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Denver (CO), Aug 14 (EFEUSA) .- Denver's History Colorado Museum has today included Los Penintentes, a religious tradition with a two-century presence in the state, as part of its official history through a exhibition and a video.
Both highlight the history of this tradition, typical of the religious rites of Holy Week in Spain and Latin American nations, in southern Colorado and New Mexico.
The project, carried out in collaboration with the Museum of the Americas, also in Denver, is the culmination of the work of educator Antonio Esquibel, the genealogy expert Manuel Salazar and the producer of documentaries on the history of Mexican-Americans Rick Vigil.
This is an "extra special because of the rarity of its artifacts and the opportunity to listen to penitents practitioners of the present," said Victoria Page González, spokeswoman for the Museum of the Americas.
The directors of "Spirituality and its people in the San Luis Valley", a 23-minute video included interviews with "penitent" elders, or "elder brothers" like Max Taylor and Charlie Martinez, with images of some of their public ceremonies .
They pointed out that the purpose was to offer "a unique point of view" about this group, not focused on revealing their "secrets", but on documenting the current presence and historical continuity of the penitents since their formation more than two centuries ago up to the present .
Although popularly called Los Penitentes, the official name of the group is The Pious Fraternity of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, a "secret society" with private rituals, composed mostly of Spanish-speaking Catholic men from northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.
Its exact origins remain the subject of debate, but it is clear that the group originated in New Mexico in the second half of the 18th century (perhaps because of the lack of sufficient priests) and moved to Colorado in the early years of the 19th century, when that territory It still belonged to Mexico.
Then, for one hundred years, since 1848 (the year the region was under the control of the United States) until the middle of the 20th century, penitents remained active in many cities in Colorado, acting as a religious group and as a social and cultural fraternity.
Since then, their numbers have diminished considerably, although it is believed that 1,500 penitents still practice their beliefs in the south of the state.
In the video, the "older brother" Martínez explains that for 52 years he has been the director of a "lodging" (meeting center) in San Antonio, where every year, during the Holy Week, there is a "meeting" of simultaneous pilgrimages of parishioners, some departing from the abode with an image of Jesus, and others from the church with an image of the Virgin Mary.
For that reason, for Martinez, being a penitent is "a sacred commitment for all life."