TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Year after year, the city of Comayagua, less than an hour's drive northwest of the Honduran capital, attracts tourists from all over the world who come to see its streets blanketed with colorful sawdust "carpets" of scenes of the life of Christ.
In preparation for the week of festivities, dozens of families spend months designing their carpets, competing with each other to make the most colorful and artistic patterns. Artists create elaborate religious figures and scenes on paper, then place them on the ground and cover them with flowers, seeds and sawdust dyed in bright colors. Families rush to complete their designs between Thursday and Good Friday, before the religious processions of the Via Crucis trample these magnificent works of art.
The carpets with the best designs decorate the path that runs from the Church of San Francisco to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where the first carpet was made in 1963 to celebrate the appointment of Bishop Bernandino Mazarella to the Comayagua diocese. In recent years the colorful tradition of Comayagua's sawdust carpets has spread to other cities, including Danlí, Copán, Santa Barbara, Gracias and Tegucigalpa, enabling people from around the country to share in this colorful tradition.
The carpets represent one of many activities celebrated by Hondurans during Holy Week. Beginning on Palm Sunday, processions are held throughout the country, with participants taking antique statues of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and other saints from places of worship and parading them around the streets for all to revere.
For those who can't make it to Honduras during Holy Week, the country's sawdust carpets and other seasonal attractions and festivities can be enjoyed on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of Semana Santa en Honduras, an organization created to preserve and promote the country's Holy Week traditions.
Our Lady of Suyapa, Patron Saint of Honduras
Outside of Holy Week, another famous holiday celebrated by Catholics in Honduras is the Day of Our Lady of Suyapa, held in honor of the patron saint of Honduras. Legend has it that in 1747 a peasant, Alejandro Colindres, stopped to rest on the way from the fields to his home in Suyapa, near Tegucigalpa. He was awakened by a sharp pain in his side and realized that he was lying on a tiny cedar statuette of the Virgin Mary, only 6.5 cm long. He took the statue home and placed it on his family's altar.
In 1768, the statue was credited with its first recognized miracle, and it began to draw attention, which encouraged the Colindres family to erect a chapel for the statue in 1777. In 1925, Pope Pius XI declared Our Lady of Suyapa the patron saint of Honduras and named February 3 her holiday. In the 1950s a large basilica, the Basilica of Our Lady of Suyapa, was built next to the chapel.
The statue of the virgin spends most of its time in the chapel, but every year on February 3 it is moved to the Basilica of Our Lady of Suyapa to accommodate the multitude of devote followers from within and outside Honduras who take the annual pilgrimage to honor it.
Colonial Religious Architecture
Honduras' colonial religious heritage can be enjoyed year-round through its impressive architecture. The second Catholic Mass on the American continent took place in 1502 at Punta Caxinas, Honduras, two weeks after Christopher Columbus arrived on the mainland, so it is not surprising that the country harbors the second largest collection of colonial religious architecture in the Americas. Beautiful temples, from quaint churches to majestic cathedrals, were erected throughout Honduras during the Spanish colonial period. In addition to the places of worship that have made Comayagua Honduras' most impressive colonial city, and aside from the impressive Basilica of Our Lady of Suyapa, other examples of religious architecture include:
- St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral and the Church of Saint Maria of Dolores (Catedral Metropolitana de San Míguel Arcángel y Iglesia de Santa María de los Dolores) , in Tegucigalpa;
- The Church of San Manuel de Colohete (La Iglesia de San Manuel de Colohete), in Lempira;
- The Church La Merced (La Iglesia La Merced), in Gracias;
- The Cathedral of San Francisco de Asís (La Iglesia San Francisco de Asís), in Catacamas, Olancho;
- The Church of Guajiquiro (La Iglesia de Guajiquiro), in La Paz; and
- St. Peter the Apostle Cathedral (La Catedral de San Pedro Apóstol), in San Pedro Sula.
ABOUT HONDURAS TRAVEL
Honduras is home to West Bay, voted one of the world's top 25 beaches by Trip Advisor; Roatán, a favorite Caribbean cruise port close to the Meso-American Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef in the world; Copán, the heart of the Mayan civilization and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and the largest expanse of virgin rainforest north of the equator. Our country is a birdwatcher's delight, with more than 700 species, many of them endemic; is one of the few places in the world where one can swim with whale sharks; and has set aside one-quarter of its territory as protected areas. We're land, we're sea, we're people, we're heart, we're Honduras and we're all about you! Learn more at https://www.honduras.travel/en/.
ABOUT THE HONDURAS COUNTRY BRAND
Honduras' Country Brand Program is a public-private partnership launched in 2015 to promote Honduras as a tourism and investment destination and position its goods and services around the world. Learn more at http://www.hondurasmarcapais.com.
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SOURCE Honduras Presidency