When it comes to pilgrimages, processions and retreats, Quito definitely lights all the Americas...
The beacon that captivated me shone from the Basilica. The very first time I heard the bells calling for me, they drew me in, and I followed enraptured - half running up the steep street, stopping intermittently to catch my breath and quiet my pounding heart, to attend my first Mass in Ecuador. I tiptoed in and sat there spellbound, listening to a very fitting and well-delivered sermon.
After Mass, I climbed even higher - reminding myself it's on the Andes, slow down - to the next street, La Calle de Las Siete Cruces that doubles as Garcia Moreno Street. Children sitting alongside the fence in front of the Basilica on Carchi Street had pointed the way for me.
The seven crosses led me back downhill to the churches on that one street. I discovered the whole Sunday could easily be kept holy here in spontaneous meditative mini retreats... a bonus treat for those of us in love with Jesus Christ who seek out pilgrimages just like this one.
A pilgrimage - www.ourladyofgoodsuccess.com - already scheduled to take place a few months after my first arrival complete with a priest to offer a daily Latin Tridentine Mass as a prelude to Lent beckoned me to return. Mesmerized, I did. This holy expedition excelled in all it promised and delivered.
--- Simply because of my extensive experience with this one, I post the connection as a service to you at zero profit. Booking and buying from the site is at your own risk. ---
Processions...oh, so many...followed. Quito holds the title, Reliquary of Faith. Holy Week's Good Friday with so many cucuruchos and veronicas in all sizes tops the rest as the largest. They emerge in droves from Iglesia de San Francisco - in fulfillment of promises made to God - making little pilgrimages before the main group begins.
Also, costumed Christs and Roman soldiers add to the walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, reflecting on His sole purpose of opening the gates of heaven for those who wish to take up their cross and follow Him in response to His sublime invitation when He said, "If you want to be my disciple, you must deny your very self, take up your cross daily and follow Me."
The procession on the Sunday closest to March 25, feast of Our Lady of the Annunciation, originates at the Basilica, weaves through the historic center and winds its way to the top of El Panecillo culminating in a Mass up there. The one on the Sunday closest to the feast of the Sacred Heart in June sometimes carries on the same.
Both honor the consecration of Ecuador by President Gabriel Garcia Moreno and the bishop that accompanied him in the consecration to the Sacred Heart - and by the bishops to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
La Dolorosa, Our Lady of Sorrows, gives momentum to the procession in her honor on the 20th of every month at 4:30 AM from La Iglesia de la Compania. It zigzags its way around different streets in colonial downtown Quito in reverent song and prayer ending back in the same church with a Mass.
May and October and all days honoring Our Lady, the devout march in faith... as on the Sunday nearest July 15 in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel - both Carmen Alto and Carmen Bajo...on alternate Sundays.
Carmen Bajo swerves around downtown colonial Quito streets rather than ascend El Panecillo.
We can't omit Santo Domingo de Guzman with its Palm Sunday around-the-plaza procession.
On Good Friday at 9:00 AM, the Stations of the Cross happen on Rocafuerte, called "La Loma."
Iglesia San Agustin offers the miraculous statue of the body of Christ for veneration from noon on Good Friday until 3:00 PM. Many miracles have been attributed to venerating the statue in devout prayer. This treat has been discontinued for whatever reason.
My very favorite procession and personal retreat took place in 2008 at the coming of the relics of St. Therese. We accompanied the relics upon arrival at the airport to her beginning and later ending destination in the city, El Carmelo, walking distance from the downtown airport.
St. Therese graced many churches in Ecuador and for a whole week in Quito throughout her pilgrimages in the beginning of August. The outpouring of love from the local people edified all of us.
All this occurs just in Quito Colonial.
My favorite Stations of the Cross reenact by candlelight with live actors at each station - reminding me of Oberammergau - at Otavalo on Good Friday. It begins at 7:00 PM followed by an all-night wake. The streets turn into the Way of the Cross filled to overflowing with the faithful. Spectacular!
The crucified Christ tenderly brought down from the cross and placed in a glass coffin requires six "pallbearers" to carry it for the stations and return it for all-night veneration. WOW!
No other place on earth outside of Israel can offer you better pilgrimages, processions and retreats, as far as I know, than this reliquary of faith, Ecuador, to reflect on God and His divine love and the way of the cross He asks us to follow.
My nest in Quito thus provides for all my spiritual needs.
When you walk the streets in Ecuador, remember, if you fall, you can't sue. Their sidewalks brim with hurdles, holes and sometimes dog poop, and their streets bring perils of their own.
Their courts will not accept lawsuits unless something is obviously and purposely done without regard to the medical outcome of others.
You're supposed to watch where you're going. That's part of what I love about this place... COMMON SENSE. I've fallen and learned.
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