La Virgen del Valle de Catamarca

Miranda, A. S. (2000). Our Lady of the Valley: Popular story. San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca: Printing Dept. of the National University of Catamarca.




Sometime between 1619 and 1620, a Christian man found an image of the Virgin in a cave. The man, a servant of Don Manuel de Salazar, was shepherding when he noticed a group of young girls carrying flowers and other objects. Although he was curious about what he’d observed, he ignored it and went about his business. A few days later, his curiosity got the best of him. He followed the same path he’d seen the girls on before. Eventually, he came upon an image of the Virgin, one with a dark complexion and her hands together as if she were praying. The man returned to his master to tell him what he saw.


Don Manuel de Salazar, the man’s master, worried that the image of the Virgin would be used for idolatrous purposes, so he decided to remove the image of the Virgin from the cave. He built a shelf within his home where he and his relatives would venerate the image from time to time, decorating it with flowers and candles. However, Salazar reported that the image of the Virgin seemed to have “run away” numerous times, mysteriously reappearing in the cave where she was once found. Although he never found evidence of human agency, he continued to believe that someone continued to take the image and return it to the cave.


There are few documents in existence concerning the Virgin of the Valley of Catamarca. Those that do exist describe the image as a figure carved from clay with eyes, eyebrows, and skin carefully painted. There is, however, no information of how the Virgin image ended up in the cave. Following the discovery of the image, numerous temples were built in its honor, and in 1860 the building of a Basilica Cathedral began.


Additionally, numerous cures have been attributed to the Virgen del Valle. One of the most well-known was the Miracle of the Jug. An infirm man begged the Virgin of the Vally for good health.  In return, he would undertake an extensive pilgrimage. Suddenly, he began to regain his health.  Soon after he was strong enough to keep his promise, and he set off on pilgrimage. On the way, due to lack of water, he began to thirst to the point that he was near death. He looked to the sky and asked for the Virgin’s blessing. The Virgin again answered his prayers when a silver jug full of water appeared inside his pocket.



Popular Devotions

Each year on December 8th, processions are held in the city of Catamarca and attracts thousands of Christians making pilgrimages. One of the more notable things that occurs during this procession is a participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.


Bendiceme, Madre y ruega por mi sin cesar

Aleja de mi, hoy y siempre el pecado

Si tropiezo, tiende tu mano hacia mi

Si cien veces caigo, cien veces levàntam

Si yo te olvido, tú no te olvides de mi

Si me dejas Madre, ¿Què sera de mi?

En los peligros del mundo asísteme.

Quiero vivir y morir bajo tu manto.

Quiero que mi vida te haga sonreir.

Mirame con compasiòn, no me dejes Madre Mía

Y, al fin, sal a recibirme y llévame junto a ti.

Tu bendiciòn me acompañe hoy y siempre.

Amen: Aleluya

Hail Mary

Dios te salve, María. 

Llena eres de gracia: El Señor es contigo. 

Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres. 

Y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre: Jesús. 

Santa María, Madre de Dios, 

ruega por nosotros pecadores, 

ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. 


All content is used with permission 

of the Marian Library at the 

University of Dayton.