The Black Christ of Esquipulas was carved in Antigua

Rudy Giron: &emdash; El Cristo Negro de Esquipulas fue tallado en La Antigua Guatemala

As I have mentioned before, every year, on 15th of January, thousands of pilgrims from Guatemala, the United States, Europe, Mexico 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:

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?

© 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • El Canche

    Hi Rudy,
    I hope this does it for you……

    “In the city of Santiago of Guatemala, on this the 29th day of the month of August, in the year of Our Lord of Our Lord fifteen hundred and ninety four, Cristobal de Morales, Procurator for this Bishopric, has made an agreement with Quirio Catano, licensed sculptor, that he fashion for the people of Esquipulas, a crucifix of one and one half yards (1.38 metres), very well finished and fully detailed, which should be delivered completed by the next festive Day of Saint Francis and payment for this shall be one hundred Tostones*, each worth four silver reals and on account of those one hundred Tostones, he bears witness to having received fifty Tostones as payment in advance received in cash and furthermore agrees to complete the work, pledging his person and his assets as surety by means of his hand-written signature and that of the aforesaid Procurator as witness”.

    * ( A Real is 3.4 grammes of silver and the Toston an official Spanish coin valued at four Reales and bearing the mark of the head of the sovereign; name taken from the Italian TESTONE meaning the head)

    • Excellent translation Canche. I will update the entry with your translation as soon as I get a chance.