La Divina Pastora

Harricharan, John Thomas. La Divina Pastora Novena Prayers, 2004.

Country

Trinidad and Tobago

Description

La Divina Pastora is the Spanish translation for Holy Shepherdess. The idea and devotion for this Mary first originated in Spain, among the providence of Andalusia, which is believed to be a sheep-rearing community. The story is that “...Mary, the mother of God-Man Jesus, appeared to a Monk, Isidore of Seville, in the guise of an Andalusian Shepherdess and made known to him that her role is to bring people into the sheepfold of Her Divine Son” (3). Isidore of Seville then spread the devotion all over Spain, gaining support from Pope Pius XI who gave it world-wide significance. Devotions for this Mary spread all over, even reaching Trinidad and Tobago. Various churches, shrines and other places of worship in Trinidad are solely dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The one that is most recognized is La Divina Pastora, which is located in Siparia Trinidad and serves the purpose of being both a church and a shrine. There is “...a Catholic Festival that is celebrated at this location every year on the third Sunday after Easter” (3), bringing together multiple religions, races and cultures. At this festival, there is a litany of prayers and feasting and a procession of the statue of Mary for this Church. More specifically, the statue is carried through the streets of the town with the rosary recited and Marian hymns sung. The statue used is one that was brought to the island in 1730 by Spanish monks, becoming the symbolic representation of La Divina Pastora. This statue “...is short, possesses long black hair, copper colored skin, small cheeks, kindly eyes, a tiny nose and a staff in her hand” (5). Devotions to La Divina Pastora grew among groups of East Indians in Trinidad because they viewed Her as being similar to the goddess of Kali who was the goddess of famine, destruction, illnesses and other forms of disasters. East Indians endured hostile social environments, slavery, marital infidelity, illnesses and many murders among their community in Trinidad. They looked to La Divina Pastora as being a representation for the goddess of Kali in which they poured out their woes, distress, and sorrows to it in exchange for favors of healing, peace and proper husbands. This is how the East Indians would celebrate their devotion to this Mary but it brought great controversy to the Catholic Church as this is not what La Divina Pastora was intended for. The whole purpose of the feast day and general devotion of the Mary is to bring together all people of different races and religions into the Kingdom that her son Jesus Christ established (9). 'Catholic' means "Universal" and the vision for the world is to gather people of diverse backgrounds and faith traditions and turn the world “...into one Brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God” (9). Many people identify with and relate to this Mary, helping to break down racial, religious and traditional barriers among various communities in Trinidad and around the world. Mary’s original message to Monk Isidore of Seville is being fulfilled through a common sharing of this devotion of La Divina Pastora, bringing peace, unity and love to all people.

Harricharan, John Thomas. La Divina Pastora Novena Prayers, 2004.

Popular Devotions

Young children have their first hair cut in her presence, devotees bring offerings to her image, and there is a yearly festival in the town when the statue is carried around and the rosary recited among everyone in the community.

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. 

Amen.

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