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Mary: Mother, presence and symbol (part 2)

English Spanish

Part 2 of 3, on how popular Marian devotions have been the providential channel that has nourished, maintained and enriched the faith of Latin American believers. (Read part 1 here.)


The Oyacachi Indians were quite astonished by the beautiful carving of the Mother of God that Don Diego de Robles had just offered them in exchange for some planks of fine cedar. The caciques from that area recognized in the image of Mary the same face of the Virgin that had spoken to them and protected them from the attacks of bears and enemies, and they saw themselves reflected in the face of the Child, whose features were very similar to those of the mestizo children of those mountains. Ecuadorians call Our Lady of Quinche “La Pequeñita” (the Little One) and they have been singing to her during four centuries with texts in Quechua, Jíbaro, Castilian and diverse languages of the region.

El Salvador

Like an abandoned treasure on the seashore, a well-sealed box has been carried on a donkey’s back to the city of San Miguel. Since the people could not open it, they took it to the local authorities to claim its contents. However, when passing in front of the parish church, the donkey lay on the ground, stubbornly determined not to move from there in any way. Then the people opened the box and found an image of the Virgin with the Child in her arms. The presence of the image brought harmony and peace to that convulsed region, and that is why they called it Our Lady of Peace. The celestial patron of El Salvador has the coat of arms of the republic embroidered on her skirt.


The image of Our Lady of the Rosary was finished around 1592, cast in purest silver and covered with rich and heavy garments. The people say that the Virgin went across America, and when she arrived in Guatemala, the Child fell asleep on her lap, staying there forever with their children. In 1821, the leaders of the fight for independence proclaimed her patroness of the nascent nation, and in 1833, Our Lady of the Rosary was proclaimed Queen of Guatemala.


Upon his return from the corn harvest, Jorge Martínez had to spend the night in the field of Pilgüín creek. A stone on the tough ground does not allow him to be comfortable, so he takes it and throws it far away into the darkness. However, he finds it again in the original place where it was bothering him, and he decides to keep it in his backpack. At dawn, he discovers that what he believed was a rock is actually a small and beautiful image of the Virgin Mary, carved in cedar. This is how this patroness, Our Lady of Suyapa, came into Honduran history.


It is said that in the 16th century, Rodrigo de Cepeda, who allegedly was a relative of Saint Teresa of Ávila, brought with him to Nicaragua an image of the Immaculate Conception that he placed in a chapel in his house. When he had to move to Peru, he could not take the sacred image with him because every time he tried, bad weather prevented the departure of his boat. This is how Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo stayed as Mother and patroness of the Nicaraguan people.


The first diocese on the mainland of the American continent was erected in Panama in 1513 under the protection of the Mother of God. A beautiful painting of the Virgin and Child brought from Seville became the Marian heart of the people of Panama, who in the year 2000 solemnly celebrated the proclamation of Our Lady of La Antigua as patroness of the city and the country.

To be continued

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