St. John Paul II and Father Rolando Alvarez on the Pope's second trip to Nicaragua

St. John Paul II and Father Rolando Alvarez on the Pope's second trip to Nicaragua

On February 7, 1996, on his second trip to Nicaragua, Pope St. John Paul II referred to his visit in 1983 as a "great dark night"

I remember the celebration thirteen years ago; it took place in darkness, on a great dark night," the pilgrim pope said at the Mass he celebrated in Managua with the country's families.

In the 1996 Mass, the Polish pope elevated to the rank of Basilica the temple of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo, where Nicaraguans venerate "the Immaculate Conception" so that "Mary of Nicaragua may always be Mary."

The story of P. Rolando Álvarez with the visit of St. John Paul II

Father Rolando Álvarez recounted in 2005 how he lived that day, in which he also participated in the procession of offerings. At just 17 years old, the priest who in 2005 was director of the youth ministry in Managua recounted that on March 4, 1983, Sandinista mobs prevented young people from the parishes from going to Mass.

“We make our first stop at the Cristo Rey school because the atmosphere is already a little obfuscated. We began to hear shouts and slogans from that time, making us stop. They were the mobs, although they didn't tell us 'we are the Sandinistas,' but they were."

The priest said they only managed to reach the square around 10:30 in the morning when most of the place was occupied by Sandinistas with red and black flags.

In those people, said P. Álvarez, “no devotion was appreciated. That is the historical fact, the objective data”.

The priest also recalled that at Mass “there were people who took the microphones, but not those who were in sight. It is seen that there were microphones and devices that were linked to the audio and that they were hidden. There are people who were haranguing with the same audio” of the Pope.

“You will know them by their fruits”

The priest then recalled the importance of reconciliation in Nicaragua without forgetting the historical memory.

"Christians have to forgive, you cannot live with a lack of forgiveness, but forgiveness does not erase historical memory, it means disidentifying because, for example, you and I are also what we were, for better or for less."


“By their fruits, you will know them,” he added.

Fr. Álvarez also recalled some aspects of the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1996.

"The people took to the streets to cry, to ask the Pope for forgiveness in the name of Nicaragua, although the faithful people were not the ones who had committed that," said the priest, referring to the Sandinista attacks.

"When I say faithful people I am talking about many people who had participated in 1983, committing this type of disrespect for the Eucharist in the first place, because what hurt the Pope the most was the disrespect for Jesus in the sacrament," he recalled.

The new Bishop of Matagalpa finally said that Saint John Paul II "transmitted to us palpably the presence of God and that causes an emotion and a commotion in the heart, which marks one for life."

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