November 12, 2012

When Jose Venero Villafuerte was five years old, his mother took him to see the statue of Our Lord of the Earthquakes for the first time.

“In this moment my path to God was opened,” said Venero, now president of the Fraternity of the Our Lord of the Earthquakes.

“I realized God existed.”

For the Mass celebrating the 475th anniversary of the Diocese of Cusco, Peru, Venero was in charge of the statue: dressing it, transporting it from the cathedral to the local coliseum and decorating the truck.

Thousands of people attended the Mass or watched as the statue was transported through the town afterward.

Songs in Quechua and Spanish filled the massive coliseum Oct. 27 as people celebrated the Church in Cusco, the first Catholic diocese in South America.

A dozen men dressed in colourful ponchos and hats blew into conch shells, and church bells rang.

Many came to the Mass to see Our Lord of the Earthquakes, the patron saint of Cusco.

During an earthquake in 1650, the image was taken from the Cathedral of Santo Domingo into the streets, abruptly stopping the earthquake.