Our Lady of the
Miracles of Caacupé

(Nuestra Señora de Caacupé)

Patroness of Paraguay

 

Feast: December 8

Paraguay is a Catholic nation. The faith is deeply rooted in the fiber of the people. There is great devotion to the Blessed Virgin under her title of "Our Lady of Caacupe." In the early 16th century, a "guarani" converted Guaraní Indian of the Franciscan mission of Tobati is in danger of death. He is surrounded by the fierce Mbayáes, a tribe that has refused to accept the Christian faith and has declared itself an all out enemy of the converts. In the forest thickness, a massive tree trunk provides safe refuge. He hides there, cringing and trembling; he asks for protection from his Mother in Heaven, the Immaculate that the good friars have taught him to love. There he promises the Virgin that if he survives, he will carve a pretty image from the wood of the protective trunk. Nobody saw him, his persecutors went by without discovering his presence, and as soon as he could the Indian sculptor went back and took from the tree the wood he needed for his work. Two images came out of the trunk; the larger one went to the church of Tobati, and the Indian kept the smaller one for his personal devotion.

In 1603 the Tapaicuá Lake overflowed and it flooded the whole Pirayú valley razing everything in its way, including the Virgin's image. However when the waters went away the Virgin's image made by the Indian reappeared. The residents began to diffuse their devotion and started invoking it as the "Virgin of the Miracles." A devote neighbor, who was a carpenter, made a modest hermitage to keep the image and there the Virgin of Caacupé began receiving pilgrims. Every December 8th the celebration of Santa María de Caacupé takes place and pilgrims arrive in thousands to the Shrine to show their love and gratitude to the "Blue Virgin of Paraguay." Our Lady of Caacupé is a handsome wood carving with a delicate oval face and blue eyes; like the lmmaculate she joins her hands on her breast in prayer and her blond hair falls to her shoulders. The small image measures some 50 centimeters. For a time, in order to give her more prominence and cover her with rich garments, her figure was enlarged disproportionately, until Church authorities decreed that the image be given its original size. The Virgin of the Miracles wears an elegant white tunic and has a beautiful sky blue cloak over her shoulders, both embroidered with gold thread. The image stands on a sphere resting on a large half moon. Mary's feet seem to step on a serpent, an allusion to Genesis and Apocalyptic texts.

Construction of the present church began in 1945, and although it has not been completed yet, it has been the sanctuary of the Virgin of the Miracles of Caacupé since 1980. Caacupé is the religious center of Paraguay: the meeting place of the nation and the Church, because this blessed image has accompanied the formation process of the Paraguayan nationality. Every 8th of December, the great feast of "Maria de Caacupé", thousands of pilgrims congregate at the Virgin's sanctuary; they come walking, on bicycles or however they can, to show their love and gratitude to their Mother, the "Virgen Azul de Paraguay" (the Blue Virgin of Paraguay).

Patronage: Paraguay

 

Prayer

Lady of the Miracles of Caacupé, sometimes I am afraid to confess my faith, because I fear my classmates or friends will laugh at me, or ostracize me. Help me to stand up for what I believe without fear. Give me your help to help others to reach their own freedom and dignity.
Amen.

 

 

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