Nicaraguan faithful mark prayer that ‘stopped’ 1947 eruption

Managua, Aug 14 (EFE).- Dozens of Nicaraguans on Sunday made a pilgrimage to the Cerro Negro volcano to remember the prayer made to the Virgin Mary that, according to Catholic faith, stopped an eruption in the mid-20th century that threatened to destroy the city of León for a second time.

Approximately 100 people made a pilgrimage to Cerro Negro just as their parents and grandparents did, this time in gratitude for the “miracle” three quarters of a century ago.

“It’s been 75 years – in 1947 this beautiful (…) tradition began,” pilgrim Jacinto Sebastián Salinas, one of the group that walked about 300 meters on the black sand that gives the Cerro Negro volcano its name, told EFE.

However, the tradition did not begin on a calm and sunny day, but in the midst of one of the largest eruptions of the youngest volcano in Nicaragua.

By Aug. 14, 1947, Cerro Negro had been expelling ash 5 kilometers high for more than a month, as well as 6-kilometer-long by 1 km-wide lava rivers, and 7 inches of dust had accumulated on roofs, according to the records of the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies..

The endless volcanic activity led the people of León to believe that their city would disappear again, just as it did in 1610, when it was buried by an eruption of Momotombo volcano.

On a pilgrimage to the foothills of Cerro Negro, Leónese Catholics of the time asked the Virgin Mary for the miracle of the cessation of the eruption and, according to tradition, it was granted.

“The pilgrimage is not only following a tradition, simply something that happened in 1947, but it is a matter of continuing with a faith,” said pilgrim Delgado.

Over time, Cerro Negro went from being a threat to an icon of León, and on Sunday it shared the spotlight with the Virgin Mary, concluding with a religious festival throughout the city. EFE


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