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Posts Tagged ‘Día de la Virgen de Juquila’

This morning, before dawn broke, the booms of cohetes celebrating Día de la Virgen de Juquila woke me from a dreamy sleep. A rude awakening? Not really. After all these years, the sound makes me smile. The all-bang-no-bling rockets mean something is being celebrated. Since mid November, pilgrims from all over Latin America have been traveling to Santa Catarina Juquila, Oaxaca, Mexico. They arrive by bus, bicycle, motorcycle, on foot, and on their knees to pay homage, give thanks, and ask for blessings in front of the tiny image of la Virgen de Juquila. According to this article, they will continue to make the pilgrimage until December 28.

Image of the Virgin of Juquila on display in the booth of Santa Catarina Juquila at an exposition of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos held in Oaxaca.

Why do they come? According to legend, in 1633, when a fire burned the Chatino village of Amialtepec to the ground, a small wooden statue of the Virgin Mary was rescued amidst the ashes. She was undamaged, save for her light skin color, which was permanently darkened by the smoke, causing her to more closely resemble the Chatino people, who live in this remote mountainous region between Oaxaca city and the Pacific coast. Local priests declared her survival a miracle and her veneration commenced. However, that wasn’t the end of the story; the priest in the village of Santa Catarina Juquila convinced the “powers that be” that she should be moved to the bigger and better church in Juquila. She, however, had other ideas and returned to Amialtepec. This back and forth continued another three times. Finally, in 1719, La Morenita (the dear dark one), as she had come to be known, gave up her traveling ways and agreed to call Santa Catarina Juquila her permanent home.

Image of the Virgin of Juquila nestled on an altar in the garden of the restaurant Almú in San Martín Tilcajete.

She “is a symbol of love, of protection, of justice, of peace, of respect for human dignity.”  And, because of her indigenous roots, “the homage to the Virgin of Juquila is similar to that rendered to the Virgin of Guadalupe, not only in Oaxaca, but also in Puebla, Tlaxcala, State of Mexico, Veracruz and Chiapas, as well as in the United States, for the religiosity of migrants.”

Image of the Virgen of Juquila on the home altar of a family in Teotitlán del Valle.

On October 8, 2014, la Virgen de Juquila received a papal coronation — hence the crown seen in images one, two, and four. And, on October 26, 2022, a delegation from Oaxaca traveled to Rome to present Pope Francis with a very special image of la Virgen de Juquila. It was a collaborative work carved and painted in the Jacobo and María Ángeles Workshop in San Martín Tilcajete, with metalwork by Conrado Villegas Alcázar and filigree work by the jeweler José Jorge García García, both from Oaxaca city. Her vestments were made by Elsa Abigail Mendoza Antonio from Santo Tomás Jalietza.

This is the Virgen de Juquila presented to Pope Francis. The photo is from the Jacobo and María Ángeles Workshop website.

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