La Paz/Tegucigalpa/Guatemala City/Quito/Asunción, Apr 10 (EFE).- Faithful Catholics once again filled the churches of Latin America with songs and palms and carried out processions for Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Holy Week, which took place with a little more normality two years into the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Bolivia, one of the busiest churches in La Paz was the Basilica of San Francisco, in the historic center of the city, whose atrium became a market for the sale of intertwined palms and crucifixes, among other religious effigies.
Parishioners came in and out in droves to hear mass, and bought palms or crosses for the priests to bless.
The belief dictates that one should buy palms or branches, have them blessed and place them behind doors in the home for protection against “thieves,” and “curses,” Doña Justina, a woman who has been selling these items for 45 years, told Efe.
Dressed in robes and with huge palms, boys from the Franciscan Vocational Youth Ministry encouraged the parishioners with joyful religious songs and then they entered the church emulating the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.
The people inside joined in the chants to start the religious celebration. With palms raised, the parishioners awaited the passage of the priests who toured the church throwing holy water before beginning mass.
It is the second year that Bolivian churches have been open for face-to-face masses. In 2020, Holy Week in Bolivia was held behind closed doors and online.
The Cardinal of Honduras, Óscar Andrés Rodríguez, lamented this Palm Sunday that the world is “torn by violence, death and wars” and asked Jesus to bring “peace” during a homily held near the Cathedral of Tegucigalpa, which was attended by hundreds of Catholics.
Prior to the ceremony, the cardinal blessed the bouquets made by peasants who since Friday arrived in Tegucigalpa and stationed themselves in the atrium of the cathedral to sell them to the parishioners.
Similar acts were held in different churches in the Honduran capital.
Meanwhile, many people left the capital to enjoy the holidays inside or outside the Central American country.
According to figures from the Ministry of Tourism, some 600,000 people will be travel around Honduras during Holy Week, mainly to Caribbean beaches, archaeological sites, rivers and ecological parks.
The fervor of Holy Week returned to Antigua Guatemala for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began two years ago with the procession of Jesús Nazareno de la Merced.
Approximately 500 people joined the procession from the church of La Merced in Antigua Guatemala, about 50 kilometers west of the country’s capital.
The processions of Antigua Guatemala are among the main tourist attractions of the Central American country during Holy Week, which before the pandemic received more than 500,000 visitors during the festivities.
Despite the fact that the Guatemalan government in March endorsed the processions for the first time during the pandemic after a drop in Covid-19 cases, some churches both in Antigua Guatemala and in the country’s capital suspended some of their activities again this year.