The Calvario Church of Cob√°n The Calvario is the most sacred site in Cob√°n, the focal point of religious practices throughout the year, but especially on Good Friday. It is said that on this spot long ago, a Lacandon hunter encountered two jaguars sleeping on a rock. But instead of killing them, he unaccountably put his spear aside and left them in peace. He returned the next day, and on the rock where the jaguars had been he saw an image of Christ. He hurried to tell the elders of Cob√°n, and when he returned with them they retrieved the image and took it into town.
The next day the elders were surprised and disappointed to find that the image had disappeared from the place where they'd put it. Returning to the rock of the jaguars, they found that the image had miraculously returned to its original place. This convinced them that Christ wanted them to build a temple upon that spot; and that was the impetus for the original church of the Calvario.
The Calvario's 130 steps above street level are said to correspond to the rosary. Several altars are erected on the incline leading up to the chapel. The first of these is Los Tigrillos, with a relief above the altar showing the two jaguars whose appearance originally marked the place. This altar is for making wishes - one lights a candle and prays to the power of the spot for help in making the wish come true. If it is money which is desired, then a little money is left beneath the cross. If it is protection for one's chickens and turkeys against predators and thieves, then a feather from the fowl is fastened to the altar with a piece of soft copal incense. A piece of one's own hair is fastened to the altar to obtain relief from "susto" - the state of fright which brings bad luck or illness. It is also said that if the flame of one's votive candle burns straight and steady, then the wish will be granted. But if the flame moves in the wind or makes smoke, it is a sign that the wish won't come true.
The second altar on the ascent is San Salvador: this is the lover's altar, and a candle burned here carries the wish for love. The highest altar, across from the entrance to the chapel, is Calavera: candles are burned here to ask for health.
The present chapel was constructed around 1810. Within its whitewashed walls burn hundreds of votive candles - on the floor, on altars, on the railings. Q'eqchi' supplicants kneel before the image of Christ and speak to him of their sadness and devotion with murmured prayers, whispered plaints, and soft crying.
Outside the chapel, the view across the terrace is a magnificent panorama of the city of Cob√°n, nestled in rolling green hills. To the southeast rise the Rocja mountains, dominated by the cloud-shrouded Mt. Xucaneb, the highest point in Alta Verapaz.
The Calvario is not only a place of pilgrimage, but also of peace and serenity, soothing busy Cob√°neros and weary travelers who wish to take a moment to themselves for rest, study, or meditation.