October 31


Virgin de Río Blanco y Paypaya, San Salvador, Jujuy, Argentina

On this day the image of Our Lady of the Rosary, patron of Jujuy province, goes from its altar in the side chapel of Jujuy Cathedral to its original Sanctuary of Rio Blanco. Thousands of pilgrims from all over accompany the Virgin on this journey. They walk for miles, many barefoot, in keeping with tradition. The procession leaves the Cathedral by candlelight, before dawn. Along the way, “misachicos,” family groups bringing their own patron saints' images covered with flowers, join in, singing greetings to the Virgin. These groups are usually accompanied by their own musicians dressed in gaudy colors and using traditional cane and wooden flutes. From time to time the huge pipe-shaped "erke," sighing with force, sends its clarion over the singing voices, and the sound of the drums resounds in the sunrise. Daybreak finds the procession at its goal, the small Sanctuary of Rio Blanco, where fireworks mark the joy the Virgin brings.  

The story goes that in colonial times the Virgin of the Rosary, with a radiant mantle and small baton, appeared and turned back Tobas warriors attacking the Spanish settlement. After the battle, a small image of unknown origin, carrying a staff, was found in the combat zone beneath a big earpod tree. This is the image now in the Cathedral, crowned Oct. 31, 1920. Usually dressed in a white gown and light blue veil, the statue depicts the Virgin standing with the child in her left arm.

Another statue of Our Lady resides in the Sanctuary in the town of Río Blanco ("White" River, "Paypaya" in the native language), where another great celebration takes place January 6. (Information from "Virgen de Rio Blanco," Jujuy.com, www.jujuy.com/?page_id=61; and other sources. Picture from www.turismo.jujuy.gov.ar:83.)

Also commemorated this date:

Virgen de las Islas, Villa Paranacito, Entre Ríos, Argentina
Maria Llave Espiritual de la Fe, El Jordan, Pereira, Risaralda, Colombia (Mary Spiritual Key of Faith). Apparition, 1990.
Gua Maria Sendang Sriningsih, Gayamharjo, Prambanan, Java, Indonesia. Torchlight procession closing holy month.
Santa Maria a Mare, Fermo, Ascoli Piceno, Marche, Italy (St. Mary by the Sea). Fresco crowned, 1683. Pilgrimage on Ascension Day.
Santa Marija ta’ Gesù, Rabat, Malta (St. Mary of Jesus). Church dedicated, 1790.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly