Faithful hold Marian procession in Nicaragua despite repression and persecution

nicaragua marian procession Faithful Catholics of the Diocese of León, Nicaragua, participate in the annual procession of the image of Our Lady of Mercy, the patroness of the diocese, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022. | Photo courtesy of the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy

Hundreds of faithful Catholics and the clergy of the Diocese of León, Nicaragua, a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Managua, took part on Sunday in the annual procession of the image of Our Lady of Mercy, the patroness of the diocese.

The procession was held in the midst of a succession of repressive acts against the Catholic Church by the dictatorial regime of Daniel Ortega in several cities in the country, especially in Matagalpa, where Bishop Rolando Álvarez was abducted by police in the middle of the night and is being held under house arrest in Managua.

On Aug. 21 at about 8 a.m. local time, the Marian image was brought out in procession from the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy after being blessed by the shrine’s rector, Father Mauro Paniagua.

Upon leaving the church, hundreds of the faithful, members of the clergy, and a brass band accompanied the procession with the image held aloft on a litter by several men to the Fortín de Acosasco, an old military fort atop Acosasco Hill, today used as a weather station. 

At approximately 1 p.m. the image arrived at the fort, and Holy Mass was offered by Paniagua. At the end of the celebration, songs were sung in honor of the Virgin.

An hour later, the image returned to the shrine accompanied by the multitude of faithful.

Our Lady of Mercy was proclaimed patroness of León on July 17, 1912, by then Bishop Simeon Pereira y Castellón.

The Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy holds the image, which was brought centuries ago from Barcelona, Spain, by the Mercedarian friars.

On Aug. 13, a large procession with the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima was to precede the closing Mass at the Managua cathedral for the Marian Congress titled “Mary, Mother of Hope,” but on that occasion the regime prohibited the event. Instead, a smaller procession was held in the atrium of the cathedral. Thousands were in attendance, many waving Nicaraguan and Vatican flags and crying out, “Mary is from Nicaragua and Nicaragua belongs to Mary!”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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