October 30, 1939
Devout Pilgrims Climb to Peak For Ceremony
Barefooted, with shoes under their arms, women with infants in arm, men, women and children, some 12,000 of them – they marched for hours up the sinuous path to the top of Mount Cristo Rey to honor Christ the King, to witness the dedication of the great monument in His honor, and around again His words spoken to another multitude on a mountain, 2000 years ago – “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”
The pilgrims began the ascent shortly after noon, and five hours later, when the dedication ceremonies were over, they still formed a chain up the mountain slope, passing those descending.
Mothers led toddling youngsters. Fathers carried infants. The aged and infirm labored up the graded path, pausing at the Stations of the Cross lining the way, to rest and to pray. One elderly woman, with her shoes inconspicuously wrapped in paper walked barefoot and smiled in reply when asked if her feet hurt. “Malisima de as piernas,” she said, and continued on her way, hoping this penance would help to affect a cure of her rheumatic legs.
Behind the first thousands to make the ascent came the formal procession of clergymen, religists, veterans of American Legion Post 36, and the pilgrims, parish by parish, singing hymns and reciting the Rosary. The procession wound into the heavy shadows of the mountains and out into the glaring sunlight of early afternoon.
Pilgrims Are Blessed
Most Rev. A.J. Schuler, S.J.D.D., L.L.D., Bishop of El Paso, who officiated at the dedication, carried in the sidecar of a motorcycle up the slope, passed through the pilgrims blessing them as he went.
Soon after 3 p.m., the rocky summit of the mountain, westward of the 40-foot monument, swarmed with people, seeking points of vantage to view the ceremony at the altar at the base of the cross. The salute of Christ was on the other side of the monument, overlooking El Paso, and Mexico to the southeast; but on that side the mountain fell away too precipitously to hold the great mass of people for the services.
It was the sixth annual pilgrimage up the mountain in honor of the Feast of Christ the King, which comes on the last Sunday of October. Six years ago the first cross, a wooden one, 12 foot high was placed on the summit.
Amid the awesome grandeur of rugged mountains, low mesas and desert sweeping more than 100 miles away, and almost 1000 feet below, the throng knelt before the glaring white cross as Bishop Schuler raised the golden Monstrance, containing the Blessed Sacrament, afire in light of the setting sun, and blessed them then turned toward Mexico and blessed that country.
Presents National Emblem
Dr. Ralph Homan, of American Legion Post 36, presented the National Emblem of the monument. It was raised on its staff by Sgt. Leo Camplin, another veteran, his chest heavy with medals won in the World War. Rev. Father W.A. Swinburne, assistant pastor of St. Patrick’s cathedral, said the invocation.
Bishop Schuler accepted the monument from a delegation of 12 workers, headed by the foreman. Domingo Placentia, representing the 125 workers on the project. Rev. Father L.F. Costa, of the Smelter Church, and Urbiel Soler, sculptor, completed the unveiling, and Bishop Schuler blessed the monument.
Father Costa read a poem, written by himself, honoring Bishop Schuler, who Saturday observed the 24th anniversary of the appointment as a bishop. The poem also thanked the bishop for his interest and making the monument possible.
Rev. Father Emeterio Diego, assistant pastor of Guardian Angel Church, spoke on the history of the Feast of Christ the King, who always advocated peace among men. The new monument, near the international border, he said, replaced the 25-foot statue to Christ the King on Mount Cubilet, near Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. That statue was destroyed in 1926 by an aerial bomb upon the order of the Mexican government, he said.
During the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Bishop Schuler read “The Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart” in English, and Rev. Father G. Garcia, S.J, assistant pastor of St. Ignatius Church, read it in Spanish.
The Franciscan Choir, composed of nine priests and 23 scholastics from St. Anthony’s Seminary in Austin Terrance, sang a hymn to Christ the King.
Bishop Schuler officiated at benediction and was assisted by honorary deacons, Rev. Father J.M. Llovet, C.M.F., pastor of Gordian Angel Church, and Father Garcia.
At the foot of the cross during benediction were Sisters of Loretto, Daughters of St. Vincent de Paul, Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Sisters Catechists, Christian Brothers, 25 priests and the Franciscan Choir.
The committee of the Monument to Christ the King Diocesan Project included: Bishop Schuler, chairman; Father Costa; A.J. Slogeris, engineer; Cleofas Calleros; Urbiel Soler, sculptor; the late Right Rev. Monsignor Salvador Uranga, former pastor of the Juarez Church, who died in Canutillo six months ago, and Very Rev. J.C.M. Garde, S.J. vicar-general.
The committee requested that the many persons who took photographs during the ceremony telephone Mr. Calleros, at Main 7262 or Main 2764. The committee would like copy of the photographs, or the loan of the negatives, so that prints can be made from them. A complete photographic library of the project is being made. More than 5900 pictures have been filed already by the committee.