In conflict-torn Colombia, redemption with a view

Pilgrims pray in front of the image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Las Lajas, at her sanctuary in Ipiales, deep in the Colombian AndesPerched above a lush chasm in the mountains of southern Colombia sits a towering gray basilica where both victims and fighters caught up in the country’s half-century conflict seek redemption. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in this deeply Catholic country make the climb to the edge of the Guaitara river canyon each year to visit Our Lady of the Rosary of Las Lajas, a neo-Gothic sanctuary that sits 2,900 meters (9,500 feet) above sea level in the Andes mountains, near the Ecuadoran border. The region has been hit hard by a messy conflict that has drawn in leftist rebel groups, right-wing paramilitaries, drug traffickers and the Colombian army over the years.

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