Our Lady of Carmel of the Maipú

(Nuestra Señora del Carmen del Maipú)

Patroness of Chile


Memorial: July 16

In the year 1785 Don Martin de Lecuna ordered an image of Our Lady of Carmel from a sculptor in Quito, whose worship and devotion have since been associated with the struggles for independence of the Chilean nation. On December 5, 1811, Generals José Miguel Carrera and Bernardo O'Higgins asked the Vicar of Santiago de Chile for a "Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving" for success in the struggle for independence.

On 5 January 1817, General José de San Martin placed his baton in the right hand of the image, and named her patroness of the Army of the Andes. On the eve of the battle of Chabuco, General O'Higgins proclaimed the Virgen of Carmel patroness and general of the Chilean armed forces. In 1818, as Spanish forces advanced, the people and their leaders crowded into the cathedral to place their prayers and trust at Our Lady's feet. They promised her to raise a church in her honor at the site where Chile's independence is signed: "In the very same place where the battle is waged and victory is won, a sanctuary will be raised to the Virgin of Carmel, Patroness and General of the Chilean armed forces, and the same magistrates who make this vow will lay the foundation in the very same site of her mercy, which will be that of her glory".

That was why in the midst of the battle of Maipú, on April 5, General San Martin encouraged his army with the cry: "Our Patroness, the most Blessed Virgin of Carmel, will give us victory, and right here we will build the church we promised her to commemorate this triumph." Before the end of the year, the first stone of the first sanctuary was laid. The shrine was completed in 1892. The present church was completed in October, 1974.

In 1923, at the request of the Chilean bishops, the Vatican proclaimed the Virgin of Carmel principal patroness of all Chileans, not just the army and navy.  Basilica of the Savior in Santiago de Chile. There are two Carmel images that Chileans especially venerate; the one at the National Shrine of Maipú, carved in Quito, Ecuador in 1785, and the one, made in France, at the Basilica of the Savior in Santiago de Chile, that was solemnly crowned in 1926. The liturgical feast of Chile's patroness is celebrated on the last Sunday of September.

Army of the Andes, Chile, Chilean army, Chilean navy



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