Some 32.000 corn cobs, 200.000 baby coconuts, pumpkins, gourds, squashes and seeds of all shapes, sizes and colours are the proud protagonists of the amazing altar at which Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on Sunday.
The artist, Koki Ruiz, a much beloved personality in Paraguay, has used the fruits of his fertile land where agriculture is the main pillar of the economy to create a veritable vegetable masterpiece.
To the left of a central column with the cross and the Papal symbols, a portrait of St. Francis with a dove; on the right, the austere face of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order. Both of them worthy – and highly symbolic - witnesses of Pope Francis’ last Mass before he wraps up his moving journey to three Latin American nations.
Witnesses and protagonists of the much awaited event at Nu Guazu are also the hundreds of ordinary Paraguayans who flocked to the altar as it was being set up to write a name and a prayer on the tiny coconut shells that make up the green coloured parts of the altar which is as fragile, diverse and beautiful as the land it was born from.
2015-07-30 L’Osservatore Romano
When the President of the Republic of Paraguay, Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, first visited Pope Francis on 25 November 2013, the Pontiff greeted our country with a short phrase: “Paraguay, hold your head high!”.
Our country was at the centre of the world's attention during the Pope's three-day visit fr, 10-12 July. Pope Francis knows well the current situation in Paraguay, our history and our people He chose us out of the 180 invitations he received from heads of state and episcopal conferences from around the world. And we responded our heads held high and our hearts open.
Paraguay is an emerging country in constant growth and we have a predominantly young population. We take a special interest in the Holy See, as it is the moral reference point on an international level and especially because most of the population of Paraguay is Catholic.
Ambassador Esteban Kriskovic