Pilgrims Gather at Basilica for Stations of the Cross
SAN JUAN – April 14 is Good Friday, a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. And for the Basilica in San Juan, it means thousands will take part in a centuries old tradition.
People gather to take part in walking the Stations of the Cross.
“To remember the last hours of Jesus’s death, so that we can recreate those last hours and share in that part of the Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s life,” Father Amador Garza with the basilica said.
Father Garza and Bishop Daniel Flores will lead the procession again this year. There are 14 stations of the life-size statutes.
“This is, you know, centuries old tradition that we call, ‘Via Crucis,’” Father Garza said.
“The eighth station, Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem,” Bishop Flores said.
“It’s a three-quarter mile trail. You can see some people experiencing deep feelings,” Father Garza said.
The statues were installed over 20 years ago, so the maintenance is always ongoing.
But there is also something else that is being worked on and it’s going to be an addition to the Basilica.
“We have two projects going on concurrently,” Father Garza said.
For one, the air conditioning chillers that keep the Basilica cool are being replaced to be more efficient. And the other will be even more visible.
“We’re going to put the 10-foot tall statue of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle right there at that mound, where the earth is being elevated,” Father Garza said.
It will be a Welcome Plaza located next to the expressway service road.
“There will be places for people to sit and then pray. And when they approach the Basilica, they can see the statue of the Blessed Mother,” Father Garza said.
At the Basilica gift shop there is a replica of that statue on display. It’s a project that has been in the works for over three years.
For Friday, walking the Stations of the Cross will begin at noon. But people usually start to arrive early.
“And then for a few stations, we let some of the pilgrims carry the cross,” Father Garza said.
It’s the weekend of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And the Welcome Plaza is expected to be finished by June or July.
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