For a month, the faithful have been filing into the evidence room of the Eagle Pass Police Department from sunup to sundown, some in wheelchairs and others on crutches; some on their knees and others so overcome by emotion they have wept aloud at the sight of the life-size Christ.
He's been dubbed "The Jesus Christ of the Undocumented."
On Aug. 31, U.S. Border Patrol agents found the huge statue of the crucified Christ, detached from its cross, marooned on a sandbar in the middle of the Rio Grande. The river separates the Texas border town of Eagle Pass from its Mexican counterpart, Piedras Negras. The agents took the statue to the police department, and officers hoping to find the rightful owner put the word out to local media to see who would step forward.
What the police got instead were hordes of the faithful, from local residents to a busload of senior citizens from Laredo, 120 miles south, and the sick and infirm, who have come to pray for miracles. The statue is propped up in a hallway outside the police evidence room, and visitors are allowed to view, to touch and to stop and pray. However, votive candles, flowers and other offerings, which people keep bringing, have been forbidden, Lt. Daniel Morales said.
Under police regulations, the department must hold the statue as unclaimed property for 90 days. If no owner steps forward, Morales said the City Council will probably be asked to dispose of the statue, believed to be made of fiberglass.
So far, almost 20 requests have been made for the statue, from churches in northern Mexico and in Eagle Pass and surrounding towns and from individuals. "They will have to raffle it out," Morales said. "Everybody wants it, and only one person can have it."
-- Sylvia Moreno