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     Land of winds > Traditions > Legend | Issue 19 (May.-Jun. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

The Virgin of Chaguaya

The Virgin of Chaguaya

The story goes that towards 1750, during a drought that threatened to wipe out their harvest and flocks, a couple of shepherds from Chaguaya (department of Tarija, south of Bolivia) who were returning late at night to their home encountered the Virgin Mary on the crown of a leafy molle. They knelt down to pray, kissed the ground and when they raised their heads and lifted their eyes the apparition had vanished.

The day after the couple went back to the place where the apparition was seen and found a statue of the Virgin among the branches of the tree. They took the statue down and took her away to their home. When neighbours came to see the figure they discovered that it had disappeared. The couple went back to look for it and found the statue nested high on the crown of the molle. Several times the figure was taken away to their home, and went back to the tree as many. In the end, a chapel was built on the spot where the apparition took place, and it was named "Virgin of Chaguaya". Although the legend does not tell us the outcome of the drought, it is likely that the faith of the peasants and shepherds would have managed to avoid its worst consequences.

The small village of Chaguaya is located 60 km to the south east of Tarija's capital city, along the side of the River Camacho. Today's sanctuary (popularly known as the sanctuary of the "Madrecita de Tarija", "Virgen del Valle" or "Patrona chapaca") was built in the 1980s. Every year, from August 15 to September 14, thousands of pilgrims come to the village to visit this holy place.

Virgen de Chaguaya, in Wikipedia [es].

Picture A.

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