Our Lady of Suyapa (Honduras) is celebrated with a feast on February 3. This is the official day of The Virgin of Suyapa, which is represented in the form of a cedarwood statue of the Virgin Mary, the most popular religious image of Honduras.
The Virgin of Suyapa is kept in the Basilica de Suyapa which was made to accommodate the statue. Around the time of the feast, the statue is transported through other areas in Honduras. Our Lady of Suyapa, the Patroness of Honduras is the focus of numerous religious pilgrimages in Central America.
History of Our Lady of Suyapa
Our Lady of Suyapa refers to the Virgin Mary, the statue of which is currently housed in the chapel next to the Basilica de Suyapa in Honduras. There are various stories about the statue’s discovery and how it was installed.
The most popular version of the story of Our Lady of Suyapa is that the statue was miraculously discovered by a laborer called Alejandro Colindres. Having been sent to clear the cornfields at Piligüian mountain, Alejandro was on his way back when he and the eight-year-old boy he was traveling with decided to rest for the night. Alejandro woke up from his sleep to a sharp pain in his side, he grabbed ahold of the object in the dark and threw it away only to find it in his bed again when he returned to it. When he woke in the morning, he discovered that the object was a statue of the Virgin Mary which he went on to take back home to his mother’s house. The statue is said to have been there for twenty years after its discovery.
Our Lady of Suyapa is affectionately called ‘La Morenita,’ which means ‘Dear Dark One,’ because She is carved into cedarwood, and was covered in a dark cloak at the time of her finding. Pope Pius XI declared her the ‘Patroness of Honduras’ and a Basilica was constructed in her honor, next to the chapel, to accommodate the crowds that gather on the day of her feast.
Our Lady of Suyapa timeline
A laborer called Alejandro Colindres discovers the statue of Our Lady of Suyapa when it miraculously appeared in his sleep.
The statue is kept in the chapel to this day, except during feast day when it is moved to the Basilica de Suyapa.
16 years after the shrine was blessed, the first notable miracle was attested.
Pope Pius XI declared The Virgin of Suyapa is the Patroness of Honduras and decided that February 3 would be dedicated to her.
Our Lady of Suyapa FAQs
Where did The Virgin of Suyapa appear?
The statue is believed to have appeared on the path between Piligüin Mountain and Suyapa, a village in Honduras, by a laborer.
When was the shrine blessed?
The shrine of Our Lady of Suyapa was blessed in 1780.
Do people visit The Virgin of Suyapa?
Many thousands of people from Central America and from around the world go on pilgrimages to Our Lady of Suyapa every year.
How to Observe Our Lady of Suyapa
Visit the Basilica on feast day
The best way to celebrate the day of Our Lady of Suyapa is to visit the Basilica on the day. Not only will you be able to see the statue, but you can also participate in the mass.
Spend the day in prayer
If you’re Christian, this day is an opportunity to practice your faith through prayer. Even if you aren’t religious, the day can be observed by appreciating the history behind the statue.
Donate to the caretakers
The custodians of the statue are lay people who maintain it throughout the year and escort it when it tours Honduras before the feast. Their efforts often go unnoticed, so a donation to them or the chapel is one way to show your appreciation.
5 Facts About The Statue Of Our Lady Of Suyapa
The statue has been stolen twice
On one of those occasions, the statue was stripped of all the precious metals and stones used to decorate it and left in the men’s room of a restaurant.
The statue was carved in the 1700s
The carving is believed to have been done by a pious, but amateur artist, and is smaller than people anticipate, measuring only 2.5 inches
The statue has a military title
Because of the visions that soldiers kept having of the statue, Our Lady of Suyapa was declared Captain-General of the Armed Forces of Honduras.
The Football War ended because of it
The statue is credited with the swift ending of the Football War between El Salvador and Honduras.
All the caretakers are male
The keepers who look after the statue are called Orden de Los Caballeros de Suyapa.
Why Our Lady of Suyapa is Important
Religious and non-religious people can show their appreciation for the day
Whether or not you believe in miracles, the statue provides an understanding of the Honduran experience. It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and learn something new.
It gives us insight into Honduran culture
Our Lady of Suyapa is one of the most visible and religious images in Honduras. The festival creates interest and gives tourists a reason to visit the country.
The Basilica is a beautiful piece of architecture
The style of the Basilica is contemporary and is formed in the Latin Cross. The doors of the façade are guarded by two bell towers and the stained glass windows can also be enjoyed from the outside.
Our Lady of Suyapa dates