ECUADOR: Needed: a Miracle

The Virgin of Quinche (rhymes with keen shay), a rejected piece of religious statuary which a sculptor had traded to the Indians of Ayacachi in 1586 for a few pieces of lumber, was credited with miraculous powers. She could cure fistulas and the pox and prevent disasters as well. Last week the Virgin of Quinche figured in the greatest railway disaster in Ecuador's history.

North of Quito, an old, worn-out locomotive huffed and puffed its way through steep mountain passes, carrying faithful Quitenos on their annual pilgrimage to the Virgin's upland shrine. Eating, singing and chattering pilgrims jammed the seats...

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