Photo essay: Argentine slum honors 'Blue Virgin'Loading
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    Thousands of Paraguayan immigrants living along the polluted Riachuelo river in Argentina's capital celebrate their "Blue Virgin" every year with a grueling but joyful 10-hour procession that winds through every corner of their slum. In this Dec. 8, 2013 photo, residents walk past a banner with an image of Pope Francis with a phrase that reads in Spanish: "The Pope of Peace" as they watch the procession. That Time magazine named Pope Francis "person of the year" on Wednesday makes perfect sense to those who knew him as the church leader who saw to it that every major slum in the city had a working parish.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    Padre Toto de Vedia is embraced by Valentina as he speaks during the procession. "For us slum-dwellers, it's a point of pride that Francis has been here drinking mate (an herbal tea shared communally by South Americans) and spending lots of time with the poorest people, and that he's now recognized by the entire world. The church that he promotes is one that has really helped the poor and the marginalized, like me," said Miguel Sergio Leiva. "I watched the whole procession when I was homeless and taking drugs, and now I'm an active member of the church of Caacupe."
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    Brenda Duarte, 10, dressed in the likeness of Paraguay’s patroness, “Our Lady of Caacupe,” stands next to an altar outside her home as she wait for the arrival of the procession. The slum's parish is named for Paraguay's patroness, "Our Lady of Caacupe," commonly called the "Blue Virgin" by the half-million Paraguayans who migrated to Argentina, many of whom live in ramshackle settlements known as "misery villages" in and around Buenos Aires.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    Pablo Acuna, 2, rests in the living room of his house as he watches the procession celebrating Paraguay’s patroness. Padre Toto, one of many "slum priests" long supported by Francis, led thousands in this year's procession on Sunday, walking all day long through suffocating heat and humidity. He blessed humble homes decorated with flags and balloons with water from a plastic jug, and hugged victims of violence. Many people put up altars to the virgin, and some displayed the image of Francis, "the pope of peace."
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    The faithful are offered "empanadas" as they walk by as part of the procession.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    A girl watches from her window the procession.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    A man takes a sip of mate as he helps transport the statue of Paraguay’s patroness.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    Caacupe parish youth known as "The Explorers", a group of young people who works in the shanty town to prevent other children from drugs and violence, chant their anthem.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    In this Dec. 7, 2013 photo, faithful gather next to a portrait of Jesuits martyrs Alfonso Rodriguez, Roque González de Santa Cruz and Juan Del Castillo on the eve of a grueling but joyful 10-hour procession.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    In this Dec. 8, 2013 photo, Paraguayan immigrants walk in the procession.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    The Gonzalez family watch the procession.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    Padre Toto de Vedia blesses residents with holy water using an olive branch.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    Paraguayan immigrants walk in the procession.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
  • Argentina Blue Virgin Photo Gallery
    Girls dressed in the likeness of Paraguay’s patroness.
    Rodrigo Abd | AP
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