Long before it was confiscated by President Daniel Ortega's government in mid-August, the Jesuit-run University of Central America in Nicaragua was a special place for the thousands whose minds and lives it transformed.
"I respect the (Catholic) religion because we grew up in this place, but the mountain speaks to us in the words of our grandparents, not in the words of the conquerors," said Moisés Vega, a 64-year-old "granicero" who says he can speak the sacred language of volcanoes to ask for good weather and a good crop.
It is one of the world's most visited and beloved religious venues – the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with a circular, tent-shaped roof visible from miles away and a sacred history that each year draws millions of pilgrims from near and far to its hilltop site in Mexico City.
Under a white tent on the street outside Our Lady of the Angels on a recent Sunday, Fr. Adrián Vázquez led parishioners seated in pews and plastic chairs in celebrating 10 a.m. Mass, flanked by piles of rubble from the sanctuary left there by a deadly earthquake nearly five years ago.