This weekend we made an express trip visit El Valle de Anton, a beautiful mountain community above the beach towns near Coronado. Instead of writing about El Valle I want to share a trip experience, the purple people.
As we drove toward Santiago we began to see increasing numbers of people, many clothed in purple, walking toward Santiago. Mayra quickly commented that they were walking as a way of suffering before the visit to Jesús Nazareno de Atalaya, near Santiago.
According to Wikipedia,
“Jesus Nazareno de Atalaya, popularly known as “El Nazareno” is an image that is located in the picturesque community of Atalaya in the province of Veraguas . Over 200 thousand people from everywhere come together to see the image from Ash Wednesday until Palm Sunday, the end of the procession and the largest Panama. Most people walk long distances to pay for miracles or make requests to Christ.”
“Although no exact date for the beginning of devotion to Christ of Atalaya, it is known that in 1730 the town was visited by pilgrims from the town of Los Santos, Montijo, Las Palmas, La Mesa, Santiago and San Francisco. At that time, the image of Christ was worshiped in a small hut or chapel built of wood and stalks.
Thus, according to recorded documents that place in the province of Veraguas became, from the late seventeenth century by the grace of the Nazarene, a true “center of religion and peaceful haven for Catholics in Panama.””
“Thousands of miracles that Christ’s followers say he has done since most people are “paying send” the Christ of miracles that have been granted from economic aid to highly lethal disease supporters say it has cured.”
Apparently this is a very old tradition for the faithful in Panama, walking from great distances to express gratitude. Apparently some people do this on their knees or bearing crosses. We only saw one man carrying a large wooden cross, the others just carried day packs or water bottles.
As we returned from El Valle we saw people walking from the other direction, more and more people. The police had motorcycles and radar guns almost every kilometer from Divisa to Santiago, so be careful if you plan a drive soon. The Red Cross and Sinproc have tents and ambulances along the route also, so they clearly expect this to continue for the the next few weeks until Semana de Santas, Easter week.
Panama, always an adventure