Fascinating Portraits from a Mexican Catholic Pilgrimage

Award-winning photographer Alinka Echeverría captured a six million man spiritual pilgrimage to the Basílica de Guadalupe in Mexico City. The Catholics journey to the church on the anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531 as seen by a devout, indigenous Mexican named Juan Diego. The story says that her image miraculously appeared on his cloak while he was walking to church on the hill of Tepeyac. Pilgrims gather from all around the country to make the arduous trip and pay homage to the Virgin, asking for favors of healing, love, wealth, and blessings in the afterlife. They walk on foot for days, often with their families, some wearing traditional costumes. The most striking aspect of the journey are the images of the Virgin pilgrims carry on their backs: statues, blankets, paintings, and even entire altars encased in glass. Echeverría is interested in exploring “the relationship between image and belief, and the power of iconic images from an anthropological perspective.” She tries to understand why “images are needed at a psychological level in order to believe and how they have been used throughout history at collective level to instill or evoke faith in religious or political beliefs.” See the artist’s moving series, The Road to Tepeyac, in our gallery after the break. Pick up a copy of Echeverría’s HSBC Prix pour la Photographie book over here.

Image credit: Alinka Echeverria