Our Lady of
(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
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
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