Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Durango to Parral

The moon rises over the desert between Zacatecas and Parral.

The bus drives along a Mexican highway destined for Parral.

A giant sculpture greets visitors into Parral, Mexico.

She becomes an attraction

By the time Mass ended at the Cathedral of Durango word had spread around town about the statue. One smart local entrepreneur took pictures of the statue earlier and had them developed during Mass. When the Mass was over and people flooded the area where the statue was waiting the man was selling the postcard sized photos for 10 pesos. He sold out within minutes.

The beggar and Mannie

In front of the Cathedral there was a beggar. He held out a tin can and sat in a spot where he was unavoidable. But Mannie Montoya of Santa Fe did not avoid the weathered man. He talked to him as the enormous crowd filed past to see the statue. Mannie befriended the man, Hueva Hernandez. Many people dropped coins into the Mr. Hernandez's tin can. But Mannie had a unique experience with the beggar. The Beggar gave Mannie something. After they talked for about an hour the man took off what looked like a silver class ring and gave it to Mannie. This is for you, he said.
The beggar and the line to see the statue

The beggar and his tin can

The beggar and Mannie

From Pilgrims to Evangelists

After witnessing the huge crowd that gathered on a sunny and hot Tuesday at noon, Bishop Héctor González Martínez said to the Monsignor, Priest and Deacons accompanying the group, "You came here as pilgrims but what you have become is evangelists."

Immediately after the visit to Durango and its cathedral some of the Santa Fe pilgrims were somewhat overwhelmed with the devotion they saw. "We thought we were going to pick up a statue and ask for blessings but this has grown. It now has a life of its own," said Deacon Anthony Trujillo after witnessing the huge crowds that came out to see the statue in Durango.

White doves fly from the Cathedral tower.

The line of faithful stretches down the block.

People leave money, cards, flowers and rosaries on the statue.

Maria de la Rosa Perez, whose 5 year-old child has lukemia, is hugged by her mother Maria Luisa Perez after touching the statue of La Virgen. Maria, who was on her way to the store to get medicine for her sick child saw the statue and called her mother. Her mom quickly came and they both visited the statue. Maria broke down crying after touching the statue. She said her devotion to La Virgen is making her child better.

A man kisses the statue.

People touch the statue.

Women watch as the statue is wrapped up.

Fatima Roasario Puente Rodriguez, who is almost completely blind, was determined to see the face of the statue of Nuestra Señora. Fatima climbed atop the truck after the statue was wrapped with bubble wrap. The workers from Transportes Mora removed the plastic from the face and Fatima used a cell phone to take a photo of the exposed face. She then held the image on the screen of the phone close to her one working eye where she saw a faint image of the face of Mary. Many in the crowd cried when the young girl did this.

Thousands of faithful

The pilgrims from Santa Fe knew this visit was going to be different as soon as they arrived in the Plaza. Some in the group were approached by locals and were asked if they were traveling with the statue of La Virgen. Apparently the word of the journey is spreading across the country of Mexico. One of the signs that this visit was different was literally a sign. On the window of a bus driving through town were the words "Santa Fe Virgen," advertised as a destination in the bus' route. The statue definitely became a destination as thousands turned out to see her and attend a noon Mass on a Tuesday.

The travelers from Northern New Mexico took on roles helping control the crowd and helping las viejitas, the children and the men up the ramp to touch, kiss and pray to the Patron Saint of the Americas.
Bishop Héctor González Martínez blesses the statue as people crowd around the truck and statue.

Locals take photos of the statue.

Faithful walk up the ramp of the truck to kiss and touch the statue.

Enrique Martinez Romero from Transportes Mora helps guide vistors up the ramp.

Monsignor Jerome Martinez y Alire is interviewed by TV Azteca, the Mexican version of CNN.

Bishop González Martínez blesses the statue.

The line to touch the statue stretched down the street and around the block at one point.

A bus advertises the "Santa Fe Virgen" as one of the stops on its route.

The crowd in front of the Cathedral.

Mass at Durango

The Cathedral is packed to capacity for the Tuesday Mass welcoming the statue of La Virgen and her pilgrims.

Bishop Héctor González Martínez blesses the pilgrims from Santa Fe.

Priest and Deacons line up for the mass.

Theresa Ortiz, left, and Erlinda Casados lead the group into the church.

From left, Bishop González Martínez, Father Tri and Monsignor Jerome celebrate the Mass.

Diane Alvarado, Mary Rodriguez and Dolores Romero pilgrims pray during Mass.

Diane Alvarado prays during the service.

Bishop Héctor González Martínez blesses the pilgrims from Santa Fe.

From left, Theresa Ortiz, Erlinda Casados, Albino Zuniga and Anna Rael listen to the Bishop during the service.

Diane Alvarado reads during the service while Mary Rodriguez waits to read.

From left, Dolores Romero, Veronica Nava, Mary Rodriguez and Diane Alvarado pray during the service.

Alicia Pino takes a photo of the formal Mass.

Faithful face

A woman who just viewed the statue of La Virgen stands in front of the Cathedral of Durango.

The Bishops of Durango: A connection to Santa Fe

Today the pilgrims from New Mexico visited the historic Cathedral of Durango, Mexico. Many years ago strong influences on the history of New Mexico came from within the beautiful and ornate colonial church. The Bishops of Durango have a strong connection to the complex history of El Norte.

Durango, which just celebrated its 448th anniversary, was the Capital of Nueva Viscaya, one of the states under the Spanish Crown. Since 1620 a Bishop has administering his flock from Durango.

In 1730 Bishop Benito Crespo traveled to El Paso del Norte and up the Rio Grande valley to present day New Mexico. Bishop Crespo and the Franciscans who met his entourage had disagreements. The conflict between Crespo and the Fransicans climaxed when the Fransicans would not allow Crespo into La Parroquia in Santa Fe. He reported the disrespect to the Spanish Crown.

Later, Bishop of Durango Martin Elizacochea, from the Basque region of Spain, admonished the Franciscans and ordered them to learn the Indian languages and send more priests to convert the Natives. Because of the language barrier many Indians would not go to confession. It was improper because with an interpreter present the confessions were not always honest.

In the late 1700s Bishop Tamaron of Durango was properly received by Fransicans. To receive a Bishop was a big thing back then. The men would greet him and his entourage on horseback, firing rifles into the air to announce his arrival. The women would throw their shawls on the ground in front of His Excellency. A feast was held and confirmations were performed.

Bishop Tamaron of Durango was received with the lavish welcome in Pecos, southeast of Santa Fe. But something curious happened there. And from this curious thing was born the Northern New Mexican legend of el maldición de Dios or the curse of the bishop.

Days after Bishop Tamaron was received in Pecos some local men gathered and mocked the Bishop. A man dressed like the Bishop and pretended to be received. He made fun of Tamaron. He mocked him.

Later that afternoon when the man went out to tend to his sheep he encountered a bear. He did not survive. The bear killed the man. After this event the Indians feared the Bishop and believed the death of the man was a curse for mocking the His Excellency. From then on they feared and respected the Bishops.

Bishop of Durango Laureano Zubiria was one of the most influential Bishops on New Mexico history. He visited Northern New Mexico in 1830, 1833 and 1848. Each of these journeys likely took months at a time.

After Mexican independence the Fransiscans lost their support from Spain. They pulled out of New Mexico. Zubiria recruited seminarians educated in Durango to return to New Mexico. He had locals ordained in the Cathedral of Durango and then sent them back to tend to the flock in New Mexico.

In 1850 the Diocese of Durango's administration of New Mexico ended after 250 years.

"We have a great debt owed to the Bishops and people of Durango," said Monsignor Jerome Martinez y Alire during today's visit.

Héctor González Martínez, the present day Bishop of Durango, puts on his Mitre.
The plaza in front of the Cathedral of Durango
A fountain in the plaza
La cupula in the center of the plaza

La Virgen in front of the Cathedral