Posts Tagged ‘Nuestra Señora de la Soledad’

Tonight, the streets of Oaxaca are alive with the sound of music and cohetes (rockets) as a calenda (parade) in honor of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude) celebrates the approach of the feast day of the mother, queen, and patroness of Oaxaca.


A young Soledad making the rounds on a float.


Accompanied by an angel.


Monos taking a break in front of the Basilica de la Soledad.

There will be no solitude for Soledad during the next couple of days and nights.  If you don’t believe me, check out her festival schedule.

virgen de la soledad programa 2017

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Tapetes de arena (rugs of sand) are a traditional feature of the celebration in Oaxaca of Día de Muertos.  When I first arrived to live here, they were drawn in front of the Cathedral.  Next, they moved for a year or two to the Government Palace and for the last several years they have graced the Plaza de la Danza.  This year’s offerings were the work of twelve artisans and feature the most beloved and revered of the Jesús and María señores y señoras in Oaxaca.  This post will highlight the ladies…


Virgen Dolorosa — Our Lady of Sorrows


Virgen del Carmen — Our Lady of Mount Carmel


Sra. Virgen del Rosario — Our Lady of the Rosary

Interestingly, in previous years the themes of the sand paintings in these public spaces have been Día de Muertos related.  I’m not sure of why the change this year to religious imagery.  Indigenous Day of the Dead celebrations pre-date the arrival of the Spanish and the All Saints Day of the Catholic church.  And in Oaxaca, one of the most indigenous states in Mexico, as Shawn D. Haley points out in his book, Day of the Dead: When Two Worlds Meet in Oaxaca, “there is little of the Spanish influence to be found in the Oaxacan Day of the Dead.  The Spanish version… is bleak and dismal…. For the Oaxaqueñans, these days are… joyous and exuberant.  It is not a mourning of lost loved ones, but a celebration, a reunion with the dead.”


Santa María de Guadalupe — Our Lady of Guadalupe


Nuestra Señora de la Solidad — Our Lady of Solitude


Inmaculada Concepción de Juquila — Virgin of Juquila

For more of these sand paintings, check out the recent post by blogger buddy Chris.  By the way, the feast days for these last three señoras are coming up in December.  First on the calendar is Juquila on December 8, then comes Guadalupe on December 12,  and, finally, Oaxaca’s patron saint, Soledad on December 18.  There will be special masses, processions, and rockets. December is a noisy month!

But first, we must welcome the difuntos (departed) who begin arriving tonight.


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Nuestra Señora de la Soledad is the patron saint, queen, and mother of Oaxaqueños — and she is my vecina (neighbor).  Thus, I shall not want for revelry!

Inside the Basílica, Soledad -- Dec. 17, 2016

“Inside” Soledad, in the Basílica — Dec. 17, 2016

Despite her name, there is no solitude for Soledad or her neighbors on her December 18 feast day  — or the days and nights leading up to it.  Like her sister December virgin images, Juquila and Guadalupe, she seems to thrive on the cacophony that is fiesta life here — after all they are Mexican Marías.

So, bandas playing traditional music (loudly), fireworks and rockets booming and banging, church bells urgently chiming, and lively recorridos (travels) through the streets of the city, beginning early in the morning and continuing well beyond midnight, are welcomed.

The celebrations began at 5:00 AM on December 7, with a ringing of church bells and a “dawn journey” and culminated with a grand fiesta yesterday, December 18, her feast day.  She seemed to enjoy the festivities, including these guys from the Istmo performing for her, *La Danza de los Negros.

Soledad’s fiesta will end tomorrow (Dec. 20) with a concert of Christmas carols at 7:00 PM.  It’s been great fun, but I’m already looking forward to Noche de Rabanos on December 23!

Outside Soledad in the Basílica courtyard - Dec. 18, 2016

“Outside” Soledad in the Basílica courtyard – Dec. 18, 2016

*La Danza de los Negros is another of those complex and multilayered dances traditional to specific indigenous cultures in Oaxaca.  For more information, check out the article (en español), Los Negros, tradición bixhahui, ícono de Chihuitán.


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Good Friday morning, the streets of Oaxaca are quiet, and solitude seems to be the order of the day.  The only sounds that could be heard coming from the streets in my ‘hood were prayers being sung as Our Lady of Solitude left her eponymous home at the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.


As you can see, alone, Oaxaca’s patron saint was not; acolytes carried and accompanied her on her morning stroll.


A crystal clear, brilliant blue sky provided a backdrop for her sojourn.


Slowly she made her way down Independencia en-route to the Cathedral.


She was one of the first to arrive at this ritual Viernes Santo gathering.


The guys took over and maneuvered her into position at the side of the Cathedral, as the faithful awaited.


There, she would soon be joined by other images of the Santísima Virgen and Jesús from many of the numerous churches in the Historic District.


After at least two hours of prayers and songs and more prayers, Soledad returned to the Basilica, perhaps to rest (like me) before again taking to the streets for this evening’s Procession of Silence.

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Today is the feast day of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, the mother, queen, and patron saint of Oaxaqueños.


If you enter the word “soledad” into a Spanish to English translation program, “solitude” and “loneliness” result.  However, for the past ten days, Our Lady of Solitude hasn’t had much of an opportunity to be lonely.  On December 15, she was taken down from her glass encased niche in the Basílica, that bears her name, and carried out into the fresh air of the church plaza.  On the 16th, she took a road trip through the streets of Oaxaca, stopping to visit several other churches along the route.

The faithful have been coming to honor her.

And, over the past 24 hours, she has been entertained by fireworks, bands, and the ringing of bells.

Food stalls surround her from Morelos to Independencia…

along with vendors of the sacred…

and the profane.

There is even a carnival for the kids.

With crowds, like these…

Nuestra Señora de la Soledad might just be looking forward to returning to the solitude of her glass enclosed niche.  I know I’m looking forward to a quiet night’s sleep!

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As yesterday’s post reported, fireworks late Monday night heralded the feast day of La Virgen de la Soledad, the patron saint of Oaxaca. P1030476

However, that was far from the end of the nocturnal tale.  At the stroke of midnight, only an hour after the snaps, crackles, and pops had ended, and when I had finally drifted off to sleep, the bells of the Basilica began a frenzied pealing.  They were immediately joined by repeated rocket explosions, and the unmistakable sounds of a tuna band; at 2 AM bells, rockets, and mariachis; at 4 AM more bells, rockets, music, AND a procession winding its way through the streets of the city; its sounds ebbing and flowing for  almost two hours.

At 6 AM, I gave up attempting sleep, threw on jeans, shoes, and a sweatshirt (didn’t even bother to wash my face or brush my teeth — don’t tell anybody), grabbed my camera, and headed over to the Basilica.  What a sight!!!


The Plaza de la Danza was covered with food stalls offering barbacoa, molotes, empanadas, tacos, buñuelas, hot chocolate, breads, and pastries — the best of Oaxaca street food.  And, they were all open!


On the Basilica’s plaza, the Banda Auténticos (from San Andrés Huayapam) was playing…


Dancers were dancing…


People were just waking up…


Vendors were selling roses and bouquets of herbs…


And, ubiquitous twig brooms (escobas de otate) waited to sweep-up the detritus from Soledad and friends pulling an all-nighter.


After a breakfast of barbacoa (chivo) and hot chocolate, I walked back home.  Sleep deprived or not, it was a great morning!

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Today, Oaxaca’s patron saint, Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, is having her day.  Well, that’s not quite accurate, as she has been enjoying ten days of celebrations.  However, December 18 is THE Día de la Festividad.  So, no surprise, last night around 10:30, from the plaza of the Basílica de la Soledad, the booms and bangs of fireworks and crackles and hisses of a castillo, sounded to herald the upcoming day.

Only a block (as the crow flies) from the action, how lucky am I to have a ringside seat??!!!

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