The Brotherhood of the School of Christ. A focus of faith and tradition in Guatemala

The Hermandad del Señor Sepultado y María Santísima de la Soledad del Templo de la Escuela de Cristo is one of the best known and oldest in Guatemala. Its honorary president, Marco Augusto García Noriega, describes for Omnes, the history, the present and the importance of this Brotherhood in Guatemalan piety.

Maria José Atienza-April 7, 2023-Reading time: 4 minutes
school of the buried christ

Photo: Image of the Buried Lord of the School of Christ ©Salva Carranza / Facebook School of Christ.

The images of the Buried Lord and Mary Most Holy of Solitude of the Temple of the School of Christ are very dear and venerated by the Guatemalan faithful. From Passion Wednesday, with the vigil of the Blessed Virgin, to Holy Saturday, with the procession of the Buried Lord, their brothers and devotees, who number in the thousands, accompany Christ and his Mother with their prayers and their presence in an outstanding display of popular piety, faith and devotion.

Como recuerda Marco Augusto García Noriega, presidente honorario de esta Hermandad y autor de un libro sobre esta antigua y querida devoción guatemalteca, “los primeros documentos sobre la Hermandad del Señor Sepultado y María Santísima de la Soledad del Templo de la School of Christ appear in the year 1750. In them mention is made of a brotherhood in charge of the protocols of Holy Week for a crucified Christ, although it is probable that already in 1650 the brotherhood in charge existed, but due to the natural catastrophes of the time the documentation was lost".

The image of the Buried Lord from the School of Christ

The image of Christ, according to the Brotherhood itself, "is a beautiful work from the middle of the 18th century, which vividly shows a body subjected to effort, evidenced by the muscles and tendons in the arms and legs".

García Noriega points out that "around the end of the 18th century, the image of Christ was modified and became that of a recumbent Christ, so that the crucifixion and descent ceremonies could be carried out every Good Friday, as it is done to date".

The processions of the crucifixion and descent of this Brotherhood are among the best known and most beloved processions in the city of Antigua, not in vain "the Brotherhood of the Buried Lord and Mary Most Holy of Solitude of the Temple of the School of Christ is made up, to date, of more than ten thousand active members who participate in the main processions of the School of Christ" as Marco Augusto Garcia emphasizes.

The Brotherhood throughout the year

Although Good Friday and Holy Saturday are central dates in the calendar of devotees and brothers of the School of Christ, the life of the Brotherhood is not reduced to these dates. Marco Augusto García Noriega explains, for Omnes, how "the School of Christ has several processions with its titular figures, the main ones being those of Good Friday and Holy Saturday".

In addition to these, García Noriega explains, "in the second week of May there is a vigil of the Santísima Virgen de Dolores followed by a small procession of about four hours in the vicinity of the temple".

The former president of the School of Christ adds that "at the beginning of the present century, and for more than fifteen years, a ten-hour procession was carried out, in which the members of the Brotherhood participated with their families, being very well attended. During this procession rosaries were provided to the participants with a small booklet explaining how to pray it every day. Unfortunately, this procession was suspended and limited by the ecclesiastical authorities of that time who argued that it did not coincide with the liturgical calendar".

Apart from the Marian procession in May, the procession on November 1 in commemoration of the Faithful Departed is very well attended. This well-known procession, as García Noriega describes, "lasts between eight and ten hours. Its origin dates back to 1949, when a Franciscan friar Fray Miguel Murcia, now deceased and very beloved in Guatemala, set as objectives of this procession to commemorate the faithful departed; to unite all the brotherhoods of the country, and to give the opportunity to people who could not participate in the activities of Good Friday or Holy Saturday to renew their vows. This procession is about to celebrate its 75th anniversary and is very popular within the Catholic parishioners of Guatemala".

The Hermandad del Señor Sepultado y María Santísima de la Soledad del Templo de la Escuela de Cristo has, evidently, a strong roots and presence in the life of piety and celebrations of the city of Antigua.

school of christ
Marco A. García Noriega and his wife present their book to Pope Francis

This is attested by Marco Augusto García Noriega who points out how the Brotherhood "takes an active part in the Eucharistic celebration of the Resurrection, in the feast of Corpus Christi, attends the liturgical acts of other Brotherhoods, organizes the Christmas celebrations and the procession of the Virgen de la O on December 25. It also prepares the candlelight vigil for the Virgin of Solitude on Passion Wednesday and on Holy Wednesday for the Lord of the Burial.

Faith, legacy and tradition

At a time of advancing secularization, we asked Marco Augusto García Noriega about the role of this Brotherhood in strengthening and living the faith in Guatemala and he responded "the School of Christ is known for fulfilling three objectives: faith, legacy and tradition. FaithThroughout the year, its members must make a personal commitment to renew their faith in order to be better Catholics each year, according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Legacybecause its members know that they have to be an example of practicing Christian values in order to, at the end of their lives, present themselves to God and be able to tell him 'mission accomplished' and 'mission accomplished'. tradition since the members transmit, from generation to generation, the values of the School of Christ, which is why it is a source of pride to belong to it".

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