In late December of every year, the small andean town of Mucuchies (Mérida, Venezuela) hosts a two-day festival to celebrate San Benito de Palermo, their patron saint. In this collection of images taken by argentine photographer and journalist Yamila Blanco, viewers are provided a glimpse of Venezuela's San Benito Festival 2010.
As described by Santiago Padilla in his online photo essay:
Tradition tell us of a battle fought in the Venezuelan Independence when the patriots where loosing the fight and had to retreat because they had lost their flag-bearer. Demoralized and disheartened, they thought the battle was lost, until an image of the Black Saint, San Benito de Palermo appeared. The Patriots took the image and won the plaza; from then on, San Benito de Palermo became the Patron Saint of the village.
Every December, on the 29th, the townsmen dress up as their Patron Saint, paint their faces in black and form a colorful army of men women and children. They go from very early in the morning to late at night carrying an image of the Black Saint, marching and detonating black powder with their trabucos all over town. (The trabuco is like a small flintlock musket). At midday, the army gathers around at the plaza in front of the church to receive mass. The children, specially, love this festival, you can see many of them dressed up in costumes, dancing and celebrating all day long.