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Location: Chapi (Arequipa)
Date: May 1
Every year, thousands of pilgrims cross the desert from the city of Arequipa to the sanctuary of Chapi to worship the image of the Virgin of Purification, today known as the Virgen de Chapi.
In 1,790, the parish priest of Pocsi, Juan de Dios José Tamayo, tried to move the small image to another community and failed, reportedly because the statue suddenly became too heavy to move.
News of the miracle spread like wildfire, and today the faithful take around 15 hours to walk 45 km through the night, leaning on rustic walking staffs to reach the deserted spot located at 2,420 meters above sea level.
Before the first stop, the pilgrims gather stones of varying sizes which they will leave at Tres Cruces next to the road, forming the so-called apachetas which symbolize the weariness and sins that the faithful leave behind them.
The same thing occurs at Alto de Hornilla and then at Siete Toldos, 15 km from the spot, with countless candles flickering in the night. The following day, in Chapi, the virgin is borne aloft in a procession over carpets of flower petals. At night, next to the sanctuary, pilgrims set off fireworks and sell foodstuffs.
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