Servants of the Lord & the Virgin of Matará
How the Cross of Matará Tells a Story
The words in bold correspond to those numerals, letters or images which appear on the Cross following from top to bottom.
With the discovery of America, a new phase of Evangelization was initiated in history. Thanks to the missionary work of many courageous people that left their own countries to preach the Gospel in foreign lands, the message of Jesus Christ was at last able to reach a large part of humanity to whom it had been previously unknown.
Around the year 1594, a group of Jesuit missionaries arrived to the territory today known as Santiago del Estero, where they met a tribe of indigenous people called Matará by the banks of the Salado River.
First they sought to gain the confidence of the people in order to make way for Jesus to conquer their hearts. It became necessary to understand their language in order to communicate with them and speak of Jesus Christ. But, how would these people be able to retain the Message, if they did not know how to read or write? It was here that the idea was born to carve into wood the Good News which they had come to announce. Little by little their catechetical efforts were compiled by a member of the tribe to make the “Cross of Matará.”
They said that they came to speak about Him who is the First and the Last of everything, the Alpha and the Omega. They came to speak about God, the One who had created all things. He created the sun and the moon and placed the stars in the heavens.
They told how Man had been estranged from God, and how for this reason had come His only son, Jesus Christ, in order to save us. They told them how Jesus Christ had passed through the world doing good works and miracles.
In addition they spoke about the Last Supper, and how Jesus had given us the great gift of His Body and Blood, changing bread and wine into the Eucharist, the night before He was taken prisoner. They spoke about Peter, and how he had denied Him three times before the cock crowed.
They told them how Jesus Christ was condemned before Pilate who sent Him to be flogged, and how the soldiers divided His clothing and cast lots (dice) for His cloak.
They told them that He was condemned to die on a cross, and how with hammer and nails, they pierced His hands and His feet, afixing Him to the cross. They also spoke about His Mother, the Virgin Mary who had faithfully accompanied Him until the end of all His sufferings. They told them how when Jesus had fulfilled the whole plan of God, He gave up His spirit and died.
They told them how only a few moments later a soldier pierced His side with a lance in order to verify that He actually had died and how they lowered (with a ladder) His body from the cross and placed it in a sepulcher.
They also spoke with them about how three days later Jesus Christ rose gloriously from the dead in order to open Heaven and to free all humanity from the fires of Hell. They told them how they, the people of Matará, could be saved by honoring and accepting Jesus Christ as God and Savior, and prostrating themselves before Him in order to adore Him.