Related Books

Virgen del Carmen (Maipú, Santiago, Chile)

Commemorated on March 14
Virgen del Carmen (Maipú, Santiago, Chile)
On February 11, 1817, General O'Higgins proclaimed Our Lady of Mt. Carmel "Patrona Generalísima de las Armas de Chile," protector of the liberation army. But a year later, Spanish forces pushed the Chilenos back to Santiago, where on March 14, 1818, residents and clergy joined the revolutionaries in requesting heavenly help, vowing that on the spot of a decisive victory for freedom they would build a shrine to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Their prayers were shortly answered at the battle of Maipú on April 5. The first stone of the Chapel of Victory was laid that November, but because construction was intermittent for lack of funds, it was not inaugurated until 1892. And then in 1906, an earthquake nearly destroyed it, and another earthquake damaged the rebuilt church in 1927. On July 16, 1944, the first stone of a new, larger shrine was laid on the battlefield. Designed by Chilean architect Juan Martínez of quake-resistant reinforced concrete, the late deco building is the tallest church in the country. On October 24, 1974, the Votive Temple of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel opened beside the mossy old chapel. Pope John Paul II named the Sanctuary a Basilica Minor on January 27, 1987. It houses a statue of the Virgin of Carmel said to have been carried into the decisive battle and found on the field after the victory. It is a candelero image, with carved wooden head and hands mounted on a clothed framework. Pope John Paul II crowned the statue of Our Lady of Maipú on April 3, 1987, during his apostolic visit to Chile. On the weekend after March 14, Maipú celebrates the Fiesta de la Promesa with traditional music and dances in the plaza outside the church. It also hosts thousands of pilgrims on July 16, Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, a national holiday. (Information from the Sanctuary's site, Santuario Nacional de Maipú,; and other sources. )   



Additional information