Virgin of Caacupé Day takes place every December 8 and is a revered Paraguayan tradition that has existed for centuries. Every year on this day, thousands of pilgrims descend on a small town in central Paraguay to commemorate the anniversary of a holy apparition. Centuries ago, a Guaraní sculptor named José escaped near death due to divine intervention, and as he said he would, he carved a beautiful statue of the virgin to thank the heavens above. Our Lady of Caacupé has continued to guide and protect the nation of Paraguay ever since.
History of Virgin of Caacupé Day
The story of the Virgin Mary and José has transformed over the centuries — each version has its own lessons to learn and particular meaning. The Virgin of Caacupé’s original story dates back to an eventful day in 1600 when a sculptor named José left home to collect firewood. As he worked, a group of men from a rival tribe, the mbaya, quickly approached, putting him in a tight spot. José was Guaraní but had converted to Christianity by many groups who ran numerous missions in the country during the 17th century. The Guaraní were among the few tribes to accept Christianity, while the others rejected the religion. He feared his life may be in danger and began praying. Legend has it that a resplendent Virgin Mary appeared and spoke to him in Guaraní. “Ka aguy kupépe,” she said to José — “Get ye behind that bush” in English.
José hid behind a tree, still fervently praying. He promised that if he lived, he would carve the Virgin Mary’s image out of the tree that gave him safety. Thanks to divine intervention, the mbaya walked past without noticing. José kept his vow to the Virgin Mary. The sculptor carved two statues, a large one that eventually found a home in Tobatí and a smaller image for his community.
Today, this benevolent apparition of the Virgin Mary has her own temple, the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles in Caacupé. The city is one of Paraguay’s most prominent spiritual centers.
Virgin of Caacupé Day timeline
Virgin Mary helps Guaraní sculptor José escape death and he creates a statue to honor her.
The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles is officially inaugurated.
On May 16, the Pope visits the Basilica, and more than 400,000 people attend the liturgy.
At Caacupé, the Pope pays tribute to Paraguay’s women for rebuilding the country after the War of the Triple Alliance decimated the Paraguayan male population.
Virgin of Caacupé Day FAQs
Why is the earth in Paraguay red?
Red earth, or ‘yvy pytã’ in Guaraní, is made mostly of decomposed volcanic rock and high amounts of iron. Hence, the color.
Who controls Paraguay?
Paraguay is a democratic republic. The president exercises sole executive powers and is the head of a multi-party system.
Is English spoken in Paraguay?
The English-speaking population in Paraguay is a small minority. Most people speak Spanish and Guaraní.
How to Observe Virgin of Caacupé Day
Many people set off for pilgrimages to the Basilica on the Virgin of Caacupé Day. Join them and seek the Virgin Mary’s blessings.
Say a prayer
It’s tradition to pray to the Virgin of Caacupé for good health and jobs. Ask, and like the sculptor José, you shall receive.
Paraguay's lush forests and vibrant urban spaces are every traveler’s dream. Forget Argentina or Brazil, and book tickets to the “heart of South America” instead.
5 Facts About Paraguay That Will Blow Your Mind
The intricate art of tablecloths
One exquisite ‘ao po’i’ lace tablecloth takes 18 months to make.
The unique Guaraní language
Guaraní is onomatopoeic and contains 12 vowels.
The river is huge
The second-longest river in South America is the Paraguay River.
A hub of renewable energy
99.9% of the energy produced has zero carbon dioxide emissions.
Once a haven for Nazis
Many Nazis fled to Paraguay after W.W.I.I. and were assured protection by Stroessner’s regime.
Why Virgin of Caacupé Day is Important
It helps us keep the faith
This day makes us want to believe in miracles. It’s alright if some things don’t have scientific explanations.
It’s a day for reflection
Virgin of Caacupé Day offers a moment to pause in gratitude. Everyone needs a spiritual breather, whether you’re a believer or not.
It brings people together
When all else fails, turn to a higher power. Virgin of Caacupé Day offers solace and hope to those who may be struggling.
Virgin of Caacupé Day dates