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Amongst the procession of hundreds of young men, photographer Juan Carlos Lelo De Larrea captures the spellbound face of a single Nazarene participating in the Passion of Christ performance in Iztapalapa, Mexico City. As part of a nearly two centuries’ old tradition, the event takes place on Good Friday, drawing millions of visitors each year.

The play itself marries biblical narratives with anachronistic details, Catholic legend with Aztec folklore. Figures like Judas Iscariot and the Wandering Jew appear as a the procession of Nazarenes follow Christ, cast by an electing committee, as he carries a two hundred and twenty pound cross a few miles up a hill to the staged crucifixion. The men and women, cast as virgins, carry crosses of various weights and sizes as symbols penitence and gratitude towards Jesus, who is believed to have saved the people of Iztapalapa from the cholera epidemic of 1833.

Where most images of the Passion at Iztapalapa document the sheer volume of spectators and performers at this massive event, De Larrea focuses his attention on a single young person, awestruck as he makes his way forward. De Larrea is a winner of American Photography’s Latin American Fotografia 3.

Image © Juan Carlos Lelo De Larrea

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