Black Christ

Portobelo is a small coastal town in the Colón Province of Panama. Each year on the 21st of October tens of thousands of pilgrims arrive there to celebrate the festival of Black Christ (El Cristo Negro). Many people pass the final stage of their journey to Portobelo crawling on hands and knees.

According to local beliefs the origin of this festival lays sometime around 1658 when the black statue of Christ carrying the cross floated to the shores of Portobelo. The statue was found by two fishermen. There had been a cholera epidemic at the time. People brought the statue to the church and started to pray. The epidemic suddenly finished.

Church of San Felipe
Chruch of San Felipe

The black statue of Christ or El Nazareno is kept in local church of San Felipe. During festival there is a big procession carrying the statue through the town. Persons who carry it wear special purple clothes. They have shaven head and walk barefoot. The festival of Black Christ is a joyous one. There is lot of music and dancing. All sorts of food and drinks are available.