By Jessica Easthope
Each year the Guatemalan community in Far Rockaway, Queens celebrates something unique to its culture and faith: the Black Christ of Escuipulas, a wooden crucifix that’s more than 400-years-old.
In the weeks leading up to the Black Christ’s international feast day, a celebratory Mass is held at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church.
For the first time since being given his red hat by Pope Francis last October, Cardinal Alvaro Ramazzini from Guatemala visited Queens to celebrate the Sunday Mass.
“The Señor Escuipulas in Guatemala has a very great devotion because it is a statue of Jesus Christ, but it’s in black, and many people have testified he has done a lot of miracles,” Cardinal Ramazzini said of the sacred statue.
While St. Mary has a replica of the statue, the original sits in the Cathedral Basilica of Esquipulas in northwest Guatemala. The statue is celebrated widely, not only for the miracles it has granted, but for its significance to the entire Guatemalan community at home and abroad.
“I think the significance is hope, migrants from Guatemala they face many bad situations so they need hope and to have confidence in God that he does not abandon us,” Cardinal Ramazzini said.
That sentiment is held especially close to the hearts of Guatemalan immigrants in the Brooklyn Diocese. Cardinal Ramazzini added how New York City has become a shining example of embracing many cultures through faith.
“It’s a practice of living our faith, it means this open spirit to accept the multiculturality of many people in the United States not just Guatemalans so it is a very good sign for me,” he said.
Guatemalans across the globe will celebrate the Feast Day of the Black Christ of Esquipulas on Jan. 15.