Often stories about the Blessed Virgin Mary are from the European perspective. As SSNDs who are missioned in Honduras know, this feast day narrative is based on the experience of a Honduran peasant. In 1747. Alejandro Colindres, who was returning from his day’s work harvesting corn near Suyapa, stopped along the rocky road to sleep. He tried to level the ground by throwing out what he thought was a large stone. When he again laid down there was the same lump. This time he looked more carefully and saw that it was not a stone, but the image of Our Lady carved onto a small piece of cedar wood less than 3” tall. Her robe was light pink covered by a dark cloak edged with stars and jewels. For 20 years, the statue stood on an altar at Colindres’ home, and villagers would pray to her. There were reports of miracles. After recovering from a painful kidney stone, Captain Joseph de Celaya built her a chapel, which cemented the devotion. Pope Pius XI declared Our Lady of Suyapa, the Patroness of Honduras in 1925. Soldiers claimed visions of the Virgin calmed them during the 100 Hours War in 1969. Each year, on February 3, more than one million faithful gather to honor the Virgin of Suyapa at the Basílica de la Virgen de Suyapa, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. As Hondurans migrated to other countries they brought the celebration of this feast with them.
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