Saturday, July 9, 2016
Our Lady of Chiquinquirá: The image that healed itself!
While I was in Quito I was able to spend 3 weeks with Salesians from all over Latin America. They came to Quito for the Salesianity class just as I had and I was grateful to hear some of the stories and devotions that are popular in their home countries. One of these devotions has its Feast Day on July 9! That devotion is Our Lady of Chiquinquirá! This is a devotion related to an image of Our Lady of the Rosary that was damaged and moved to Chiquinquirá, Columbia. The image also included St. Andrew the Apostle and St. Anthony of Padua. This image, by the grace of God, began to mend itself on December 26, 1586! Today Our Lady of Chiquinquirá is the patroness of Columbia. In Venezuela the image is honored as La Chinita. The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:
In the mid-16th century the Spanish painter Alonso de Narvaez created a portrait of the Virgin of the Rosary. He painted in pigments from the soil, herbs and flowers of the region of modern Colombia, and his canvas was a rough 44" * 49" cloth woven by Indians. The image of Mary is about a meter high, and stands about a half moon. She has a small, sweet smile, both her face and the Child's are light colored, and she looks like she's about to take a step. She wears a white toque, a rose-coloured robe, and a sky blue cape. A rosary hangs from the little finger of her left hand, and she holds a sceptre in her right. She holds the Christ Child cradled in her left arm, and looks toward him. Christ has a little bird tied to his thumb, and a small rosary hangs from his left hand. To the sides of Mary stand Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Andrew the Apostle, the personal patrons of the colonist and monk who commissioned the work Don Antonio de Santana and Andrés Jadraque.
In 1562 the portrait was placed in a rustic chapel. It was exposed to the air, the roof leaked, and soon the damage caused by the humidity and sun completely obscured the image. In 1577 the damaged painting was moved to Chiquinquirá and stored in an unused room. In 1585 Maria Ramos, a pious woman from Seville, cleaned up the little chapel, and hung the faded canvas in it. Though the image was in terrible shape, she loved to sit and contemplate it. On Friday 26 December 1586 the faded, damaged image was suddenly restored. It's colors were bright, the canvas cleaner, the image clear and seemingly brand new. The healing of the image continued as small holes and tears in the canvas self-sealed. It still has traces of its former damage, the figures seem brighter and clearer from a distance than up close. For 300 years the painting hung unprotected. Thousands of objects were touched against the frail cotton cloth by pilgrims. This rought treatment should have destroyed it, but it healed and survives. Pope Pius VII declared Our Lady of Chiquinquirá patroness of Colombia in 1829, and granted a special liturgy. In 1897 a thick glass plate was placed over it to stop the weather and the excesses of the faithful. The image was canonically crowned in 1919, and in 1927 her sanctuary declared a Basilica.