Yesterday, during its 54th edition, the community of Guayaquil turned multitudinously to the Procession of Cristo del Consuelo (Christ of Consolation) and in a 17 block-long walking, recalled on Good Friday, the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord.
The procession, scheduled to begin at 7 am started 10 minutes later and brought together believers full of faith, from 1 am, as is the case of Juan Burgos, a devotee of the temple who, along with his three children and wife, prepared 500 sandwiches and cups of hot chocolate as gifts for the parishioners who came early to pray before the walk. At 5 in the morning, all the seats were occupied in the temple.
The procession started from the Temple of Cristo del Consuelo with 450,000 people, a number that exceeded by large the attendance of previous years. The Archbishop Antonio Arregui of Guayaquil led the procession.
In the first 23 minutes they had passed the first block and already felt the weight of the sun and fatigue, so police officers poured water jets to parishioners in order to refresh them a bit. From the balconies, more believers applauded the passage of Christ and his followers and also poured more water and rose petals.
It was almost 09:30 and the procession was already halfway down the road. Cops were helping children and adults who could not stand the physical exertion and fainted from dehydration. Officers also were aware of possible thefts to the weak and vulnerable.
At 10 am the faithful were filled with renewed energy because they knew how close they were to the Espiritu Santo Church, place where the Cristo del Consuelo would rest. Thousands of merchants had nearly exhausted their products of images of the Christ.
At 11:15 they were in the final stretch of the walk of faith and what had been a peaceful pilgrimage became a dangerous quarrel since, hundreds of disrespectful evangelicals gathered outside the Espiritu Santo Church armed with bottles, sticks and stones, to insult and provoke the Catholics, who responded with equal violence. Police separated them with water and took several evangelical detainees.
In the presence of the Cristo del Consuelo, which arrived at 11:30 to the Church, there was finally peace. Archbishop Arregui, led the homily for the thousands of faithful in the middle of the silence of the devotees.