December 18

Virgen de la Soledad, Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico

One version of the story is that a mule with no owner wandered into a pack train on its way from Veracruz to Guatemala City. On December 18, 1620, when the group reached Oaxaca, the mule fell down outside the church of St. Sebastian, which contained a chapel to the Virgin of Soledad. The animal wouldn't budge, so the drivers took the large box off its back and found inside a statue of the resurrected Jesus and the head and hands for an image of the Virgin. Some say the mule then arose with renewed energy. Others say it died. In any case, the Virgin's statue, clothed in beautiful garments that hide her missing body, became a focus of devotion in southern Mexico. In 1670, Bishop Sariñana y Cuenca consecrated her sanctuary, later adorned with an intricate baroque facade. Pope Pius X authorized the statue to be crowned on January 18, 1909. In 1959 the Vatican honored the church with the title of Basilica Minor. Usually translated "Solitude," Soledad here really means grief. The Virgen de la Soledad is the mourning mother of the crucified Jesus, between Good Friday and Easter. She is the patron saint of Oaxaca, where her fiesta on this date is far from sorrowful. Costumed natives arrive in procession to perform traditional dances outside the church. (Information from Thalia Ehrlich Garduño, "La Virgen de la Soledad,", and other sources. Photo from Infinitas Gracias, "NS de Soledad de Oaxaca," Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Also commemorated this date:

bulletExpectatio Partus (Expectation of Delivery), Catholic Church (formerly); Nuestra Señora de la O, Spain and colonies. Feast of Mary's pregnancy.
bulletVirgen del Carmen, San Luis del Carmen, Chalatenango, El Salvador (15-18)
bulletOur Lady of Expectation, Saint Thomas Mount, Chennai, Madras, Kerala, India
bulletVirgen del Paso, Itapé, Guairá, Paraguay
bulletNuestra Señora del Prado, Lima, Peru (Our Lady of the Meadow) in Augustinian convent church
bulletNuestra Señora de los Remedios, Cebu, Philippines
bulletNossa Senhora das Alfândegas, Lisbon, Portugal (Our Lady of the Customs Office)
bulletSanta María de Veruela, Vera de Moncayo, Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain. Monastery church consecrated, 1248 (now secularized).
bulletVirgen de los Remedios, Villarrasa, Huelva, Andalucia, Spain. Apparition, 1503. Feast August 15.
bullet María Santísima de la Esperanza, Ronda, Málaga, Andalucia, Spain (Our Lady of Hope)
bulletNuestra Señora de la Esperanza, La Guancha, Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly