, the bell is rung twice. After the first blow, the voice “armen” is given and the porters place their shoulders under the poles to raise them at the second blow of the hammer. Before lowering the litter, the voice “firm” is given, which serves to stop the march. Then we wait for the hammer touch to make the descent.
The groups of incense and singers have their respective teams. They take turns accompanying the procession. The incense sticks who walk in front of the singers are in charge of perfuming the path of the Lord. While the singers sing melodies of praise and pleas for forgiveness.
TEXTS / Lilia Córdova Camp SOURCES / The Trade Archive BOOK / “The Lord of Miracles: history, devotion and identity”
DESIGN / Marcelo Hidalgo placeholder image