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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Nicaraguan Catholics Celebrate their Saint, Despite Police Surveillance

Hundreds of Nicaraguan devotees celebrated this Monday with jubilation Saint Michael the Archangel inside the atrium of a church in the city of Masaya, after the police prohibited them to go out with the image in procession.

The celebration took place inside the San Miguel Arcángel parish in Masaya, 30 km south of the capital, crowded by parishioners who danced, jumped and applauded the saint, despite the heavy police presence around the temple.

“I know that sometimes (the police presence) is part of the same protection, so that there is no disorder, but I consider that there is no reason to create disorder when we come to church for religious festivities,” said Alejandro Vivas, one of the attendees.

“The atmosphere is kind of tense,” said Patricia Solórzano, who pointed out that the religious procession has always been a reason for “rejoicing” for the city.

On Saturday, the police prohibited the Catholic Church from holding processions in Masaya during the festivities of San Miguel Arcángel this Monday, as well as San Jerónimo on Tuesday, for reasons of “public safety”, the Archdiocese of Managua said in a statement.

Faced with the impediment of going out to the streets, the Church decided to celebrate the tradition inside the temple with a Eucharist, burning of gunpowder, dances and songs.

During the festivity, the devotees usually ask the image to protect them from evil or fulfill promises. The procession of San Miguel marks the beginning of the patron saint festivities that take place every year on these dates in Masaya.

Masaya was one of the cities that was most revealed during the protests that erupted in 2018 against President Daniel Ortega, a 76-year-old former guerrilla who has ruled since 2007.

The president attributed the demonstrations to a failed coup plotted by the opposition with Washington’s support, and accused Catholic bishops of being part of that plot.

Since then, relations between the government and the Church have been strained. In August the police placed under house arrest the bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa, Rolando Alvarez, a strong critic of the government.

The police reported that the bishop is being investigated for inciting “hatred” and violence with the purpose of “destabilizing” the country.

Four priests and two seminarians were also arrested. The charges against them are unknown. “San Miguel, take care of our pastors”, “Protect the Church”, asked some devotees from social networks.

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