Quirio Cataño, Sculptor of the Black Christ of Esquipulas

Quirio Cataño Plaque in Central Park

Every year, On January 15th, thousands of pilgrims from Guatemala, the United States, Europe and other Central American countries flock to pay homage to the dark wooden image of the crucified Christ, the most revered Catholic shrine in Esquipulas, the spiritual center of Central America. The image of the Black Christ dates back to March 9, 1595, when the Portuguese sculptor Quirio Cataño presented it to the mayor of the city. (source: Wikipediag.org)

It seems like La Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala (The Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Saint James of the Knights of Guatemala), now known simply as La Antigua Guatemala, has always been at the epicenter of past events in Central America. So, it turns out that the Portuguese sculptor Quirio Cataño was living in Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala when he was commissioned the sculpture of the crucified Christ for the shrine of Esquipulas, which is located in the Guatemalan Department of Chiquimula on the border with Honduras and he was finished on October 4th of 1594 the people from Esquipulas traveled to La Antigua Guatemala to pick up the figure and during the trip back to Esquipulas, those who saw the sculpture were enchanted by its beauty and requested to have the crucified Christ image at least a day; finally arriving in Esquipulas on March 9, 1595. That’s how the pilgrimage began to pay homage to the Black Christ of Esquipulas. Below you can read the actual contract between Cristóbal de Morales, the donor, and Quirio Cataño, the sculptor.

En la Ciudad de Santiago de Guatemala, a los veintinueve dí­as del mes de agosto del año mil quinientos noventa y cuatro, Cristóbal de Morales, Provisor de este Obispado, concertó con Quirio Cataño, oficial de escultor, que haga para el Pueblo de Esquipulas un Crucifijo de vara y media, muy bien acabado y perfeccionado, que lo debe dar acabado el dí­a de San Francisco, primero que viene, y se han de dar por él cien tostones de cuatro reales de plata cada uno; y para en cuenta de los dichos cien tostones confesó haber recibido adelantados cincuenta tostones de los cuales recibió realmente y el se obligó a cumplirlo, y para ello obligó su persona y bienes y lo firmó de su nombre y el dicho Provisor.

—Cristóbal de Morales – Quirio Cataño.
(source: Cristo Negro de Esquipulas/Wikipedia ES)

Who wants to have a chance at translating the above contract?

© 2009 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Thomas Wheeler

    January 15 I know it well To see the thousands of people in Esquipulas that day is something to be hold. I have one of those Esquipulas Hats that are so famous . Also You should show us the inside of the Church I’ve seen nothing like it any where in the world., and I’ve been many places Thomas Wheeler de Dona Luisa in Antiqua

  • When I returned to Esquipulas after fourteen years, I felt like a 10 year old kid again.

  • Juan

    Hi does anyone has any idea of the black nazareth in philipines Quiapo and the patron sao t of esquipulas they only have 11 years apart from when they were made the both are celebrated on january guatemala 15 Jan and Philipines 9 Jan l found this very interested l wonder if anyone has investigated if there is any relation between them please send response to az19dragon@yahoo.com
    Thanks