For the largely Catholic nation of Ecuador, in which religion is a core part for many peopleâ€™s lives, there is no more important religious occasion than the Holy Week. At noon, in a symbolic nod to the hour of Jesus Christâ€™s sentencing by Pontius Pilate, several hundred men known as Â¨cucuruchosÂ¨ in purple robes and pointed masked headdresses, begin a long march in a Procession of the Penitents. Up to 250,000 onlookers descend upon the area to watch and to pray. Women dressed in their own purple robes with veils covering their faces join the parade as the â€˜Veronicas,â€™ honoring the woman who, gave Jesus her veil to wipe his face. In order to identify with passion of Jesus Christ, many of the participants will go out of their way to inflict real suffering onto themselves, from self-flagellation to attaching cacti onto their exposed backs, or carrying a heavy wooden cross.