I began my pilgrimage yesterday to Quito, Ecuador, and I must say it was a wonderful beginning. I left Tuesday evening with Fr. Gregory Bartholomew of the FSSP from Sarasota, FL and we made our way down to Naples, FL before heading to the Miami airport early Wednesday morning. I was blessed to have a private Mass at midnight before going to Miami. You can see a couple of pictures below of the Mass. It was a wonderful way to start.
Then after arriving in Quito we had an unexpected greeting from Our Lady of Quinche.
A couple of us arrived at Quito many hours before the rest of our party. We decided upon recommendation of one of the local Ecuadorians to visit El Quinche. So we too a taxi to get some food and we made it over to the church just minutes before the church was closing. We walked into the courtyard of the massive church and was greeted by a local priest who said, "...Let them in." We were then escorted not into the church, but up a set of stairs which led us up top behind the altar. We were then told the story of El Quinche, where this wonderful statue was made from cedar as almost a thanksgiving for miracles worked by Our Lady in the area.
We had no idea that we were going to get a special view of Our Lady, as the door was unlocked, and she was turned around, we were all in total amazement. I also found out that every year in the month of November 800,000 pilgrims from around Ecuador make a pilgrimage to this church to pay homage to this image, which was carved in the 16th century. Here 3 pilgrims show up having no idea that this pilgrimage site existed and we were treated with an up close and personal greeting from Our Lady. A smile and a greeting from Our Lady indeed! La Virgin del Quinche pray for us!