Rebuilding after an earthquake
In the 19th century Sotaquí, lived an elderly and very holy woman. Her name was Antonia Pizarro. She had a profound knowledge of herbal remedies, and thus was able to help many sick people. One day, as she was on her way to visit a sick person who lived close to the river Hurtado, she spotted two children in the distance, herding goats.
As she drew closer, she saw that they were playing with another child, who seemed to be almost naked. It was in fact, a statue of the Child Jesus. This holy woman took this image of the Divine Child back to her home in order to pay fitting homage to it. It quickly became the focus of miracles, and in 1873 was enshrined in the parish church of Sotaquí.
Devotion to this image became increasingly widespread and more and more people came seeking help through this miraculous “Little Jesus” image. Eventually, in 1898, a new church was built in honour of the Divine Child. Devotion to this image remains very strong today, and in January, around the time of the Epiphany, there is a great four-day festival with processions and traditional dances in honour of the Divine Child. The feast is preceded by a Novena prayed in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Part of the shrine area includes the old presbytery, which was built in the year 1800. In 1997 it was damaged by an earthquake, but the severe earthquake of September 2015 rendered it completely uninhabitable with the roof timbers, ceiling, and several of the walls having collapsed, while doors and windows were destroyed. The parish priest is living in some discomfort in a single room adjoining the church, for the time being.
The diocese of La Serena, to which Sotaquí belongs, is still facing the massive challenge of repairing and rebuilding 60 churches, chapels and presbyteries that were similarly destroyed or damaged to a greater or lesser extent by the same earthquake.
ACN has promised 43,800 CAD, to help rebuild the parish house in Sotaquí.
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