The Unity Cross and an image of the MTA at 12,500 feet
Centennial of the "Cristo Redentor" in the Andes - Pilgrimage Planned for March 20th, 2004
ARGENTINA, mkf. In the Andes, 12,500 feet above sea level, between the border towns of Las Cuevas, Argentina and Los Andes, Chile, is the beautiful statue of Christ the Redeemer. This peace symbol between Argentina and Chile was built 100 years ago marking the end of a border disagreement between the two countries. On the anniversary of the statue, March 13th, 2004, a pilgrimage from Mendoza will begin. For 28 years the members of the Schoenstatt movement in Argentina and Chile have been ascending to the "Cristo Redentor" to pray for the Argentinian-Chilean unity as inspired by Mario Hiriart’s slogan: "Mater, we will build you a Shrine on the top of the Andes... for the unity of the Latin American countries."
A 5.5 mile long, winding road goes from the border town of Las Cuevas to the "Cristo Redentor". It is the only border monument built in remembrance of the brotherhood of the countries. Standing 12,500 feet above sea level, it is the work of the Argentinean sculptor, Mateo Alonso. On the base are the words, "These mountains will drop to the ground before Argentineans and Chileans break the peace sworn at the foot of Christ the Redeemer." The huge statue was built in 1904 using the brass of the cannons of the Los Andes Army commanded by General Jose de San Martin which won the independence for three countries, Argentina, Chile and Peru.
A few weeks ago the Schoenstatt Family of Mendoza, Argentina, received word they had been granted approval to place the unity cross and the image of the MTA in the shelter on the Argentinean side, next to the "Cristo Redentor". The Church, the Government of Mendoza and the VIII Army Mountain Regiment granted, through a resolution, the approval to place the symbols in the high mountain shelter next to the Cristo Redentor. Now the people from Chile as well as from Argentina, and from all nations, will have a beautiful place of prayer at 12,500 feet above sea level.
"May we never break the accord with any of our brothers"
In this special time when the world is terrorized with wars and violence and a few weeks from the centennial of the "Cristo Redentor", we are reminded of the message of John Paul II on April 7. 1987, while visiting Mendoza, Province of Argentina.
"The monument to Christ the Redeemer, symbol of peace between Argentina and Chile is on the top of the mountains from where he watches and projects his Providence protecting both brotherly countries. He has been watching in a very special way to see that this beautiful legacy inscribed at the foot of the monument is respected: "These mountains will drop to the ground before Argentineans and Chileans break the peace sworn at the foot of the Cristo Redentor."
The Holy Father made also a call to all the inhabitants of the American continent and of the whole world.
"The Pope invites the men and women to make a peace commitment in their hearts that we would never break the accord with any of our brothers."
The mission of the Shrine of Mendoza, "Nazareth of the Father, Land of Unity" has profound roots in the unity of the streams of January 20th and May 31st, in the history of the people of Mendoza and in this message of the Holy Father.
A pilgrimage for peace
The year of the centennial of the Cristo Redentor is an appropriate time to give thanks for all we have experienced and for the blessings received. The following is the experience of the Schoenstatt Family of Mendoza.
For twenty eight years they remained loyal, together with their Chilean brothers, going on pilgrimage to the Wayside shrine of the MTA by the "Cristo Redentor" praying for peace in their lands and keeping alive Mario Hiriart’s dream of the integration of the people in Latin America. "America will be Our Queen Mary’s torch in the new times."
Those participating in the pilgrimages from the Shrine to the Cristo through "Mary’s Crusade" confirm that it is an "unforgettable experience."
Father Claudio M.’s testimonial (for years he has gone with the young people on this beautiful tradition) gives us an impeccable description. "We follow a historical route that is acquiring greater significance because of our steps. It is a road, that as we walk causes fatigue and hurts our feet. But it is also our spiritual path.
The goal of the pilgrimage is on the high mountain as a permanent symbol of our highest ideals and aspirations. There is Christ the Redeemer, waiting for our meeting with him. He waits for us there but we cannot see him until we reach the summit. The meeting requires sacrifice because without renunciation, without detachment, without the vivid expectation of looking into his eyes, we won’t be capable of meeting with him. Starting from the Shrine of the Virgin and with her we visit other Shrines. And walking with Her, sooner or later we will meet Christ along the road."
The Boys' Youth is already preparing for the next Crusade that will start from Mendoza on January 15th. The Family pilgrimage will take place on March 20th, 2004, to renew the promise made to the MTA to be instruments of peace and unity wherever providence places us.
(With information given by Rufino Michelini and Sister M. Alejandra Aguilar).
Translation: Carmen Barruel, Belgium/Paula Dudgeon, USA
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