At mass, on Sunday the archbishop of Lima, Carlos Castillo, looked out over a cathedral full of faces – none of them alive.
The archbishop had his church filled with over 5,000 portraits of those who have passed away in the pandemic that is spreading across Peru, using his broadcast homily to criticise a health system he said was “based on egotism and on business and not on mercy and solidarity with the people”.
The nation is facing a projected contraction of 12% this year and Castillo called for solidarity with the poor.
“An even harder moment is coming,” said Castillo.
“It would be terrible if in the times to come we have thousands of these photos – but dead of hunger,” he added.
Covid-19 has taken the lives of at least 6,400 people in Peru and there have been more than 225,000 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker.
Hundreds of people have died without getting from the health system and many families have faced financial ruin due to the cost of trying to care for the sick.
Church workers in Lima spent days filling the pews with photos of coronavirus victims. When they had filled 84 pews, the archbishop ordered thousands more photos attached to the base of the columns that rise to the arched ceiling.
The images were of doctors, police, firemen, and street cleaners, an infant.