Nicaragua: Via Crucis in Matagalpa
I found myself up north in Matagalpa on Good Friday, spending part of Holy Week in the principal city of the department of the same name. It was supposed to be a nice respite from Managua’s oppressive climate during the hottest week of the year, but no luck, it was nearly as unpleasant.
This was not my first time in Matagalpa, yet it was the first in which I stayed alone. I rode up with friends who dropped me off in the city and who then went on to a private coffee farm (and B&B) where the weather was much more pleasant.
Now, I never planned on being in Matagalpa for Good Friday. The departure was set for the day before, but my friends were so taken by their surroundings that they decided to stay another day. And since I was merely along for the ride, there were no other options.
None of it mattered. I love Matagalpa: a small, walkable, mostly tourist-free town with a very interesting history (the influence and culture of the German farmers who settled there in the 19th Century continues to flourish). And I now had all the time in the world, so to speak, to walk around and explore.
I woke up on Good Friday to discover that everything had shut down, so there was no breakfast or coffee to be had anywhere. And by the time I walked to all my favorite places and realized as much, I noticed only one thing going on that morning: the Via Crucis, or “Way of the Cross,” which recreates the path Jesus took in the hours before he was crucified. The devotion is observed by Catholics around the globe in very particular ways.
In Matagalpa, the more penitent Catholics who have taken vows (or promesas), thanks to answered prayers, blindfold themselves and process while being guided by a family member. There are also those who follow the entire route by “walking” it on their knees.
I was so moved by the experience and caught up by the intensity of it all that I started walking with the crowd and taking photos. I forgot about the heat, the lack of breakfast, and just walked.
The expression of deep, sincere faith is something to behold, something to respect, and something to give us hope. It is an act of beauty.
More photos of the Via Crucis in Matagalpa here.
[N.B. This is not an official Department of State website or blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.]
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