Lady of San Juan
de los Lagos
Our Lady of the Lake of Saint John
Feast: February 2, June
24, August 15, December 8
Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos (English:
Our Lady of the Lake of Saint John) is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed
Virgin Mary venerated by Mexican and Texan faithful. The original image is a
popular focus for pilgrims and is located in the state of Jalisco, in central
Mexico, 122 kilometers (76 mi) northeast of the city of Guadalajara. The statue
is venerated both in Mexico and the United States known by its proxy title
Nuestra Señora de San Juan del Valle (Our Lady of Saint John of the Valley)
mainly focused in Texas.
Pope Pius X granted the image a Canonical
coronation on 15 August 1904 and is widely known for the jeweled regalia offered
by its devotees all throughout Mexico. It is permanently enshrined at the
Basilica Minor of San Juan de los Lagos and is one of the most visited
pilgrimage shrines in Mexico.
The sanctuary's history begins in 1543
when Father Miguel de Bologna, a Spanish priest, brought a statue of the Virgin
of the Immaculate Conception to the village. The town was then called San Juan
Mezquititlan Baptist but its name was changed to San Juan de Los Lagos in 1623.
According to local legends, and some eyewitness accounts, a certain aerial
acrobat was traveling along the Camino Real, "the King's Highway," from San Luis
Potosi to Guadalajara, performing in the towns along the way. His act included
his wife and two daughters. His stunts included swinging from one high point to
another by means of ropes, in somewhat the same fashion as trapeze artists of
today. To add excitement and an element of danger, the artists had to fly over
swords and knives that were stuck in the ground with their points positioned
While performing in the village, the
younger daughter, a child of six or seven, slipped, fell upon the knives and was
mortally wounded. After preparing the body and wrapping it in burial cloths, the
grieving parents brought the child's body to the chapel of Our Lady of San Juan
Meeting them at the door of the chapel was
the 78-year-old Ana Lucia, the wife of Pedro Antes (the caretaker and custodian
of the beloved statue). Feeling pity for the grieving family, she exhorted them
to have confidence in The Virgin, who could restore the child to them. Taking
the statue from its altar in the sacristy where it had been consigned because of
its poor condition, Ana Lucia laid it near the child's dead body. In a few
moments, they detected a slight movement under the shroud. The parents quickly
unwrapped the cloth to discover the child well and unharmed. This first miracle
of Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos became known in neighboring villages and
towns. Numerous other miracles and favors followed, until now Our Lady is
venerated by pilgrims from throughout Mexico and the United States.
Following this miracle, the statue began
to be venerated by an increasing number of pilgrims including Indians, Spanish
and mestizos. During this period the statue acquired its own local identity as
Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos. Between the early 17th century and the middle
of the 19th century a pilgrimage fair was held each year on November 30 to
celebrate the original installation of the statue in the shrine.
The present church, begun in 1732, was
built in the Mexican baroque style. The statue of the Virgin was installed in
1769 and the bell towers were completed in 1790. In 1972 the church was
recognized as a basilica. Inside the church, upon a platform with an upturned
crescent moon, stands the statue of the Virgin. The face is dark in color, the
eyes widely spaced and the traits somewhat aquiline.
About 20 inches (50 cm) tall, the statue
was made by the Purépecha Indians of the state of Michoacán using an indigenous
technique called titzingueni, in which a frame of wood is covered by a paste of
corn pith and orchid juice, and then coated with gesso and painted. Similar
statues are still venerated in other parts of Jalisco, including many different
of statue but different name such as Nuestra Señora de Los Altos (Our Lady of
Los Altos) in town of Atotonilco El Alto and San Francisco de Asís, Jalisco.;
Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health) in Patzcuaro and the Virgin of
Zapopan in the city of Guadalajara. Sometime in the late 16th or early 17th
century the statue was modernized by being enclosed in a frame and draped with
clothing. The Virgin’s hands are joined in prayer, she has long brown hair, and
wears a white gown and blue robe. The statue’s body is covered with a golden
crown in Byzantine style. Above the image are two angels of silver, supporting
between them a silver banner with the Latin inscription in blue enamel: Mater
Immaculata ora pro nobis (Immaculate Mother pray for us).
Pilgrimages, festivals and churches
At the end of January and beginning of
February each year a great pilgrimage occurs to the shrine and the city grows
many times in size. This festival is attended by more than a million people,
many of them walking, from all over Mexico. During a week of festivities there
are hundreds of temporary stalls selling pilgrimage icons, multiple bands of
musicians playing around the great basilica, fireworks demonstrations in the
evenings, and a palpable feeling of spiritual joy descend on the town. If a
family member falls ill or undergoes a serious surgery for example, you can
promise the Virgin to make the pilgrimage if that person makes it out okay.
The devotion carried over to California by
people from Jalisco. In the 1970s, George Martinez revived the devotion in San
Francisco, California and a monthly mass was celebrated. In 1979 Martinez
convinced the bishop of San Juan to allow the statue to come to California, and
the statue left Mexico for the first time ever in 1980.
The devotion also arrived in New Mexico
and the church of Nuestra Senora de los Lagos was built in 1828 in Talpa, New
Source of information:
- Foundation Marypages -
Our foundation has the
objective to develop, expand and maintain the Marypages website to
promote the Roman Catholic belief and especially the Devotion of Our
Blessed Mother, Mary.
With your financial support you will make this possible.
Marypages can only survive with your help!
can become a donator of our foundation by donating at least 20 Euro per
year. We will then offer you:
If your donation is 50 Euro or
higher, then you will also receive a beautiful rosary from Lourdes. In the rosary is a little holy water from the source in Lourdes.
Any extra income generated will be donated to
compassionate projects with a Catholic basis. We are registered at the
Chamber of Commerce Flevoland under number 39100629.
To make a donation, please click
the button below.
God bless you.