In quiet celebration: The Procession of Silence

Table of Contents

● 3 minutes read

The procession of silence in Quito, on Good Friday, becomes the focal point when the fever of the Procesión del Gran Poder has died down. After the bands have ceased their funeral dirge, the penitents have laid down their heavy crosses, the Cucuruchos have removed their cone-shaped hoods, and the crowds have dispersed; the city embraces a serene quietude and the sun dips below the horizon. It is in this moment of calm that a very different parade prepares to embark. This solemn procession, marked by its profound silence, offers a stark contrast to the day’s earlier activities, inviting participants and observers alike into a reflective journey through the streets of Quito.

procession of silence

The silence procession is another catholic event in celebration of Holy Week though it’s not as known as the Jesús del Gran Poder Procession.

No multitudes in their hundreds of thousands here: less than 250 people gather outside Santo Domingo, armed only with lighted candles, rosaries, and the odd torch crackling in the night.

The Origins and Significance of the “Procession of Silence” in Quito

This is the Procession of Silence, a Good Friday custom of Easter in Quito to mark Jesus’ removal from the cross to the tomb, remembering his humility in an atmosphere of introspective intimacy. A fairly modern custom, the Procession of Silence originated no more than 20 years ago, created by the Dominican monks of Santo Domingo.

It is here that the ritual begins, first with the celebration of mass at 6 PM. At the end of the service, a group of 10 men assembles, dressed as nazarenos in purple hooded robes, and bring down a large image of Christ from the cross, placing it on the Holy Sepulchre, a casket adorned with laurel, glass baubles, and gold dust. From the altar, the congregation accompanies the image towards the church’s exit out onto Rocafuerte Street, where they are joined by others and the procession begins. Quietly, even silently, the participants walk the streets of the Old Town, casting shadows with their flickering candles and torches.

It’s a beautiful, emotive scene, painting a very different picture of the devotion of Quito’s Catholics. For many, it embodies the true essence of the Easter message; for others, it is a way to capture the Old Town Quito at its most serene. It is another face of the giant that is Easter here.

Over two hours, the procession travels along the streets of Rocafuerte, Salvador, Milagros, Montúfar, Sucre, and García Moreno, before returning to Santo Domingo in peaceful contemplation. Some also carry images of Mary Magdalen and Saint John, but with none of the fanfare of the parade that took place around the same streets earlier in the day.

Want to join the Procession of Silence yourself? Head to Plaza Santo Domingo at 6 PM on Good Friday. Wrap up warm, and don’t forget to bring a candle!

Lighting the way

The Procession of Silence asks that each participant carries a lighted candle, and it’s far from the only religious ceremony in Quito that calls for wax and wick. In fact, there’s such a high demand that La Vela Mágica (the Magic Candle), a shop that opened 30 years ago, produces some 300 candles a day during the peak seasons of Holy Week and Christmas.

Candles here come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and scents and extravagant flower designs in bright pastel colors known as cirios are among the best sellers, and while slim candles are the most popular, the shop also sells heavy, thigh-high versions.

Scented with coconut, cinnamon, sandalwood, rose, and patchouli, the candles aren’t the only thing on sale at La Vela Mágica, there is also communion wine, religious figurines, communion wafers, and scents.

La Vela Mágica

Pereira and Montúfar

Travelers exploring the unique landscape near Finch Bay, showcasing the luxury experiences offered by the Gangotena Boutique Hotel network in the golden triangle.
Our Premier Ecuador Experience: The Golden Triangle
A Complete Experience that brings you the very best of Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands. With a stint in the Heart of Quito, The Mashpi Reserve, and a stay at The Galapagos Islands most lauded Hotel, Finch Bay.


Recommended post