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Maya Underworld



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Devotion for the Departed
Photograph by Stephen L. Alvarez

In a candlelight procession inaugurating the Day of the Dead, the community of Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, moves a statue of St. Francis of Assisi from the religious house where it normally resides to the town church. The Maya believe that on this holiday, November 2, the portal to the underworld is opened, and the ancestors who dwell there can pass through it to interact with the living. Through his statue, St. Francis—the lord of the dead—watches over the returning souls that congregate in the church.

Photo Fast Facts

Camera: Canon EOS 10D
Film Type: Digital RAW file
Lens: 24mm
Speed and F-Stop: 1/8 @ f/1.4
Weather Conditions: Unrecorded
Time of Day: Night
Lighting Techniques: I had to hold my camera very still.


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