Venezuelans celebrate Our Lady of Coromoto each year Feb. 2, Sept. 8 and Sept. 11. (Wikipedia commons)
Venezuelans celebrate Our Lady of Coromoto each year Feb. 2, Sept. 8 and Sept. 11. (Wikipedia commons)

The strong devotion to the Mother of God in Latin America is not limited to veneration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Though Mexicans have a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, many Latin American people have their own devotions. Here are a handful from across the region:

CUBA 

Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre

Around 1600, two indigenous men and one slave boy went out to sea in search of salt for a nearby slaughterhouse. As they sailed, a furious storm tore their canoe to pieces and forced them to camp. Soon, the storm calmed and the three began to cross the water again. In the distance, they saw something floating across the waves. As it moved closer, the men could identify the mysterious bundle as a statue fastened to a board inscribed, “I am the Virgin of Charity.”

Witnesses testified that neither the figure nor her clothing were wet.

The 16-inch tall statue portrays Our Lady holding the child Jesus in one hand and a golden cross in the other. The figure is dressed in a heavy cloak, giving it a triangular shape. Cubans celebrate her feast day Sept. 8.

Our Lady of Charity was declared the patroness of Cuba by Benedict XV in 1916 and solemnly crowned in 1936.

VENEZUELA

Our Lady of Coromoto

After the Spaniards arrived in the Guanare region of Venezuela in 1591, the local Coromoto indigenous tribe fled to a nearby river. For decades the two groups lived in peaceful isolation. One morning in 1651, however, the Coromotos chief and his wife witnessed a vision on the river of a beautiful lady carrying a small child, telling them to take their people to the white men to “receive the water on the head so as to be able to enter heaven.”

The chief and his wife obeyed and took their people to learn Christianity from the Spaniards. However, the chief did not take to Christianity and preferred the life of freedom in the forest, so he returned with his family to his village. The lady appeared to the chief in his hut. Annoyed, the chief grabbed a weapon and tried to catch her. As he reached out his hand, the lady disappeared. But in his closed fist was an image of the lady drawn on paper. The paper image, measuring only 27 millimeters high, is kept in a monstrance and presented for veneration. 

Pius XII declared Our Lady of Coromoto patroness of the Republic of Venezuela in 1944 and her canonical coronation was celebrated in 1952.

Venezuelans celebrate Our Lady of Coromoto each year Feb. 2, Sept. 8 and Sept. 11.

COLOMBIA

Our Lady of Chiquinquirá

Alonso de Narvaez painted a portrait of the Virgin of the Rosary with tempera on rustic woven cloth to place in a family oratory. The chapel’s straw roof leaked and years of humidity, sun and air damaged the image so severely that it became unrecognizable. The painting was moved to the town of Chiquinquirá in 1577 where it was used as a bed to dry wheat in an old family chapel. Eight years later, the pious Dona Maria Ramos was shocked to find the small chapel and painting in such a terrible state. She cleaned out the room and prayed for the chapel’s rebirth. Legend has it that on Dec. 26 in 1586, as the sun moved across the image, it was instantaneously restored. Even the holes in the canvas closed and scratches vanished. The canvas, which shows a meter-high image of Our Lady of the Rosary next to Sts. Anthony of Padua and Andrew, hung for 300 years unprotected and has faded a bit, but the colors are especially recognizable from a distance. It was placed behind thick protective glass in 1897.

Pope Pius VII declared Our Lady of Chiquinquirá patroness of Colombia in 1829 and she was canonically crowned in 1915. Colombians celebrate her feast day July 9.

BRAZIL

Our Lady of Aparecida

In the fall of 1717, Dom Pedro de Almedida, count of Assumar in Portugal, stopped in the Brazilian city of Guarantinqueta on his way from Sao Paulo. The local people decided to host a dinner in the count’s honor. However, it wasn’t the season for fish and the feast needed many.

After several hours of fishing and catching nothing, three fishermen with a devotion to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception prayed to God asking for help catching fish. Just as they were about to give up, they found the body of a statue. After bringing the statue into their boat, they realized the statue was Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Once they prayed for fish with faith in Mary, their nets filled.

Our Lady of Aparecida, Our Lady “who appeared,” was canonically crowned in 1904 and Pope Pius XII proclaimed her principal patroness of Brazil in 1930. Her feast day is celebrated in Brazil Oct. 12.

ARGENTINA

Our Lady of Luján

A two-foot tall terracotta figure of Mary was being taken on an ox-drawn wagon from Buenos Aires to Santiago del Estero for a shrine intended to revitalize the faith in northern Argentina. On its journey, the wagon is said to have inexplicably stopped by the Luján River. The travelers changed the oxen and unloaded the wagon. Still, the oxen refused to cross the river. Someone realized that two small boxes were not unloaded. One of the boxes held the statue. When the caravan unloaded the box, the oxen started to move. After repeating the process several times, the travelers decided Mary wanted the statue left in Luján. A local landowner built a primitive chapel for the statue, where it was venerated for 40 years before a shrine was built. Our Lady of Luján was crowned canonically in 1887 and declared patroness of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in 1930. Her feast day is celebrated May 8.

sarahw@catholicsentinel.org