Throughout the night, Zamora led students in prayer in the divine mercy chaplet and the rosary.
At one moment, when the shooting was particularly intense and everyone was lying on the ground, Partlow remembers some of the prayers Zamora said quietly with the students.
"Lord, we ask you to protect us in this moment," he said.
"We believe in you, Lord, those of us who have no strength against this great army," he murmured. "Help us, Lord."
"The whole night we had a lot of time to pray. The bullets were non-stop," Zamora told CNA.
He noted that many of the protesting students who took refuge in the church were not practicing Catholics.
"There were students with me in that moment from different religions, different denominations, atheists. In some way, it was very moving to me to see some of those students, who didn't believe in anything, come over and hug me, crying and say, 'If I were to believe in a God, I would believe in your God.' That was, for me, very powerful," said the priest.
"This is a moment when the Church gives witness and really shines forth the face of Christ in us," he continued.
At one point late in the night, a part of the church caught fire, and a student called Father Zamora over from the rectory as it was put out. That is when he saw the bullet holes in the church's divine mercy image and in the tabernacle. The student did not know what a tabernacle was, so the priest had to explain. He noted that the Blessed Sacrament was unharmed in the attack.
Two students were killed and at least 10 were injured by the paramilitary forces on July 13.
Zamora reflected on what he considers the lessons of the "persecuted church" in Nicaragua both now and in past decades:
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
"If the cross is not in our life, if we are not willing to suffer for love, then our religion just stays as something that is exterior. Just trying to do what is ritually appropriate. Our faith starts when we have that deep conviction in Jesus and his message. This is what we learned."
This article was originally published on CNA July 24, 2018.