Catholic, Latino, and Proud!
The feast days of the Virgin Mary are a big deal in Latin America. Catholic Latinos celebrate a lo grande with processions, hymns, fireworks, and cultural events in her honor. It is part of the culture, a tradition; it is the Spanish heritage, and a way of living where you may hear people exclaiming ¡Virgen Santísima! in everyday conversation.
It is not a coincidence that the majority of Latinos are Catholics and highly devoted to the Virgin. It is a heritage brought from Catholic Spain combined with a series of Marian apparitions and mystical manifestations that occurred during the history of these countries.
Customs and Traditions to Celebrate the Queen of Heaven
There are masses, vigils, and streets decorated with flowers, altars – some right on the sidewalk. This is the stage for the Virgin procession, and some dress for the occasion with bright and colorful costumes. Others play music, dance, and feast on the delicious food available all along the streets. In summary, it is a unique experience where people celebrate their religious heritage with great enthusiasm.
List of 20 Latin American countries Devoted to the Virgin Mary
These countries from Latin America have named the Blessed Mother as the patroness of their country. Even though each nation has more Marian devotions, this list refers to the Marian title that represents the whole nation, where she has been canonically crowned and declared patroness. Most of the images of the Blessed Mother show her with a crown and carrying the Child Jesus. Usually, the Virgin Mary gets a different name based on the location where she has appeared or manifested herself.
1. Argentina: Our Lady of Luján
Our Lady of Luján or Virgen de Luján is a terracotta image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception which is about 14 inches tall. It has been venerated in Argentina since 1630. Her feast day is May 8, and she is also venerated in Uruguay and Paraguay. Luján is a river and city in Argentina, now well-known for its large neo-gothic church built in her honor due to a manifestation that occurred in this territory.
2. Bolivia: Our Lady of Copacabana
Our Lady of Copacabana or Virgen de Copacabana is a original image never leaves the sanctuary, which became a basilica in 1949; a copy is used for processions. At first the feast of the beloved patroness was celebrated on February 2, the Purification of Mary, and later it was transferred to August 5 with its own liturgy and great popular celebration.
3. Brazil: Our Lady of Aparecida
Our Lady of Aparecida or Virgen de Aparecida is a clay statue was originally found by three fishermen who miraculously caught much fish after invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The statue is currently housed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, in Aparecida, São Paulo, Brazil. Her feast day is October 12.
4. Chile: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel , or Virgen del Carmen, was adopted as the patroness of the army in Chile during their revolutionary war. This Marian devotion has extended all over Latin American and European countries; she is the patroness of the Army and Navy in several of them. The devotion is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular – a Marian habit or garment that is a sign of belonging to Mary. It is a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life but after death. Her feast day is July 16.
5. Colombia: Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá
Our Lady of Chiquinquirá or Virgen de Chiquinquirá is a portrait of the Virgin of the Rosary on a rustic piece of cotton cloth recovered miraculously its colors and brightness, after been left careless for years. Her feast day is celebrated on July 9.
6. Costa Rica: Our Lady of the Angels
Our Lady of the Angels or Virgen de los Angeles is a small black statuette found by a woman on August 2, 1635. It was believed to be a representation of the Virgin Mary because when she tried to remove the statuette and take it with her, it reappeared twice in the original spot where it had been found. Another version of the story says that the Virgin of Angels appeared to a young girl in the form of the statue and asked the girl to build a church in her honor in the spot where she found it, in Cartago city. Her feast day is August 2 and it is considered a sacred religious holiday for the majority of the population who live in the country.
7. Cuba: Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre
Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre or Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre was known after two Native American and an African slave child were facing a storm in their tiny boat. Juan, the slave, was wearing a medal with the image of the Virgin Mary. The three men began to pray for her protection. Suddenly, the skies cleared, and the storm was gone. In the distance, they saw a strange object floating in the water. It was a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus on her left arm and holding a gold cross in her right hand. The statue was fastened to a board with an inscription saying “Yo Soy la Virgen de la Caridad” or “I am the Virgin of Charity.” Her feast day is September 8.
8. Dominican Republic: Our Lady of La Altagracia
Our Lady of “La Altagracia” or Virgen de la Altagracia is a painting of the Virgin was brought from Spain to Dominican Republic, and the image of the Virgin mysteriously disappeared and later reappeared in an orange bush. The location of this bush is where the first church of Higuey was built. Her feast day is January 21.
9. Ecuador: Our Lady of Quinche
Our Lady of Quinche or Virgen del Quinche is credited with many miracles and graces after converted Indian venerated her. The image carved in wood. Her feast day is November 21.
10. El Salvador: Our Lady of Peace
Our Lady of Peace or Virgen de la Paz is represented with an olive branch, which is a symbol of peace. There is an ancient statue of the Virgin Mary holding an olive branch which, according to some accounts, was brought there from a shipwreck. In September 1787, the inhabitants of the city attributed to the statue their safety when threatened by a volcanic eruption. The Virgin was also held up as a model of peace among warring factions in the country at the time of the war of independence. The statue was solemnly crowned in November 1921, in the presence of the country’s president. Her feast day is November 21.
11. Guatemala: Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary or Virgen del Rosario is an image made in silver, carry a long rosary and a Child who seemed asleep. Leaders of the independence movement chose her as her patroness in 1821. According to a popular version, the Virgin Mary went out to travel across America and the child fell asleep when they arrived in Guatemala, for what the image has remained there. Her feast is October 7.
12. Honduras: Our Lady of Suyapa
Our Lady of Suyapa or Virgen de Suyapa is a small sculpture of The Virgin Mary, made of cedar, and only six and a half inches tall was found for a man in 1747. She was kept it on display in a home, where many people visited. Eventually, people came to pray to the Virgin. Those asking her to cure their ailments led to reports of miraculous healings. Her feast day is February 3.
13. México: Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe or Virgen de Guadalupe is the Blessed Lady appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian and revealed herself to him as “the Ever Virgin Mother of the True God,” and made known her desire that a Shrine be built there to bear witness to her love, her compassion, and her protection. After several apparitions, she printed her image in Juan Diego’s tilma (cloak). Everybody believed and the veneration began and soon after the building of the Shrine on the top of Mount Tepeyac. The Basilica in Mexico City is the most important Shrine to Our Blessed mother, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe in all the American continents. Her feast day is December 12.
14. Nicaragua: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo or la Inmaculada Concepción de El Viejo is a tradition that holds that St. Therese of Jesus gave this image to her relative, who took it with him everywhere. He arrived with it in Central America, landing at “Realejo,” which was then the most important port of Nicaragua. Soon he moved to the Franciscan mission in search of a healthier climate. A room in his house became an oratory, where the neighbors went attracted by the beautiful expression of the Immaculate Virgin’s face. When Cepeda received orders to transfer to Perú, he tried to take the image of the Immaculata with him, but the move kept getting postponed time and time again because of bad weather; until he realized it was God’s will that he give up his beloved image and leave it among the people who had learned to love her so quickly. The Virgin remained forever in Nicaragua. Her feast day is December 8.
15. Panamá: Our Lady of La Antigua
Our Lady of La Antigua or Santa María de la Antigua (it means antiquity). The image used to be in a Cathedral in Sevilla, Spain and she was brought in 1510. Spaniards had named a village in her honor, after win a battle with the natives. Her feast day is September 9.
16. Paraguay: Our Lady of the Miracles of Caacupé
Our Lady of the Miracles of Caacupé or Señora de los Milagros manifested to a converted Indian who sculpted an image of the virgin as gratitude for her intercession that help him went out alive of a situation. Years later, there was a great flood and the Franciscan friars, accompanied by the inhabitants of the region, organized public prayers pleading for the calming of the waters. When the water went away the Virgin’s image appeared and the residents called La Virgen de los Milagros (the Virgin of Miracles). Feast day is December 8.
17. Perú: Our Lady of Mercy
The Our Lady of Mercy, or Virgen de la Merced, devotion was brought by Mercedarian friars, who came to Perú with the conquerors, carrying their celestial patroness, the Virgin of Mercy, a Marian title of the thirteenth century. She was proclaimed “Patroness of the Peruvian Lands” and “Patroness of the Armies of the Republic.” On the first centennial of the nation’s independence, the image was solemnly crowned and received the title of “Grand Marshall of Peru,” on September 24, 1921, Feast of Our Lady of Mercy, since then declared a national holiday, when every year the army renders homage to her high military rank. Her feast day is September 24.
18. Puerto Rico: Our Lady of Divine Providence
Our Lady of Divine Providence or Virgen de la Divina Providencia is a 13th-century devotion that started in Italy came to be the patroness of Puerto Rico when a new bishop arrived to find the Catholic Church on the island in disarray. A popular shrine had been built and he brought that spirituality with him. The original image of Our Lady of the Divine Providence was an oil painting. The Virgin Mary cradles a sleeping infant Jesus, while she looks at him and gently holds his hand. Her feast day is November 19.
19. Uruguay: Our Lady of the Thirty-Three
Our Lady of the Thirty-Three or Virgen de los 33 is a devotion brought by missions that Jesuits had in Paraguay. In 1825, thirty-three Uruguayan patriots landed on the beaches of the Agradecida to commence the liberation of their country. When they reached Florida (an Uruguayan territory), they went to the small church and placed the future of the new nation at the feet of the Blessed Virgin. Her feast day is the second Sunday in November.
20. Venezuela: Our Lady of Coromoto
Our Lady of Coromoto or Virgen Coromoto story says that the Virgin Mary appeared twice to the chief of a local tribe, who refused to be baptized to the Catholicism. When he tried to grab her, she vanished, leaving behind a small painting of her. He believed and got converted. In 1942, she was declared the Patroness of Venezuela. Her feast day is September 8.
How do you celebrate the Virgin Mary’s feast day?