In the year 1785 Don Martin de Lecuna ordered an image of Our Lady of Carmel from a sculptor in Quito, whose worship and devotion have since been associated with the struggles for independence of the Chilean nation. On December 5, 1811, Generals José Miguel Carrera and Bernardo O'Higgins asked the Vicar of Santiago de Chile for a "Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving" for success in the struggle for independence.
On January 5, 1817, General José de San Martin placed his baton in the right hand of the image and solemnly named her Patroness of the Army of the Andes. On the eve of the battle of Chabuco, the army, led by O'Higgins proclaimed the Virgn of Carmel patroness and general of the Chilean armed forces. In 1818, as the Spanish forces were advancing, the people and their leaders crowded into the cathedral to place their prayers and trust at Our Lady's feet. They promised her to raise a church in her honor at the site where Chile's independence is signed: "In the very same place where the battle is waged and victory is won, a sanctuary will be raised to the Virgin of Carmel, Patroness and General of the Chilean armed forces, and the same magistrates who make this vow will lay the foundation in the very same site of her mercy, which will be that of her glory. "
That was why in the midst of the battle of Maipú, on April 5, General San Martin encouraged his army with the cry: "Our Patroness, the most Blessed Virgin of Carmel, will give us victory, and right here we will build the church we promised her to commemorate this triumph." Before the end of the year, the first stone of the first sanctuary was laid. The shrine was completed in 1892. The present church was completed in October, 1974. In 1923, at the request of the Chilean bishops, the Holy See proclaimed the Virgin of Carmel principal patroness of all Chileans, not just of the army and navy as she had been until then.
There are two Carmel images that Chileans especially venerate; the one at the National Shrine of Maipú, carved in Quito, Ecuador in 1785, and the one, made in France, at the Basilica of the Savior in Santiago de Chile, that was solemnly crowned in 1926. The liturgical feast of Chile's patroness is celebrated on the last Sunday of September.
Alonso de Narvaez, a Spanish painter, did a portrait of the Virgin of the Rosary on a rustic cloth woven by Indians. To paint in tempera he used pigments taken from the soil and herb and flower juices of the region. Since the cloth was nearly square (forty-four inches high and fourty-nine inches wide), to fill in the space the artist added next to the Virgin the figures of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Andrew, apostle. These were the patron saints respectively of the Spanish colonist who had commissioned the painting and the monk who had ordered it.
In 1562 the portrait was placed in a chapel with a straw roof that leaked, and in a short time the
humidity, air and sun, had so damaged the painting that it was impossible to recognize what it
In 1577 the damaged painting was moved to Chiquinquirá and left abandoned in a room
had formerly been the family oratory. Eight years later, Maria Ramos, a pious woman from
cleaned and straightened out the modest chapel and placed in it the faded canvas that had once
Mary's image. Tradition has it that the prodigy took place on Friday, December 26, 1586. The
which this woman had so desired to contemplate stood out again, having recovered its colors and
brightness. The instantaneous process of restoration gradually closed the scratches and holes in
cloth, overlaying them with color and light.
The painting still shows traces of its former damage; the figures seem vague, but at a distance they acquire relief and color.
For three hundred years the painting of the Virgin of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá was unprotected, and thousands of pious objects were touched annually against the frail cotton cloth, some times with rods or canes in order to reach it, which should have destroyed it. Since 1897 a thick glass protects the picture from severe weather conditions and the pilgrims' fervent excesses.
Pius VII declared Our Lady of Chiquinquirá patroness of Colombia and granted her her own liturgy. "La Chinita," as her people call her, was canonically crowned in 1915, and in 1927 her sanctuary was declared a Basilica.
In the city of Cartago, as in many others during colonial times, whites were segregated from
and mestizos. Those who were not absolutely white were not allowed to enter the city, where a
cross marked the limits. On August 2, 1635, feast of the Holy Angels, a poor mestizo woman
Juana Pereira, in her daily search for firewood discovered a small image of the Virgin simply
on a dark stone, placed conspicuously by the footpath. Juana happily picked up the treasure, with
no idea that she would find it five more times in the same place, because the image kept
disappearing from cupboards, chests and even the parish tabernacle, and on each occasion
would return to the same rock where it had been found. It was evident to all that the Virgin
wanted a center of worship there, where she could comfort the poor and humble.
The image of Our Lady of the Angels is very small, only about three inches high. She carries the Child on her left arm, where the cloak that covers her from the face down, is gathered in pleats. She has a round, sweet face, slanted eyes and a delicate mouth; her coloring is leaden, with scattered golden sparkles. Only the faces of Mary and the Child Jesus are visible, as a precious cloak protects and adorns, her. At present the statuette is displayed in a handsome monstrance which surrounds it completely, enlarging its appearance.
"La Negrita" (the little black one) as she is affectionately called by the people of Costa Rica, was solemnly crowned in 1926 and in 1935, His Holiness Pope Pius XI declared the beautiful shrine of the Queen of Angels a Basilica.
Pilgrims visit Cartago constantly to pay their respects to their heavenly Mother; many enter the shrine on their knees, as an act of humility and gratitude, and then they pray at the rock where the blessed image was found. The stone is wearing away under the constant rubbing of so many pilgrims' hands that caress it gratefully while they pray for relief of their sufferings. There is a spring under the stone and its waters are collected by the faithful who visit the shrine seeking mercy and health.
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