March 18

Virgen de los Dolores de Soriano, Colón, Querétaro, Mexico

In the land of the Jonaz Chicimecas, in the mountains north of Mexico City, Spanish Dominicans founded the Mission of Our Lady of Sorrows of Zimapán in 1687, enshrining there a statue of the Sorrowful Virgin from Spain. In 1703, when that mission moved further into the Sierra Gorda in response to native unrest, the image went to a nearby church in the mining territory of Maconí. But its new sanctuary soon burned in the flames of rebellion. Some years later, a Dominican friar found the old statue in the ruins. Fray Luis de Guzmán, sent by the Viceroy to pacify the area and subdue the Jonaz, placed the recovered statue in a nearby church. In the late 1770s, Franciscan Fray Guadalupe Soriano moved it to a new mission at Bucareli, and then to the Mission of Santo Domingo de Soriano, near present-day Colón, where it worked many miracles and attracted so many pilgrims that a larger shrine became necessary. The first stone was placed on March 19, 1880, which was Friday of Sorrows that year, Viernes de Dolores, the Friday before Palm Sunday, when many Spanish communities honor Our Lady of Sorrows. Bishop Manuel Rivera Muñoz consecrated the new church on March 18, 1912. Colón celebrates its main fiesta on Sorrows Friday and the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15.  

In 1964, the statue was canonically crowned in a huge ceremony by authority of Pope Paul VI. In 2009, during an even more spectacular ritual, the shrine received Pope Benedict XVI's designation of Basilica Minor. 

Over the centuries, so many people have left ex voto offerings in thanks for answered prayers that in 2006 the shrine opened a Museum of Miracles next door. In 2007, the Gutiérrez Hernández family brought a metal painting, commissioned from local artist Alejandro Padilla González, illustrating the dramatic story of their daughter María José: in 2004, the girl fell into a well when no one was looking, and by the time another child saw her floating body it was lifeless, swollen, and purple. All attempts to resuscitate the girl failed until the stricken family called on the Mother of God. When she finally came to in the hospital, María José said that the woman who saved her was the little Virgin of Sorrows. In a neighboring state, a woman dying of AIDS saw news of the miracle on television and begged to be taken to the shrine in Colón, where she recovered, so completely that she went back to work and commissioned Padilla González to paint a tribute in thanks. Over the entrance to the Museum of Miracles are the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary from Luke 1:37, "For nothing will be impossible for God."

Sources include:

bulletThe shrine's site, www.santuariodesoriano.org (now www.basilicadesoriano.mx)
bullet"Querétaro: Milagro realizado por la Virgen de Soriano," Camino Neocatecumenalwww.camino-neocatecumenal.org.) 

Also commemorated this date:

bulletMadunuccia, Ajaccio, Corsica, France (Our Lady of Mercy). Fête, procession, renewal of vow made during 1656 plague. 
bulletSchöne Maria, Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany (Beautiful Mary). Church dedicated, 1519.
bulletNostra Signora della Misericordia, Savona, Liguria, Italy (Our Lady of Mercy). Apparition, 1536.
bulletVirgen de Arrate, Eibar, Guipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain. c1300 statue crowned, 1929. Fiesta Sept. 8.
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly