Virgin of the Valley

Virgin of the Valley
Location: Catamarca, Catedral de la Vírgen del Valle, Sarmiento entre República y San Martín
Date: When12/08/2017

The center of the City of Catamarca boasts the imposing cathedral of Our Lady of the Valley, Patron Saint of the city. Throughout the year, thousands of faithful believers from all parts of the country flock to see the image of the virgin.

The spectacular temple of Our Lady of the Valley is the most important in the Province of Catamarca. It was designed by architect and town planner Luis Caravatti and constructed between 1859 and 1875 with a strong Neo-classical style.

At that time, Vicario Seguro worked very hard to build this cathedral. In fact, he persuaded Justo Jose de Urquiza to make a donation of a sum of money for its construction. Certainly, many pilgrims also collaborated on the same purpose.

The temple is so superb that not only does it attract the pilgrims but also the visitors to Catamarca, who cannot miss this architectural jewel. Its façade has a big entrance hall which extends towards the sidewalk and two side towers almost forty meters high.

  • The imposing cathedral of Our Lady of the Valley

    The imposing cathedral of Our Lady of the Valley

  • Patron Saint of the city

    Patron Saint of the city

  • Offerings


  • Almost forty meters high

    Almost forty meters high

  • The Patron Saint of Tourism

    The Patron Saint of Tourism

At both sides, there are several chapels to house those who beg or thank the Virgin of the Valley. Inside the building, visitors are delighted with the astounding design of the dome portraying the assumption of Virgin Mary into Heaven and other great pictures, works by Italian artist Orlando Orlandi, which display passages of the story of the Virgin.

Once upon a Time…

The vision of Our Lady of the Valley appeared between 1618 and 1620 in a cave located at Choya, Province of Catamarca. The story goes that a native to the service of Manuel Salazar, had been listening to several voices and steps during an entire afternoon until he was surprised by a group of young women walking stealthily towards the mountain carrying lamps and flowers.

Beyond such surprise, the observer preferred to go back to his place. However, curiosity increased and the following morning, again in the same place, he decided to follow the footprints of these young women. After walking several miles, he bumped into a small stone niche surrounded by vestiges of fire pits and many flowers. He went on walking until he ran into the image of the Virgin Mary, with her light brown face and hands in a gesture as if she was praying.

This discovery was kept in secret. However, later on the native learned how to love and worship the image, which resembled his own people very much and he resolved to tell this secret to his master.

In January 1890, brother Orellana ordered that a crown should be made for the Virgin. The first holy cards depicting the virgin image began to be printed as well. In 1941, the Coronation of the Virgin Mary celebrated its first 50 years and the bishop of Catamarca commissioned Orlando Orlandi to paint the story of the Virgin on artistic canvas. And in that same year, the cathedral was recognized as a National Historical Monument.

The Dark Madonna, at a time when an image of a virgin with light brown skin was unusual, was recognized as the Patron Saint of Tourism in Argentina on March 20, 1974 under the administration of Juan Domingo Perón.

About Miracles and Works

For more than 400 years of worship, the faithful attribute a great number of miraculous events to Our Lady of the Valley: the healing of terminal illnesses, like blindness and paralysis. She is well-known for saving the country from worm and locust plagues. Besides, according to legend, she performed several events of resurrection throughout history, allowing her to reinforce great fascination from her followers.

One of the best known and celebrated miracles by the faithful is associated with a peasant from the Province of Córdoba who, after becoming ill, claimed the Virgin for protection as he promised to visit her sanctuary.

In a matter of seconds, he was cured and the peasant got up to fulfill his promise. In those days, in the church of Catamarca many people became sad because of the sudden disappearance of an old and precious silver jug. After a few days, the peasant arrived in the church holding a jug with his hands. He said that he had left his house to fulfill his promise and during the journey he and his mule became thirsty to death. So, he entrusted himself to the Virgin again and found a jug from where he and his mule could drink. The priest in charge of the church of Catamarca confirmed that that silver jug was the jug lost in the sacristy.

Not only is the virgin of Our Lady of the Valley of Catamarca the Patron Saint of Tourism in Argentina but also of the whole territory of Northeastern Argentina. She is worshiped by thousands and thousands if faithful members of the congregation who wonder at her miracles and apparitions.

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Autor Pablo Etchevers Fotografo Pablo Etchevers

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