Thousands of pilgrims began to arrive at Esquipulas, Chiquimula, this Friday, January 14, to venerate Saturday, January 15, Black Christ, in a tradition that brings together thousands of Catholics from all over Guatemala, of the rest of Central America and Mexico and that in 2022 it takes place amid the rebound in coronavirus cases due to the omicron variants.
With flowers, candles, traditional hats and incense, thousands of Catholics make long lines to participate in the mass or venerate the image of the Black Christ, whose image celebrates 428 years of having been taken to that place, activities that were not carried out last year due to the pandemic; However, this year the Basilica opened its doors, but to enter, rigorous biosecurity protocols must be met.
It was reported that of the 12,000 people that the Basilica has capacity, this year only 425 are allowed to sit on benches, divided four by four.
“For the Church, returning to normality little by little means living our faith again, coming together again, celebrating Christ again,” the priest commented. Édgar Martínez Solís, in charge of the pilgrim care protocol at the Basilica of Esquipulas.
“Having the doors of the Basilica open this January 15 means for us that the Church welcomes everyone. The Church is our mother, we are from the same family, so Christ himself calls us to enter the Church, to congregate, to meet and especially in the Esquipulas Sanctuary which has been the center of all the pilgrimages in Central America,” added Martínez.
A mass is planned for midnight, although it is known that the authorities of the Basilica ask the faithful to follow it on social networks, to avoid crowds in the temple.
Members of the Mayan Q’eqchi community of the village Plan Grande, Quehueche, Livingston, Izabal, They traveled to Esquipulas to donate an image of a Black Christ of almost three meters, since they assure that he is the patron saint of their town and that, as in Esquipulas, they also commemorate him every January 15.
They walked, sailed about 45 minutes and traveled another six hours by bus to take the image to the Basilica.
“We walked, sailed and traveled more than 325 kilometers,” he said. Pedro Tení, member of the Mayan Q’eqchi community of the Plan Grande village, Quehueche, Lívingston, Izabal, who added that a total of 80 people make up the pilgrimage.
Inocencio Méndez López, a pilgrim who traveled from San Sebastian Abasolo, Oaxaca, Mexico, He commented that he left his town with his family three days ago to worship the Black Christ of Esquipulas.
Remember that it is the second time you visit Esquipulas and that this time seeks to instill that tradition in the new generations.
He added that the pilgrimage in which he arrived is made up of 35 people, who bring candles and flowers as an offering and implore health for everyone.
settlers of La Tinta, Alta Verapaz, They also came to Esquipulas, who came to ask for a blessing for the family, as they do every year, according to Marvin Alberto Chol.
Jorge Mario Lara, coming from Puerto Barrios, Izabal, He said that he came on behalf of many neighbors who could not travel, but thanks to his support they gathered funds to buy flower arrangements.
He added that they have been making the pilgrimage for 20 years, which they complete after traveling for at least five hours. He added that the fact that the Basilica has been opened is the product “of the miracle of the Lord of Esquipulas.”
on orange alert
Esquipulas is currently on orange epidemiological alert and according to data from the Ministry of Health, the municipality registers 2 two thousand 31 cases of covid-19, with an incidence of 3 thousand 644.8 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants. In addition, it reports 45 deceased
Last January 12, Odilia Ramos, interim coordinator of the Esquipulas Health District, reported on the first case of the omicron variant and asked the population not to lower their guard and increase prevention measures, due to how contagious this strain usually is.
With a population of 55,723, 67.3% are vaccinated with one dose and, according to Health, this is equivalent to 28,126 people.