For Bolivian believers and worshipers around the world, the Virgen de la Candelaria Festival is one of the most important religious festivities they celebrate in Latin America.
Every February the 2nd and August the 5th, the so called “Patron Saint of Bolivia” gathers hundreds of believers in a spectacular festival of colors, tradition and culture.
The Festival of the Virgin de la Candelaria en Bolivia happens in the Copacabana peninsula by the shore of Lake Titicaca, one of the world’s largest lakes and former home of the Inca Tribe.
The music and traditional dancers invade the streets to commemorate the arrival of the Virgen to the city of Copacabana more than five hundred years ago and, even though the Virgen never leaves the Sanctuary, the believer’s and traveler’s faith invades the city with the spirit of celebration and joy.
What Is the Legend About?
According to legend, Francisco Tito Yupanqui was an amateur sculptor who wished with all his might to create an image worthy of veneration while reflecting on Mary’s beauty. The virgin after many prayers, granted Francisco the miracle of artistic grace. His ability which led him to create the image which we know today as the Virgen de la Candelaria or Señora de Copacabana.
Like many invocations of the Virgin, this one adapts to its location and inhabitants. It borrows their facial features and presents herself with the garb of an Inca princess, whose cult achieved the unity of the worship of the sun, earth and moon which the ancient Incas professed, into a new form of faith.
Every February the 2nd at this small village located 140 kms from the Bolivian capital, Inca folklore and Catholic faith blend in a wonderful celebration where travelers bring their offerings to the Virgen and the gods of the lake.
The magic happens every ocassion in this town regardless of the passage of time and conquest that since then, preserves its misticism and magical charm. The “Pacha Mama” or “Mother Earth” is now the Virgin Mary.
Since 1538, travelers from all around the world attend the Festival of the Virgin de la Candelaria en Bolivia yearly, and its devotion spread to Argentina, Perú, Colombia, Brazil, Spain and Venezuela where the devotees celebrate the Virgen and exhibit their culture and tradition in spite of being far away from their magical land.
When to Visit the Festival of the Virgin de la Candelaria en Bolivia
To visit Copacabana on February the 2nd or August the 5th is a unique experience for the traveler because the celebration is full of mysticism, tradition, ancient rituals and customs.
The town is going 500 years in time to celebrate with the Incas in their magical lake. This tradition means dancing to the rythm of ancient flutes and drums among colorful costumes and masks of gods and taking a journey alongside a whole village in the unattainable quest of the “Light” of the Candelaria. The virgin in return, year after year, guides the path taking them to safe harbor under her mantle of. It is in a few words, an unforgettable experience.