CHILE – ACN rebuilds Sotaqui presbytery destroyed by earthquake
In the 19th century, in Sotaquí, lived an elderly and very holy woman. Her name was Antonia Pizarro. Having a profound knowledge of herbal remedies, she was able to help many sick people. One day, as she was on her way to visit a sick person who lived close to the river Hurtado, she spotted two children in the distance, herding goats. As she drew closer, she saw that they were playing with another child, who was almost naked. It was in fact a statue of the Child Jesus. This holy woman took this image of the Divine Child back to her home in order to pay fitting homage to it. It presently became the focus of miracles, and in 1873 it was enshrined in the parish church of Sotaquí. Devotion to this image became increasingly widespread and more and more people came seeking help through this miraculous „Little Jesus“ image. Eventually, in 1898, a new church was built in honour of the Divine Child. Devotion to this image remains very strong today, and in January, around the time of the Epiphany, there is a great four-day festival with processions and traditional dances in honour of the Divine Child. The feast is preceded by a novena in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Part of the shrine area includes the old presbytery, which was built in the year 1800. Already back in 1997 it was damaged by an earthquake, but the severe earthquake of September 2015 has rendered it completely uninhabitable. The roof timbers, ceiling and several of the walls have collapsed, while doors and windows were destroyed. For the time being the parish priest lives in some discomfort in a single room adjoining the church. The diocese of La Serena, to which Sotaquí belongs, is still facing the massive challenge of repairing and rebuilding 60 churches, chapels and presbyteries that were similarly destroyed or damaged to a greater or lesser extent by the same earthquake. ACN has promised 30,000 Euros, so that the parish house in Sotaquí can be rebuilt.