Semana Santa / Holy Week begins in El Salvador this weekend. It is a time of both religious devotion in the historically Roman Catholic country, as well as family vacation time.
In the days before Holy Week each year, the government's security and rescue forces assure the public that they are fully prepared to provide security during the week of festivities, vacation and tourism.
Police in some Salvadoran cities have already begun patrolling in an effort to prevent violence during Holy Week processions.
Some Church officials say the Church has been caught in the crossfire of gang violence in a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world.
“Gang members do not care if they attack someone who is praying in the Via Crucis, they just don’t care where the target is,” Fr Ricardo Arcega, parish priest of St Peter the Apostle parish in San Pedro Perulapan, 13 miles northeast of San Salvador, told Catholic News Service.Here are a few other stories from the beginning of Holy Week:
A Via Crucis procession in the historic center of San Salvador was dedicated to migrants who activists said were bearing the cross of unjust systems which forced them on dangerous pathways to an unwelcoming United States.
The Washington Post offered a pictorial look at the dying art of preserving religious statues in El Salvador. The story interviews and shows the work of one of the artisans who creates and restores holy figures such as the statues of Jesus Christ used in Holy Week processions in cities throughout the country.