Baby-jumping: the work of the devil?

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Dominic Bonuccelli travelled to Spain on assignment for Lonely Planet. You can follow his adventures on Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled, screening internationally on National Geographic. Here, Dominic captures the excitement of El Colacho (The Devil) at Castrillo de Murcia, where Corpus Christi is celebrated by chasing and whipping onlookers and the bizarre ritual of baby-jumping.

brotherhood-Santísimo

The shadowy brotherhood Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva (Sacred Sacrament of Minerva) descend from their headquarters beneath the town's church to lead El Colacho in a solemn procession.

El-Colacho-on-the-run

El Colacho scatters the crowd in one of his early appearances, whipping giggling youths with a horse-tail lash.

El-Colacho-unmasked

One of the three Colacho runners, freshly returned from a whipping run, betrays his true identity in the cloakroom of the Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva (Sacred Sacrament of Minerva).

The brotherhood

The brotherhood stands hatless and respectful during the mass just before El Colacho bounds into church, interrupts the vespers with drum and commences his baby-jumping rite.

Folkloric dancer

Folkloric dancers accompany the clergy and El Colacho during the baby-jumping procession.

Nervous parents

Parents hover nervously over their babies, who lie blissfully unaware of the approaching devil, on mattresses lining the streets of Castrillo de Murcia.

devil's-leap

Fleet of foot, and sans mask to avoid wipe-outs, El Colacho launches over the defenseless babes.

will-he-make-it

Apparently the Devil wears Nike, not Prada. The crowd holds its breath as El Colacho makes a leap of faith.

Girls toss petals

Looking like maidens from a pre-Raphaelite painting, young girls accompany the clergy and toss flower petals on the newly baptized infants in this curiously pagan ritual.

Preparing the feast

After the baby-jumping on Sunday, the brotherhood provides the community with a symbolic feast of wine and bread; here, helpers slice the massive bounty in preparation.