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Virgen del Rosario (Chiquinquirá, Boyacá, Colombia)

Commemorated on December 26, July 9
Virgen del Rosario (Chiquinquirá, Boyacá, Colombia)
The miracle of the Virgin of Chiquinquirá is a case of spontaneous renovation which transformed an obscure, faded picture into a national icon. In 1562, Don Antonio de Santana wanted an image of Our Lady of the Rosary for the private chapel on his encomienda (colonial fiefdom) of Sutamarchan. The missionary assigned there, Dominican friar Andrés Jadraque, went 16 miles east to Tunja to commission a painting of the Virgin of the Rosary from the Sevillan artist Alonso de Narváez.


In Antonio de Santana's damp, thatch-roofed chapel the work so deteriorated that in 1578, when a new priest came to Sutamarchan, he ordered it removed from the altar. Antonio's wife, Catalina García de Irlos, stored it at their hacienda 13 miles west in Chiquinquirá, where she lived after his death in 1582. In 1586, María Ramos, wife of one of Antonio's relatives, Pedro de Santana, recently come from Seville, moved in with Catalina. María set up an oratory in the house and told Catalina she would like to furnish it with an image of the Virgin, so Catalina got the ex-altarpiece out of storage, and María hung it in her little chapel. 

On December 26, 1586, as María was leaving the room after prayers, the painting fell. A native woman named Isabel exclaimed, "Look!" The picture stood upright, glowing, its colors deep and its torn fabric restored. More miracles, a church investigation, and a series of church buildings followed. Although the picture faded with time, devotion increased.  


Painted with natural pigments on a 44"x49" native cotton cloth, the Virgin stands, holding her Child, on an upturned crescent. Both hold rosaries. Filling the canvas on either side are the name saints of the men who ordered the painting, Anthony and Andrew.


The Colombian patronal feast of the Virgin of Chiquinquirá commemorates the canonical crowning of the painting on July 9, 1919. The Basilica celebrates both that day and December 26 with a novena, vigil fireworks, street procession, and mass in Plaza Libertad.




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