Cristo Negro

What Is Cristo Negro? 4 Fascinating Facts

Cristo Negro, or “Nazareno,” remains a significant symbol for Central America and especially for Panama where it is located. This image was carved from wood in 1595. It has blackened over time and gained a reputation as a wonderworking sacred relic. Its fame keeps spreading as migrants from Central America and Mexico bring similar images to the United States and Canada, founding new sanctuaries. Learn 4 interesting facts about this mystical relic in our new blog post. 

What is Cristo Negro? 4 fascinating facts

1. The wonderworking statue of Christ

Cristo Negro, or Black Christ, is located in the Guatemalan town of Esquipulas, near Honduras. Until 1737, various miracles were attributed to the statue, and even a sanctuary was built, where it is kept today. Its popularity largely derives from its acceptance among indigenous peoples, such as the Maya. Esquipulas is located where the Mayan god, who was called Ek Chuaj, was worshiped.

2. Christ carrying the cross

The statue of the Black Christ is housed in the local church of Inglesia de San Felipe. It is a full-length figure of Jesus Christ carrying a huge cross on His shoulder. This relic was made of dark brown cocobolo wood. It has darkened over time and become black. The image of the Black Christ commemorates the Savior’s sacrifice on the cross. His face expresses suffering and pain, both physical and mental.

3. The mystical arrival of the statue

The statue of the Black Christ mysteriously appeared in Portobelo. The legend says that it was supposed to be sent to Spain. However, the ship was forced to stop in Portobelo due to a storm. As a result, the sailors lower the box with the statue into the water, from where local fishers later retrieved it. After that, the Black Christ became the main relic of the city and all of Central America.

4. Festival of the Black Christ

In honor of Cristo Negro, Panama established a festival that takes place every year on October 21. On this day, the statue is dressed in a red or purple cloak to symbolize the Passion of Christ. Thousands of people from all over the world come to the Church of Inglesia de San Felipe to see El Nazareno.  

The Black Christ has an amazing story of appearance and story behind it, making it a significant shrine venerated by Christian believers. Similar images can also be found in Manila, the Philippines, and other locations.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons User Adam Jones / CC BY-SA 2.0