The Feast of the Nazarene of Caguach: Religious Identity, Geography, and Community in the Archipelago of Chiloé

Fernando Guzmán, Astrid Windus, Lorenzo Berg, Renato Cárdenas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Every 30 August in the archipelago of Chiloé, the small island of Caguach welcomes hundreds of pilgrim seafarers who participate in the feast of Jesus Christ the Nazarene. The life-size figure of Christ carrying the cross is the most important cult image of Chiloé, and its worship can be seen as a transcultural product of the contact between Europeans and the Indigenous population since colonial times. In order to understand the emergence and dynamics of the feast as well as its significance for Chiloé's religious identity, this article makes use of an ethnohistorical approach that connects Indigenous cultural practices with the structural characteristics and material culture of the Jesuit circular mission and the narrative roots of the feast. In this regard, two aspects are highlighted as particularly significant: first, the social structures based on the principles of collectivity and reciprocity that both shaped Indigenous and Catholic practices, especially concerning the intimate relationship between the local population and the images involved in the cult; and second, the importance of the natural space and its elements, such as water, mountains, or rain, which in Indigenous mythology and religion represented powerful entities with which people interacted continuously. These transcultural practices came into conflict with the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Catholic reform policies that aimed to "civilize"the local veneration of saints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-328
Number of pages26
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Caguach
  • Chiloé
  • Huilliche
  • Jesuits
  • pilgrimage


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