Have you ever wondered about the strong connection that Hispanics and the Virgin Mary have? Going beyond simple Catholic faith, Our Lady and Latinos have a special bond.
Perhaps the most important reason that Latinos are so devoted to the Virgin Mary is due to specific apparitions that she has made in Latin America.
Many devotees attribute miracles and other interventions to the Virgin they revere, they have a direct, powerful connection to the Virgin.
Beyond personal miracles, another common theme that joins Latinos and the Virgin Mary is the protection of the poor and the marginalized, a group which unfortunately has historically encompassed many throughout the continent.
Hispanics and The Virgin Mary: Apparitions
Your opinion about the accuracy of the appearances of Mary depends much on your personal belief. Catholics in Latin America feel that they are the truly the representation of the Virgin Mary.
Although the Catholic church does not officially recognize every reported apparition of the Virgin, those it recognizes are considered to be authentic expressions of divine intervention.
The instances remind believers of some aspect of the Christian message. These apparitions are evidence of the Virgin’s continuing presence and intervention in the life of the Church in Hispanic religion.
Importance of La Virgen in History
Apparitions of the Virgin Mary can inspire such devotion that, in fact, they change history. The biggest example in Latin America is the Virgen de Guadalupe. When Juan Diego reported this vision in 1531, the church leaders in Rome didn’t pay much attention.
However, devotion to the Virgen added some eight million new Catholics in Latin America in only six years, at a time that Catholicism in Europe faced great challenges.
The Virgen de Guadalupe continues to have a major impact on Latin Catholicism. The basilica dedicated to her is the most significant for Hispanics and the Virgin Mary, and is actually the third largest Catholic church in the world.
There are others, however, who consider apparitions an example of religious syncretism, or the combining of contradictory schools of thought into one system of belief.
Apparitions of the Virgin in Latin America
While Latin American Catholics tended to be Marian (devotees of Mary) no matter which country they are from, there is a unique cultural and national aspect to that devotion: most Latinos venerate “their” Virgen.
Even the Virgen de Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas, is for the most part venerated primarily by Mexicans.
Many countries or regions have been blessed by the apparition of the Virgin Mary: in Costa Rica, the Virgen de Los Ángeles (also called La Negrita); in Venezuela, Nuestra Señora de Coromoto; in Paraguay, the Virgen de Caacupé; in Argentina, Nuestra Señora del Rosario de San Nicolás; and in Colombia, Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Chiquinquirá.
These Virgins are the source of much devotion, often inspiring pilgrimages which draw thousands of people. In many cases, they are the patron saints of the country where they appeared.
Not surprisingly, the bond between Hispanics and the Virgin Mary continues in Latinos in the United States. Visiting a primarily Latin area, you are likely to see numerous images venerating the Virgin.