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Luján, Virgin of

Luján, Virgin of

The Virgin of Luján is the most popular figure of devotion and most venerated shrine in Argentina. Around 1630 a Portuguese ranch owner had two images of the Virgin Mary brought from Brazil for his chapel. When one of the images, borne by oxen, "refused" to move beyond a certain point, a site thirty-six miles west of Buenos Aires, local inhabitants took it as a sign that the Virgin wished to stay there. A popular devotion grew around the image, and the villa of Luján itself grew up around the chapel housing the virgin. It soon became the center of Argentine Catholic religiosity. Generals Manuel Belgrano and José de San Martín paid their respects to the Virgin of Luján. Because of the shrine's popularity, Pope Leo XIII honored the statue with a papal coronation in 1887. A major basilica to house the image, under the care of the Vincentian fathers, was begun in 1887 and opened in 1910. Declared the patroness of Argentina, the Virgin of Luján attracts many pilgrims each year, especially in the months of November and December. Miniature body parts and votive offerings fill the shrine in testament to the healing miracles devotees believe the Virgin has granted. A cloak of white and blue, the colors of Argentina's flag, often covers the image for protection.

See alsoLeo XIII, Pope .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Jorge María Salvaire, Historia de Nuestra Señora de Luján (1885).

Rubén Vargas Ugarte, Historia del culto de María en Iberoamérica, 3d ed., vol. 1 (1956).

Additional Bibliography

Guglielmino, Osvaldo. La Virgen de Luján y nuestra nacionalidad. Buenos Aires: Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Históricas Juan Manuel de Rosas, 1997.

Presas, Juan Antonio. Anales de Nuestra Señora de Luján: Trabajo histórico-documental, 1630–2002, 4th edition. Buenos Aires: Editorial Dunken, 2002.

                                          Jeffrey Klaiber

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