Saturday, May 4, 2019

La Churona

Image result for virgen cisne  ecuador
La Churona*

We moved to Cuenca, Ecuador in 2017, and about 20 years of catechizing has been put on hold while I work on Spanish competency. In the meantime I'm in a Bible study group, and sit in on family catechesis. Plus I have developed a surprisingly cordial and substantial relationship with the nearby Jehovah's Witnesses congregation.

Once every couple of months or so,  JWs will call. At this point they know me, I know 5 of them. We don't agree of course, but I'm happy to talk about Jesus with anyone. My pitch to any evangelizer at my door is, if you are so motivated by your faith to go door-to-door, why aren't you Catholic? So we always have a good time disagreeing without arguing. They have their Bibles, I have mine. I like the chance to present the Catholic worldview in a scriptural context, which I don't think they've heard before, not even the former Catholics. I don't press them, so they can hear me without feeling threatened.

On another note, we have no car, and walk almost everywhere. Occasionally we take a cab, some of them will have a statue of the Madonna on the dash. But these aren't generic Madonnas, they are specific to a given locale, of which there must be dozens in South America. So I make a habit of asking the taxistas about their Virgens. Two days ago, after grocery shopping we took a cab  which sported a Virgen with Rapunzel-length hair. The driver said she is La Virgen del Cisne, the Virgin of the Swan. Her shrine is in Cisne, not too far from Cuenca.

This morning about 9:30, we were in Centro (downtown), and noticed streets were blocked off around the stadium, and hundreds of people are briskly headed to it, walking, in cabs, and in buses. I figure, soccer game. I ask someone what's up. It's not soccer: rather, the statue of the Virgin from the shrine in Cisna is visiting Cuenca, and the Cathedral is too small for the crowds. Quite the coincidence! Once home, I checked a local paper for info, here's an excerpt from an article:

"A welcoming Mass was offered yesterday, as the image of the Virgin of El Cisne visited Cuenca on the occasion of the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Diocese of Cuenca. From 17:00 the devotees gathered in the Miraflores parish church, where the Mass was celebrated. This was followed by a procession carrying the image to la Cathedral de La Inmaculada ConcepciĆ³n. A second Eucharist was celebrated and youth groups kept vigil.

Today's program will begin at 11:00 with a ceremony of thanksgiving that will take place at the "Alejandro Serrano Aguilar" stadium. In this event the official anthem of the Archdiocese of Cuenca will also be presented."

So folks were already arriving en masse at 9:30 for an event starting at 11:00.

It's a good place to be Catholic.

*La Churona, the woman with lots of curls.