THE DIOCESAN SHRINE OF SALIENTE OPENS UP TO THE PEOPLE OF LATIN AMERICA WITH THE FEAST OF THE “EMPRESS OF THE AMERICAS”.
On the Sunday before the great pilgrimage on the 8th September, the Diocesan Shrine of the Saliente hosted for the first time the feast of the “Empress of the Americas”. The Ecuadorian, Bolivian, Dominican, Paraguayan and Mexican pilgrims testified to the universal character of the devotion to La Pequeñica. A morning of dances, fervour and even gastronomy to vindicate the Catholicity of all these republics on the other side of the ocean.
VISIT OF THE CONSUL OF THE REPUBLIC OF ECUADOR
Although the Roel treasures a history of many centuries, the devotion to Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados del Buen Retiro del Saliente always writes new pages among the mountains of the Estancias. This Sunday the wide esplanade of the Sanctuary was filled with all the colours, sounds and even the smells of the Latin American peoples. The invitation of the Shrine itself was eagerly accepted and for the first time a fraternal celebration was held to thank the Mother of God, “Empress of the Americas”, for the cultural richness of all the nations and to pray to her for all the families.
The national flags of the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico and Paraguay waved in the Almanzoreño air. Each flag was followed by a good number of citizens from these countries, dressed in their typical costumes and with the devotional images of their nations of origin. The Paraguayans carried Our Lady of the Miracles of Caacupé, the Bolivians Our Lady of Urkupiña, the Mexicans Our Lady of Gaudalupe and the Ecuadorians multiplied their presence with replicas of Our Lady of the Swan, the Divine Child and Saint James the Apostle.
The Consul General of the Republic of Ecuador for Andalusia, who arrived from Malaga to accompany the large group of Ecuadorian pilgrims, was received in the Salón de los Cristales. Together with the rest of the national groups, she signed the honorary book and shared some interesting aspects of the history of this emblematic place.
“JESUS CHRIST IS NOT A FIEFDOM OF ANY CULTURE”.
The sweet folk melodies of some regions of these Ibero-American republics surprised the pilgrims attending the Sunday celebration, as typical dances followed one after the other on the esplanade. Great applause followed each of the dances, infecting everyone with their joyful rhythms and sounds.
Then, amidst the songs of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Pilgrims’ Holy Mass was celebrated before the sacred image of the Pequeñica. With great delicacy, the different invocations and flags were explained and placed at the foot of the main altar. Despite the sweltering heat and the crowds, the silence and recollection of the pilgrims was impressive throughout the service.
In his homily, the Rector, Don Antonio Jesús María Saldaña Martínez, told them: “Jesus Christ is not a fiefdom of any culture or civilisation. He addresses all the peoples of the world, teaching us love, mercy and justice. In this way, cultures rise above themselves and are perfected. Living the grace of Jesus Christ, walking in the Holy Church, shows us that – in reality – we owe ourselves to one civilisation: the civilisation of love.
It was also recalled that, at that very moment, the Holy Father was beatifying one of his predecessors: Pope John Paul I. The Rector recalled the appreciation of this new Blessed for America and invited the pilgrims to pray a prayer of Pope Luciani to all the pilgrims. The Assumptionist nuns, who participated in the front row, nodded with obvious affection.
A UNIVERSAL AND CATHOLIC SHRINE
Finally, after a long succession of cheers, the traditional songs and dances were resumed with overflowing jubilation. The galleries of the Cloister, accustomed to the music of the “Cuadrillas de Ánimas”, adapted to this new music. And the different national groups joined in and celebrated the meeting with a sample of Ibero-American gastronomy.
When the music and the dancers had died down, the tireless doors of the Sanctuary were still open to receive the growing number of pilgrims who continue to arrive from Almería and Murcia. A new fiesta that demonstrates, once again, the universality and catholicity of Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados del Buen Retiro del Saliente Coronada.