By Vatican News
The Archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, has announced that the traditional celebrations in honour of the Divine Saviour of the World will be suspended this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. “This year, sadly,” said Archbishop Ecobar, “we will not be able to celebrate that grand procession,” which concludes with the remarkable spectacle of the “Bajada,” (Sp. “Descent”).
The country of El Salvador – Spanish for “The Saviour” – is named for Jesus Christ. Each year, the country celebrates the patronal feast of the Divine Saviour of the World on August 6, the feast of the Transfiguration. The celebrations begin on the evening of August 5th. A statue of Jesus is carried in procession through the streets. At the conclusion of the procession, the image is lowered from the float on which it has been carried and dressed in shiny white garments. The statie is then raised up on a pillar, – a stylized re-enactment of the Gospel account of Jesus’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.
Covid-19 and El Salvador
El Salvador has been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic, said Archbishop Escobar, explaining the decision to suspend this year’s celebration. “The merciless pandemic is attacking us so strongly, it is growing more and more, we are not yet seeing a decrease. On the contrary, the number of sick people and those who die is increasing,” he said.
“El Salvador cries and suffers profoundly in the face of such sorrow caused by Covid-19,” said the Archbishop. “The situation is truly devastating, so many families are suffering with one or more members sick. At times, the whole family is infected. So many people are inconsolably mourning the death of their loved ones.”
Praying for an end to the pandemic
Archbishop Escobar invited the faithful to pray for all those who have died, for those who are sick, and for doctors, nurses, health care workers, and all those who are caring for the most vulnerable. “May the Divine Saviour of the World move us to be better, in total solidarity in the face of the terrible evil we are experiencing. May we leave behind selfish, group or party interests and truly care for our brothers and sisters who are suffering, for the sick, for the poorest," he said.
Although the procession will not take place this year, the traditional Mass for the Transfiguration – a solemnity in El Salvador – will be celebrated on the feast day, and broadcast on television, radio, and social networks. According to Archbishop Escobar, it will be more than ever an occasion to implore God’s mercy and pray for an end to the pandemic.
Coronavirus in El Salvador
El Salvador has seen a dramatic rise in the number of cases of the novel coronavirus in recent weeks. Since mid-June, the number of infections and deaths has increased to the point that President Nayib Bukele acknowledged last weekend that the Covid-19 infection curve “has become practically uncontrollable.” The president announced that the “second phase” of the response to the disease would have to be delayed for a second time, prompting public demonstrations against the governments handling of the crisis.