Dear Family and Friends,
Last night, Chuck and I went downtown to see the 5,500 luminaries set out to honor the Vergin Morenica del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary.) The history behind the virgin is very fascinating.
The charter for the city of Cuenca was drawn up on April 12, 1557. The following year, a friar goes to Spain and asks King Charles V to donate three images of Our Lady of the Rosary. One to be sent to three cities, Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. The king commissioned the best craftsmen in Seville to make the three statues. In 1559 the Cuenca statue arrived.
After many hundreds of years of strong devotion to the virgin, because of her beauty, her reputation of being the oldest virgin statue in Cuenca, and her reported miracles, the citizens decided in 1928 that they would like to make her the Queen of Cuenca.
Permission was granted by Pope Pius VI for a crown to be made to adorn her head. Due the the world wide depression that began in 1929, there were no funds to create a crown befitting the Virgin.
The people of Cuenca donated their personal jewels and objects of gold to be used in making the crown. Her crown was completed in 1933. The crown is so precious that it is not put on public display for security reasons.
Every year, since 2007, Cuenca has honored the virgin with luminaries on the eighth of December. Each year the number of luminaries lit for the Virgin have increased and each year the popularity of the event has increased.
Last evening, at 6:30pm, a service was held at Santo Domingo church to bless the fire that would be used to light the luminaries.
We arrived about 8:00pm and the luminaries were lit and there were so many people that we could hardly make our way through the crowd.
The virgin was on display in front of Santo Domingo church. Her crown is not the precious one, but the virgin is the real one.
She has been well cared for and it is hard to believe that she is 458 years old.
Here are just a small amount of the luminaries lining the streets for many blocks.
After just one block of inching along, we decided to try and make our way to Parque Calderon (the main plaza in Cuenca) via streets that did not have the luminaries.
The downtown streets have Christmas lights across them.
Parque Calderon is beautiful, decorated with lights. This is the Glorita (bandstand) decorated for the season. The luminaries were even being displayed in the park.
We decided to walk down to the river and see the Christmas lights there. There is a nice, well lit, paved walking path along the river. The blue lights stretched across the river go for about a mile.
Here is a light display of an indigenous woman washing her clothes in the river. One of my personal favorite displays.
Another display. A boy fishing in the river.
This is a view of the buildings across the street from where we waited to get a taxi home.
And, here are our plants, lit up for the season, in the front of our condo building.
We got some good exercise walking around the downtown and along the river. It was so much fun to be there for this one, special night of the year.