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Santuario Nuestra Señora de las Lajas

Church history from Viva Travel


One day in 1750 (more or less), María Mueses de Quiñónez was walking from Potosí to Ipiales. Upon her back she carried her young, deaf-mute daughter Rosa. They decided to rest at Pastarán cave on the banks of the Río Guáitra. When doña María awoke from a nap, she discovered her daughter had wandered off. Upon finding her, Rosa said, “Mamacita, the Mestiza called to me!” She pointed to an image of a woman holding a child and two men.


Thus begins the story of Santuario Nuestra Señora de las Lajas.A small adobe chapel was built to protect the image of the Virgin in the shallow cave, forming the “altar screen” of the temple. Over the centuries it expanded to the impressive neo-Gothic structure that now spans the Guáitra River. Many Colombians and Ecuadorians make the pilgrimage to this site, beseeching the Virgin Mary for her intercession. The cliff walls are covered with thousands of plaques thanking her for miracles. (The Vatican only recognizes one.)


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Taken on August 25, 2008