Second Friday in January

Nuestra Señora Gaucha del Mate, Rufino, Santa Fe, Argentina

In the early 1990s, a group of Argentine Catholics began promoting a new Marian title, "Our Gaucho Lady of Mate," after the native tea popular throughout South America. Having visited Argentina and sampled the invigorating beverage, Pope John Paul II gave the group his written blessing in her name. The Salesian priest Domingo Lancellotti recruited María Inés Rosñiski to paint the Virgin's new image. Of Ukrainian descent like many people in the mate-producing area of Apóstoles in Misiones province, the artist depicted Our Lady as a local girl with braids, pouring mate from a teapot into a traditional drinking vessel. On July 9, 1994, during the Yerba Mate Expo in Apóstoles, the Virgin was proclaimed "national patron of yerba mate" and a carob-wood statue based on the painting placed in a stone grotto near the Expo site. Many cities in mate-producing regions have since installed statues of Our Lady of Mate in churches and public places. In the province of Santa Fe, Argentina, the annual Regional Mate Meeting now opens, on the second Friday in January, with the processional entry of the Gaucho Virgin, carried by costumed dancers and accompanied by church and governmental officials. (Picture from Darío Rodriguez, "Nuestra Señora Gaucha del Mate," Misioneros de María, www.mision-de-maria.com.ar/virgengaucha.htm.)  

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly