Updated 08:21 AM EST, Thu, Dec 02, 2021

Caravana del Zorro: Guatemala's Annual Bikers Pilgrimage Riding for Peace [Details]

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Around 50,000 motorcyclists have ridden through the streets of Guatemala to pay their annual homage to the Black Christ of Esquipulas.

The majority of the leather-clad bikers, also known as the Caravana del Zorro, or the Caravan of Foxes, began their route in Guatemala City's center on Saturday and wrapped up in the town of Esquipulas near the El Salvador-Honduras border, according to teleSUR. Plenty of bikers joined the convoy along the way.

The bikers' annual two-day pilgrimage to the Basilica of Esquipulas, which is a 225-kilometer trip, honors the statue of the Black Christ (El Cristo Negro), a spiritual figure of a crucified Jesus Christ that is worshipped by Christians in Central America, the news outlet added.

This year's journey is also a special plea for peace in Guatemala, which is one of the most violent regions in the world, teleSUR wrote. The country's Ministry of Social Development said that nearly 53 percent of Guatemala's populace lives below the poverty line. Mission Newswire reported from the World Bank that rural poverty in the country remained the same during the last 20 years.

"We will ask for peace, progress and employment [for Guatemala] to the Lord of Esquipulas," said Edy Villa de Leon, also named as the "Grand Zorro," before the pilgrimage kicked off on Saturday, teleSUR reported. Villa de Leon's father is the founder of the annual caravan tradition, which first started 55 years ago and takes place on the first weekend of February.

Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales addressed the crowd before the caravan took off from Guatemala City, saying that thousands of bikers demonstrated that "when there is national unity, you can do amazing things," teleSUR added.

The Caravana del Zorro pilgrimage is attended by bikers from all over the Americas region, such as Bolivia, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and the United States, the news outlet listed.

The statue of the Black Christ, which was carved in 1594, was commissioned by Spanish conquistadors for the Basilica of Esquipulas and was placed there in 1595, Sacred Destinations wrote. The church showcases Baroque structure painted in glowing white, and has endured numerous earthquakes over the centuries with minimal damage.

The Black Christ was named after the wood it was carved from, and is protected in a glass case on the altar at the basilica's east end, Sacred Destinations added. Special processions and services take place on the Festival of the Black Christ (Jan. 15), July 21-27, and during Holy Week.

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