Feast of Niño Pepe part of Advent celebrations in El Salvador

Annually on the 8th of December
  • Majordomo Ana Musto in front of some of the items important for the feast of the Niño Pepe. The turtle shells are played as drums by boys who lead the procession. The measuring stick allows her to line people up by height.
  • Ana Musto, majordoma of the cofradía Niño Pepe, stands in front of the building on her property that houses the statues and supplies of the cofradía. The cofradía's thatched hut for the celebration is built right at the front door of the building.
  • These statues belong to the cofradía del Niño Pepe. They include the Niño Pepe, statues of Pope St. Gregory the Great, and, on the left, San Pedro Martir, a Dominican saint, with a cleaver in his head.
  • The statue of the Niño Pepe is said to have been an "orphaned" statue rescued from the church after an earthquake. Izalco, El Salvador
  • This statue of San Pedro Martir, a Dominican saint, and patron of a city not far from Izalco, belongs to the cofradía del Niño Pepe. He was known for trying to stamp out heresy.
  • One of three statues of Pope St. Gregory the Great belonging to the cofradía del Niño Pepe. Izalco, El Salvador
  • Majordoma Ana Musto's staff, which identifies her a leader of the Cofradía Niño Pepe. It is brought out in particular when she raises funds from members for the feast. Izalco, El Salvador.
  • Fireworks for the Niño Pepe feast. Izalco, El Salvador
  • Serving bowls for food offered to participants in the Niño Pepe feast; each confraternity has special bowls for this purpose, marked with the initials of the cofradia. Izalco, El Salvador.

The Cofradía del Niño Pepe is located in the Barrio Santa Cruz, in Izalco. "Niño" refers to the infant Jesus. Majordoma Ana Musto said that the name "Niño Pepe" referred to the fact that the statue was “orphaned” in an earthquake and fire that destroyed the local church. Neither the statues of Mary nor Joseph survived, but the child Jesus did.

The feast takes place over five weeks, from December 8 through January 12. Many of the festivities take place in a dirt yard in front of the small adobe building that houses the shrine, behind Ana Musto’s house. The Niño is carried in procession around the barrio. To announce the feast, young boys parade around the barrio banging drumsticks on hollow tortoise shells affixed to their belts. Ana says that the statue was originally found among turtles, which is commemorated by the boys’ playing. Festivities include mariachi music, dancing, drinking, fireworks, tamales, and chocolate bread buns.

The cofradía also sponsors a feast for St. Gregory the Great.


Listen to an interview with Ana Musto, majordoma of Cofradia del Niño Pepe
Audio file