The Virgin of Juquila


I know that there is the Virgin de la Soledad in the Cathedral of Oaxaca.  I plan on focusing on her later.  There is another miraculous virgin called La Morenita de Juquila.  I first read about her in Laura Resau’s book Red Glass.  Angel, the young man from Guatemala that travels with the protagonist,

This is a tin ornament of the Virgin

Sophie’s, group to Mexico wears one on a gold chain around his neck.  I think that he buys it in a mercado at Huajuapan de Leon – here’s a quote from the book:

“For himself, Angel picked out a gold Virgin of Juquila pendant. The patron Virgin of Oaxaca. ‘Muy milagrosa, esta Virgen,’ the woman assured us.”

It is significant because it gives Sophie a valuable clue towards the end of the book.  I found it interesting that Laura chose the Virgin of Juquila instead of the the more readily recognized Virgin de la Soledad (who is mentioned in the book Becoming Naomi Leon, by Pam Muñoz Ryan).

Here is the basic story of the miracle of Virgen de Juquila as told by Carlos Amantea:

The story is that she arrived from Spain some two hundred years ago in the form of a statue, about two feet tall.

She was installed in the chapel near Juquila, and many years later, there was a fire. The entire building was destroyed, except for the Virgin. They moved her into the town of Juquila — but when, after reconstructing the chapel, she was taken back to her original home (Amialtepec), she would have none of it: she disappeared and reappeared in the church in the town. After she did this three times, they figured that was where she wanted to be and, of course, she was attributed with deep magic powers.

The only thing that happened to her in all these adventures was that, after the fire, her skin turned dark — what they call morena — like most of the people who live here. She is no longer one of those light-skinned güero virgins out of the Iberian culture but — like the more famous Virgin of Guadelupe — has become a dark beauty. Her skin is the color of the rich brown earth that surrounds the town of Juquila.

There is another version of the story on this website.  There, it says that a covetous bishop wanted to take the Virgin from a peasant to whom it was given.  That story says that she kept trying to go back, but by the fourth time, she decided to stay in the Cathedral built for her in Juquila.  The original spot where she resided is commemorated by a smaller chapel called La Capilla del Pedimento (Amialtepec).  From the article: “Nonetheless the image remained there and gradually people accepted the Mother’s new home. She appeased them by continuing to work miracles in both her old and new domicile. Her children learned how to honor her in both places.”

Approaching El Pedimento - the original resting place.

Many people make pilgrimages to Juquila, to ask for miracles on their behalf.  Here is a description of a typical pilgrimage:

“This is what they do to this day: For the thousands of pilgrims who come to Juquila every week their visit starts in Amialtepec, 9 kilometers before Juquila. There they go to the chapel of ‘El Pedimento’ (the request), a shrine high on a hill near the original site. The ground around El Pedimento is dense clay, which is considered sacred and is said to have healing properties. People use this clay in various ways. Some rub their faces with it, some eat it, but most use it to give shape to their requests. They sculpt little clay houses, cars, farm animals, food, husbands, body parts that need healing, anything they want….

Then they attach a message addressed to the Virgin and lay their “request” at the feet of a large ceramic copy of the Black Madonna. On their return the following year they bring a cross with some type of sign on which they give thanks for the granting of last year’s favor.  So popular is this shrine that each day a caretaker hauls all of the offerings, requests, and crosses out back, forming an enormous holy dump pile.”

Look at all of the crosses!

Now, that, I would like to see!  From there, they proceed to Santa Catarina Juquila, the Basilica erected around the original Virgin’s statue.

“Having finished at El Pedimento, the pilgrims continue to Juquila. Many crawl the last two kilometers, from the entry area to the actual statue, on their knees. They make their way along a dirt road that leaves their knees bloody upon arrival. Once at the feet of their Mother, many pilgrims make a promise (a promesa), something like: “If you get me safely to the USA I will come back here to give you thanks when I return to Mexico.” Or: “If you grant me a child I will make this pilgrimage three more times in my life.”

Many stories testify to this Dark Mother’s willingness to help her children. She is credited with curing the ill, raising dead babies back to life, granting sudden wealth, etc.”

Medal of the Virgin

There are a couple of conditions:  most people pledge to return the year following their miracle – or more than one year.  Also, there’s an amusing story about chastity during the Pilgrimage itself:

“…you have to observe chastity during the pilgrimage. One story tells of “a lusty, overeager couple who stopped by the roadside to engage in some hanky-panky and presto, were changed to stone. To this day, it is said, they are stuck there, somewhere off in the mountains, belly-to-belly.”

Here are a couple of links I found:

A Day in Santa Catarina Juquila – by Geri Anderson and Carol Alice

Prayer to the Virgin for a Miracle –  for people taking the Pilgrimage

Moon Guides information on Juquila – Moon is a great guide book

Travel – Tourist’s tale of going to Juquila – with pictures

Website for the Sanctuary – on Oaxaca Mio

Video – great news feature done by a Mexican news station

An Unexpected Pilgrimage by John Todd, Jr. – great account of a side trip to Juquila


4 responses »

  1. Loved this post! When I lived in Huajuapan, Oaxaca, a number of my friends made pilgrimages to the Virgin of Juquila, and they often brought back little souvenirs for me… that’s what inspired me to include this Virgin in Red Glass. I’ve always wanted to go there someday myself. Thanks for all the great info and links!

  2. hola mi nombre es elfego gutierrez vivo en utah usa y agradesco a la virgen de juquila x darme fuersas de ir ya 2 beses al santuario desde aqui y estoy preparandome para ir mi tercer bes en feb. 2012 espero lograrlo saludos

  3. My coworker is Mexican. She gave me the picture and I prayed for seven days. I don’t know if virgen de Juquila accepts my prayers but very interesting to read about her and I believe in her.

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