Are Looking for Things to do in Tegucigalpa?
Consider a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Suyapa. This is the holiest Catholic temple in Honduras. It is also one of the more historical areas of Tegucigalpa. In the old days, a visit to The Shrine of Our Lady of Suyapa was as an out of town trip. But the city has grown, and today, it is a village that is part of Tegus. The Shrine is on the North Eastern side of the city, close to the National University of Honduras. It is easy to get to, as it is on the intersection of the Anillo Periferico and the Boulevard Suyapa.
The Shrine consists of two different buildings. The huge, modern Basilica, and the small original church. People from all over Honduras make a pilgrimage here on the 3rd of February. On this date the Catholic Church celebrates the day in honor of the Virgin of Suyapa.
The “Ermita de Suyapa”
The Ermita de Suyapa is the small temple where you can see the tiny wooden sculpture venerated by Hondurans. The building is a simple building with a nice façade and a roof that consists of wooden beams and tiles. Many pilgrims pay a visit to the sanctuary in search of a miracle for themselves or a family member. Pilgirms consider the image as miraculous. Many believe they have been blessed with miracles, thanks to the intersession of the Virgin of Suyapa.
A small patio just outside the temple has a covered are where candles can be lit. These are an offering that seek to gain the favors of the Virgin. There is also a sculpture of a peasant, a young kid and two ladies. The sculpture tells the story of two peasants that found this small wooden statue. Upon the return from their cornfield the set in on them. They had no choice but to spend the night under the stars that night. As they lay to sleep, he found a small wooden sculpture under him.
The peasant put the statue in his bag and took it to the village, where the community soon set up an altar for it. With time, the temple was built as an appreciation for the many miracles that it had conceded to the community. Today, a small plaza stands in front of the Ermita de Suyapa. There you can buy memorabilia and souvenirs of our Lady of Suyapa. Nearby there are a several small comedores, where pilgrims can catch a bite to eat.
The Basilica of Suyapa
With time, the Ermita de Suyapa became too small to house all the pilgrims, and a new much larger building came to be. The new building is huge, and can accommodate many pilgrims, but it does not have the charm of the old building. Pilgrims beleive that the wooden sculpture of the our Lady of Suyapa does not like the new building. When left there overnight, she always returns on her own to the smaller shrine.
Suyapa’s Most Distinguished Pilgrim: Pope John Paul II
Both buildings are close to each other, and you can visit them at the same time. Without doubt, the most outstanding pilgrim to the Basilica of Suyapa was Pope John Paul II. He visited the Shrine during his first, and only trip to Honduras. As a reminder of this memorable visit, a statue of Saint John Paul stands in the atrium. It has a commanding view of the city of Tegucigalpa, which lays nestled in the valley bellow.
As with any visit to sites with many people, it is a good idea to leave your valuables stored in your hotel. Bring only the cash you will need, and do not wear fancy jewelry. Police presence is readily available, yet pick pockets thrive wherever there are many people together. In my opinion, a visit to the Shrine of our Lady of Suyapa is a must. It is part of the Honduran folklore and faith. It is a great option to get a look into the daily life of the Honduran people. I enjoyed my time there this weekend and was happy to share the experience with my son who accompanied me there.
Many people skip Tegucigalpa because they feel there is nothing interesting to see there. I disagree. Tegucigalpa can be a charming city and has a lot of history.