National Geographic : 1900 Jul
THE ROAD TO BOLIVIA diffused with light, which proceeds from no fixed source, but is always sufficient to distinguish the outlines of articles upon the altar and objects upon the walls, and my informants were unable to detect any evidences of trickery. The image is said to have been carved in the sixteenth century by an ignorant Indian, to whom the Holy Mother herself sat as a model. Persons who desire to receive the blessings of the Virgin pay a fee to a monk in the cloister of the adjoining convent, and are allowed to pass into the little chapel, where service is continuous night and day during the time of the festival. Bearing lighted candles in their hands, they approach the altar-rail and kneel. A bridal wreath is suspended by long strips of broad white ribbon in the center of the chapel. In a little gallery over the entrance is a band of music, with a cabinet organ, two horns, a flute, a 'cello, and a native instrument made of reeds. Behind the altar-rail stands a monk, assisted by two barefooted acolytes. As the devotees approach the altar, the acolytes take the candles from their hands and place them in the rack pre pared for that purpose. They then kneel as closely together as pos sible in front of the altar, and a robe of white satin embroidered in silver, formerly worn by the image, is spread over their heads. The officiating monk moves his hand rapidly over the mantle and utters a blessing. The robe is then lifted and the worshipers depart with precious consolation. In these few pages we have been able to see but little of that strange land where the sun shines in the north and Christmas comes in mid summer, but I hope that the little glimpse I have been able to give will induce many to make the journey thither. The compensations are greater than those offered by most of the countries to which our tourists go. The voyage, after you pass Panama, is the most delightful that the ocean offers, and the opportunities for investment are sur passed nowhere else. It is unfortunate that we know so little of the South American republics when they offer so much of value to us.