Paraguay feather festival

Catholics in this Paraguayan town paid homage to St. Francis Solano on Friday in a peculiar religious festival that involves dressing up in bird-feather suits.

The celebration was held at the chapel that bears the name of the saint, who was born in Spain in 1549 and died in Peru 1610. Solano was canonized in 1726.

Some 500 people attended the event — a mix of Roman Catholic and Guarani indigenous beliefs that has been held since the 19th century.

The festival began with a Mass, then a procession with an image of the saint and ended with people dancing in suits made with black, white, brown and grey feathers.

Legend has it that Guaicuru Indians used to attack smaller tribes and Spanish colonizers to steal their food and weapons. Some people decided to dress up in bird feathers to scare the Guaicuru away. The faithful say that as St. Francis Solano lay on his deathbed, birds sang to him.

Local priests say there are no records of the saint ever appearing in Paraguay but residents believe in his miraculous powers nonetheless.

Pedro Balbuena is seen as the chief of the feathered-ones. He says he has been organizing the dancing performance for 40 years. His group, which includes children, adults and the elderly, prefer to use rooster feathers for the suits, because they're more colorful.

Here's a gallery of images from Paraguay's bird feather festivity:


 

See more photos 

 

Follow Jorge Saenz | Twitter | Instagram 

 

Follow AP photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo

 

Text from AP news story, AP PHOTOS: Paraguayans use feathers to pay homage to saint.

 

Spotlight is the blog of AP Images, the world’s largest collection of historical and contemporary photos. AP Images provides instant access to AP’s iconic photos and adds new content every minute of every day from every corner of the world, making it an essential source of photos and graphics for professional image buyers and commercial customers.  Whether your needs are for editorial, commercial, or personal use, AP Images has the content and the expert sales team to fulfill your image requirements. Visit apimages.com to learn more.

 

Written content on this site is not created by the editorial department of AP, unless otherwise noted. 

 

 

AP Images on Twitter | AP Images on Facebook | AP Images on Instagram

 

 

 

Nat Castañeda is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York. A California native, Castañeda works primarily in video and collage, with an emphasis on tactile intimacy with her materials remaining an important aspect of all her projects. Common issues in Castañeda’s work are the conflating of iconography and pornography, the questioning of traditional gender binaries, and the role of technology within personal narratives. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts and has shown at venues such as El Museo del Barrio and Electronic Arts Intermix. In addition to her art practice, Castañeda currently works at The Associated Press where she leads a team that curates AP's online archive of historic and contemporary photojournalism. Castañeda’s photography has appeared in the New York Times,U.S. News & World Report and USA Today.