Our Lady of Suyapa, also known as the Virgin of Suyapa, is a revered image of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. Her tiny dark statue, carved from cedar wood, is a national treasure of Honduras and the focus of a popular pilgrimage. This February 3 marks the 277th anniversary of her discovery.
Discovery and early devotion
According to popular tradition, the statue of Our Lady of Suyapa was discovered in late January or early February 1747 by a Honduran laborer named Alejandro Colindres. The legend claims that Colindres and an 8-year-old boy were clearing cornfields on Piligüin mountain, northeast of Tegucigalpa, when night fell. They had no choice but to spend the night in the field. Colindres awoke to a sharp pain in his side and discovered that he had been sleeping on a small statue of the Virgin Mary. He immediately took the statue home and placed it on his family’s altar.
News of the discovery spread quickly, and soon people from all over Honduras began to flock to Colindres’ home to venerate the statue. A small chapel was built to house the image. By 1777, a larger shrine was needed.
Miraculous intercession and patronage
Over time, Our Lady of Suyapa became known for her miraculous intercession. Many people attributed healings, answered prayers, and other blessings to the intercession of the Virgin. In 1925, Pope Pius XI declared Our Lady of Suyapa the patroness of Honduras, and her feast day was set on February 3, the anniversary of her discovery.
Enshrinement and lay caretakers
In 1954, a grand basilica was built next to the shrine to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims who visit Our Lady of Suyapa each year. The statue spends most of its time in the basilica, but it is occasionally taken on pilgrimages to other parts of the country.
A group of lay caretakers, known as the Orden de los Caballeros de Suyapa, is responsible for safeguarding the statue and maintaining the basilica and shrine.
A symbol of hope and faith
Our Lady of Suyapa holds a special place in the hearts of Hondurans, who see her as a symbol of hope and protection. Her tiny statue, with its gentle smile and serene expression, has inspired generations of believers, and her miraculous intercession continues to be a source of comfort and solace for many.
Each year, thousands of pilgrims from Honduras and beyond visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Suyapa to venerate the statue, participate in religious celebrations, and seek her intercession.