Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 16 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Giuseppe Antonio Tovini
home iconNews
line break icon

Argentina to construct 400 grottoes to honor the Blessed Mother

David McTavish - Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 02/10/20

2020 is the 400th anniversary of the discovery of "Our Lady of the Valley" and the 500th anniversary of the first Argentinian Catholic Mass.

The parishes of the Argentinian province of Catamarca are uniting in 2020 to create 400 shrines dedicated to the Virgin Mary in honor of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of a statue of the Blessed Mother, which inspired thousands of Catholic devotions in the South American nation.

The story, as told by Welcome Argentina, an informational website geared towards tourism, goes that between 1618 and 1620 an unnamed Argentinian native in the service of Manuel Salazar witnessed a group of women in a procession into the forest. The man thought little of the occurrence at the time, but the following day he felt guided to follow their footprints, which he found to be still visible in the soil.

He traced their steps for miles until he came to a shallow stone recess which led him to find the statue of Mary, styled with tan skin to resemble the native Argentinians, and with her hands held up in prayer. The discovery was kept secret at first, but as the man grew to admire and venerate the statue, he revealed its existence to Salazar, who quickly went to retrieve it so that it could be presented to the public.

The statue and story grew in popularity, until thousands in the region were making pilgrimages to visit the statue, which was eventually recognized by the Church. In 1974, the image of Mary with light-brown skin was adopted as the Patron Saint of Argentina’s Tourism, under the moniker “Our Lady of the Valley.”

Over the 400 years since “Our Lady of the Valley” was discovered, she has been credited with many miracles, including the healing of terminal illnesses, blindness, and paralysis. She is also considered to have saved the region from infestations of locusts and worms.

In honor of the fourth centennial anniversary of “Our Lady of the Valley,” Argentina’s Catholic Bishops have announced 2020 to be a National Marian Year. Catholic News Agency reports that the celebrations will last from December 8, 2019 until December 8th, 2020. They also note that this year is especially significant to Argentina, as it marks 500 years since the first Catholic Mass was celebrated on their soil.

The idea for the construction of 400 Marian shrines came from the Our Lady of the Rosary parish, but Bishop Luis Urbane of Catamarca championed the endeavor and organized it to become a regional effort, bringing in about 30 other parishes to help out. Each parish is expected to construct 13 grottoes over the course of 2020.

Their good works have already seen the first grotto completed. It was blessed on January 30, in the hamlet of Laguna Blanca.

ArgentinaCatholicDevotions and FeastsVirgin Mary
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Why God loves ordinary stuff: Pope Francis' r...
POPE FRANCIS; Ash Wednesday
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Vatican: Imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday...
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the family of 12 siblings with a very sp...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.