A Migration to the Chapel of Hope and Miracles
31.03.2008 - 31.03.2008 23 °C
Andacocha is a destination for prayers of people who are subjected to inequalities so common, especially outside of the towns and cities. It used to be a place for prayers to protect animals or children from illnesses and the like but it has evolved within the last twenty years into a place to pray for safe migration to the United States or elsewhere, often illegally.
They say you have to suffer on the way to get there, and I got a good idea of what that entails. We climbed up steep rocky, muddy, swampy trails until we reached a pass between two higher mountains that is undeveloped, where a church and plaza stood. Depending on the type of suffering required for the type of prayer you are asking for, some migrants climb the slopes barefooted or even by crawling. The thought of either of those is remarkable. It was bad enough with a pair of tennis shoes.
As we climbed, we went along houses that have developed along the way now that a road leads up to the church. The church used to be a small little outpost, but now it is a grandiose building, reconstructed with the thousands upon thousands of dollars from migrants sending money back to pay homage and thanks to their miracle.
The church is home to a miracle, thus making it a miracle working place of worship. The story goes that a worker of a large hacienda found an icon of Jesus, no larger than the length of my hand, out in the middle of the páramo. The owners took the image down into the town below on three different occasions, each of which end with the image miraculously making its way back to the place it was found, close to the poor disfortunate workers of the hacienda. After the third miracle, it was decided that they would construct a chapel there, close to the indigenous people, to serve the indigenous people. Now, the less fortunate go there asking for a change in the inequalities of society here, by allowing a safe passage to the United States.
I made my own sacrifice in reaching the top, hiking the steep trails, and I had a little prayer of my own. One that the heavens above had heard many a time from where I lit my candle. I asked for my safe arrival into the United States. The church itself was lavishly decorated in stained glass windows, paid for with migrant money. They also had a museum paying homage to all the successful migrants who made it to the United States and who are making money to help their family out of debts and suppression. The room was not very big, but it was littered in photographs and plaques professing their thanks and devotion to Señor Andacocha.