Sculpted by Quirio Cataño in Antigua, the Black Christ dates back to 1595. By 1603, it already had a miracle attributed to it, but it wasn't until 1735, when Father Pedro Pardo de Figueroa was miraculously cured while praying in front of the statue, that things really began to happen. Father Pedro was eventually elected Archbishop of Guatemala, and he used the power of this position to order the construction of a cathedral worthy of this miraculous icon. The current Basílica was finished in 1758, and is a beautiful and grand church that has withstood Guatemala's regular cycle of massive earthquakes, a miracle in itself.

The Black Christ is currently exhibited in a glass case set at the back of the Basílica's main altar. The entrance to see it is along the left side of the church. At peak periods, this line can be quite long, and it might take more than an hour to get your chance to walk around the enclosed display case.

During Holy Week, July 21 to July 27, and around January 15 (the official festival day of the Black Christ), the town is packed with religious pilgrims, including a large number of Guatemalans who bring their cars to be blessed by the priests. You'll spot these cars, decked out in colored ribbons and religious trinkets, in a specially designated parking lot and on the road on their way out of town.

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Walk Backward -- Believing it an offense to turn your back on the Black Christ, pilgrims exit the viewing area by walking backward. The going is slow at times, but the narrow pathway has no steps or railings on either side, making the task rather easy.