Our Lady of LujŠn

(Nuestra SeŮora de LujŠn)

Patroness of Argentina

 

Feast: May 8

The Virgin of LujŠn is a small, 2 feet high terracotta figure of the Immaculate Conception. It was made in Brazil and sent to Argentina in May 1630. Its original appearance seemed inspired by Murillo's Immaculates, but in 1887, in order to detain its decay, the image was given a solid silver covering, and is usually clothed with a rich white robe and a sky blue cloak, these being the colors of the Argentine flag. Only the dark oval face with big blue eyes and the hands folded in prayer are now visible.

Tradition says that an ox-drawn wagon was taking the statue from Buenos Aires to Santiago del Estero. In 1630, a Portuguese settler decided that he would do something to change this distressing situation and he asked a friend to go to Brazil and to bring back with him a statue of the Blessed Virgin. The friend duly purchased two very simple statues, and his trip from Brazil to Buenos Aires was uneventful. But in the capital, before starting on his return trip inland, he made very elaborate preparations, because in those days, no traveler was safe from attacks by the Indians. He organized a whole caravan of covered wagons to protect himself. Argentina is still a land of vast dimensions, endless plains, romantic mountains, and blessedly fertile soil. Three hundred years ago, when great distances always meant endless long trips, every stopover on a journey was an event to remember.

The caravan was bound to reach Cordova as soon as possible. Providence, however, decided otherwise. The Portuguese settler who wanted to renew the religious life of his city appears to us from the perspective of three centuries, as a mere instrument of God, destined to perform something of a different nature through his pious determination. One statue reached its destination in due time, and did not become famous, while the other was never to reach Cordova; it was left behind at the first stopover, a ranch. There it was to give origin to one of the greatest sanctuaries in Latin America, Lujan. Our Lady wanted to stay in LujŠn, and so she is there today. The image was first taken to the nearby home of Don Rosendo. He built a primitive chapel for it which lasted 40 years. A bigger shrine was completed in 1685. A new sanctuary was built in the 19th century. The image was crowned canonically in 1887. In 1930 Pope Pius XII gave the sanctuary the title of Basilica.

Lujan today is a great religious center, with many churches. Soon after the first church had been completed, it proved insufficient to provide for the pilgrims who came from all over the vast country. Many recorded miracles occurred, and various Kings of Spain (Argentina was then a colony of Spain) bestowed upon the shrine gifts and jewels as ornate as those donated to the oldest and most famous ones in Europe. Argentina has many other holy places dedicated to the Virgin, but Lujan is the most outstanding. Several religious orders, the Carmelites, the Dominicans, the Jesuits, the Franciscans and others have established churches and monasteries around the shrine, which now is in the custody of the Lazarists.

Patronage: Argentina, Argentinian military chaplains

 

 

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