CNA Newsroom, Jan 9, 2023 / 16:30 pm (CNA).
Accompanied by his 13-year-old son, Jesús Muñoz is traveling 500 kilometers (310 miles) on horseback to fulfill a promise made to St. Sebastian 20 years ago, when he began his university studies.
As a young man Jesús Muñoz traveled from his Argentina hometown of Las Ovejas to study in Neuquén, 500 kilometers to the south, and entrusted his professional future to the intercession of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of Las Ovejas.
That young student asked the saint to accompany him during his career, and to fulfill a promise, this weekend he set off on horseback with his 13-year-old son Benjamin. Together they are traveling the 500 kilometers from Neuquén to Las Ovejas.
The journey of father and son began on Saturday night, Jan. 7, and when they left the Neuquén cathedral they received the blessing of Bishop Fernando Croxatto.
The riders hope that more faithful on horseback will join the route on the way to the shrine dedicated to St. Sebastian in Las Ovejas. “We will receive with open arms all those who want to join this crusade of faith,” said Muñoz, who plans to travel about 30 miles per day.
At that rate, he could finish his pilgrimage on Jan. 17 or 18.
“It is really exciting to be able to do it with my son Benjamin, who is going to accompany me. These tests of faith are very important today. Many times hopelessness, anguish overwhelms us and faith is what lifts us up,” he told the LM Neuquén online news.
“We’re coming out of a pandemic, from having lost loved ones. It’s a mixture of a bit of everything that this long ride on horseback involves and it has that mystique for us, because it’s going back to the town, going back to our roots, retaking our roots,” he added.
“Also, after obtaining my law degree, it’s very important for me to return with my people and return to my land, to return like this, to return on horseback has a priceless added value,” he explained.
The lawyer noted that in his family, he is the first to earn a university degree. Besides his law degree, he already has five postgraduate degrees.
In difficult times, “I leaned on my faith for support, and in the great promise that I had made, and that was what kept me going,” he stressed.
Muñoz advised young people not to give up and to have faith, even in difficulties: “When you have a goal and cling to faith, it’s what leads you to great achievements.”
“For us it’s a dream come true to have undertaken this journey on horseback, which is not easy to coordinate; the logistics aren’t easy,” he admitted, thanking his family and friends for their support.
“It’s a very difficult route and we know that it won’t be easy, but we are full of faith and with the grace of St. Sebastian and with the help of God we will reach our destination, and just in time,” he said.
His connection with St. Sebastian
For many years, Muñoz participated in organizing the traditional parade in honor of St. Sebastian, which takes place every January in Las Ovejas, located in northern Neuquen province.
At first, he recalled, the parade consisted of between 20 and 30 people. Then it became “more institutional” and it began to “grow remarkably.” Every year, he commented, there is more participation, and in recent years between 200 and 250 faithful have arrived on horseback to the shrine.
“The statue of the saint that is in Las Ovejas comes from Chile. It was brought on the back of a donkey, and all those beliefs were part of my upbringing, my adolescence, and today it’s a pleasure to continue honoring those customs of my land,” he said.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
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