Our Lady of la Altagracia

Citation – Marian Library Holy Card Collection ML.031


Dominican Republic


Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia is the patroness of the Dominican Republic. La Altragracia is also the name of the eastern province of the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans see the image as a portrayal of their Lady watching over the island and the growth of Christianity. Her feast day is celebrated on January 21st, which is the anniversary of the victory of Dominican troops over the French in 1691. This was the Battle of Sabana.

There are historic documents that prove that in 1502, in the island of Santo Domingo, the Most Blessed Virgin was honored under the title of our Lady of la Altagracia. Her portrait was brought from Spain by Alfonso and Antonio Trejo, brothers who were some of the first European settlers on the island. When the brothers moved to the city of Higuey, they took the image with them. Later they offered it to the parish church so that everyone could venerate it. The first shrine was completed in 1572, and in 1971 the present Basilica was consecrated.

The portrait of Our Lady of Altagracia is about 13 in. x 18 in. It is painted on cloth and portrays the crowned Blessed Mother praying over her child. The child is laying before her as a little infant. The Virgin looks lovely and peaceful and sits at the center of the picture. A blue cloak sprinkled with stars is wrapped around her. Maria of Altagracia wears the colors of the Dominican flag. A radiant crown and twelve stars frame her head.

The painting is an early work of the Spanish school. It was painted towards the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century. Over time, candle smoke and people’s hands dirtied the surface of the portrait and made it nearly unrecognizable. The image was restored in 1978.  The frame which holds the painting is a beautiful example of Dominican gold work. The frame is made of gold, enamel and valuable stones. It was created by an unknown eighteenth-century artist. 

The image of Our Lady of Altagracia had the privilege of being crowned twice: first on August 15, 1922, during the pontificate of Pius XI and again by Pope John Paul II on January 25, 1979, during his visit to Santo Domingo. At that time the pope personally crowned the image with a golden silver tiara, which was his personal gift to the Virgin.



Book from Marian Library:

Santoro, Nicholas J. Mary In Our Life: Atlas of the Names and Titles of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Their Place in Marian Devotion. IUniverse, 2011.

Researched by Anne E. Keefe

Popular Devotions

Feast day is January 21st

Protector and Queen of the hearts of the Dominicans.

First shrine was completed in 1572, and in 1971 the present Basilica was consecrated. 
Citation – Marian Library Holy Card Collection ML.031

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.


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