From Jan. 23 to Feb. 4, Chilean miner José Henriquez is touring churches and cathedrals around England to recount his experience in the mine to the same audiences that were riveted by the events that unfolded between August and October of 2010.
With 33 years of experience in mining, 56-year-old Henriquez was a key player in maintaining morale amongst the miners, leading daily prayers below ground until the end of the incredible rescue effort.
Henriquez is speaking at speak at a variety of sights around England, including several locations in London, Oxford and at the historic Durham Cathedral, one of England’s most celebrated gothic structures.
Henriquez’s talk in Durham, located in the heart of England’s mining country, will be particularly poignant. In an interview with the BBC, the local Bishop noted the important parallel between the recent collapse in the San José Mine in northern Chile, and the Seaham Colliery disaster of 1880 in County Durham.
Bishop Mark Bryant recalls that 130 years ago “the miners, not knowing whether or not they would get out, left messages for their loved ones, I think on planks of wood.” In 19th century Durham as in 21st century Chile, it was the persistence of optimism and communication with loved ones that helped the miners survive what might otherwise have been a tragic catastrophe.
“That seems an extraordinary parallel across the years,” says Bryant, “a link between Seaham in 1880 and Chile in 2010.”
This is not the first time Chile’s miners have visited England. On Dec. 13, 23 miners attended a match between Manchester United and Arsenal, earning the praise and admiration from the victorious Machester’s Chief Executive Michael Gil, who described them as “a brilliant example of triumph against adversity.”
Though Henriquez’s talks are free and open to all, seats are limited with both evenings in Oxford already sold out. The England tour is but one of many international visits undertaken by the miners after their incredible rescue, which stirred populations world over.
This post is also available in Spanish