Church of Las Lajas in Colombia

Cathedral of Las Lajas, Colombia

Las Lajas Cathedral is a basilica located 7 km from the town of Ipiales in the department of Nariño (Colombia), near the border with Ecuador, in the canyon of the Guaitara River.

Las Lajas is one of the most visited temples in Colombia. The Neo-Gothic cathedral is built directly on the bridge and serves as a frame for the rock icon Senora de las Lajas, an unwrought image of the face of the Virgin Mary.

The Virgin Mary is the main shrine of Colombia. The Indians who live in this area consider the Virgin Mary their queen and honor her as the patroness of the area. Colombians in general are very religious people, it so happened that they had to build their civilization in rather difficult conditions, as a result, they have a deep belief that in order to survive, man just needs God.

There is a beautiful legend associated with the emergence of the Colombian cathedral of Las Lajas.

Legend

Several centuries ago there was an Indian woman living in the Colombian village of Potosi, her name was Maria Musis de Quiñones. She often visited the nearby town of Ipiales. Her way always went through a bridge, not far from the bridge was a cave. The woman was very afraid of the place, so when she passed by it, she tried not to linger. One day Mary took her daughter Rosa, who was deaf and mute from birth, with her. They were walking the usual way, but then bad weather caught up with them on the road. The woman and her little girl had to hide in one of the caves. While they were waiting in the cave for the bad weather, the girl decided to climb on the rocks of the cave. And then the girl’s voice broke out in the silence, on one of the stones Rose saw an image of the Virgin Mary with Jesus in her arms and exclaimed: “Mama, look here a mestizo with a little mestizo in her arms and two mestizos beside her.”

Mary was insanely happy that her Rosa had spoken. In her joy, the woman picked up the baby and ran away. People could not understand why the girl suddenly spoke, and no one paid attention to Maria’s story about the drawing on the stone. A few days later, Rosa disappeared, the woman did not know what to think, no one from the villagers did not see the girl. Then Maria decided to go to the cave, and she was not mistaken, the girl was there. Rosa told her mother, as if the woman from that image was calling her to herself. From then on, Mary and her daughter visited the cave often, bringing candles and flowers to this miraculous image and praying to it. They did not tell anyone about their ritual.

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It might have remained a secret if it were not for one incident. One day Rosa became seriously ill and soon died. Mary was heartbroken, but decided to take the girl to the image of the Virgin Mary in the cave, hoping that she could bring her child back. Mary prayed before the image for a long time, crying and asking the Virgin to bring the child back to life. Then the second miracle happened – the child did come to life. After that incident, Mary decided not to hide the miraculous image on the stone anymore. The residents of her village did not immediately believe the woman, thinking she was completely out of her mind. But, one day she brought a shepherd to the cave, and the villagers came with them. After all the villagers saw with their own eyes the truthfulness of Mary’s words, the shepherd fell to his knees and through his tears told everyone to start reciting the holy rosary, for the Mother of God had appeared to them. On the same day, the first Mass was celebrated at this place, expressing gratitude to God for the presence of his Mother on this earth. All this happened on September 15, 1754. Since then, the Feast of Mary has been celebrated here every year. The place where the image of Mary with Jesus is located was declared a sanctuary. For many years a great number of people come here on pilgrimage. All of them can “meet” Mary, who opened to the world this holy place, because here this simple woman of the people erected a monument.

Around 1794 the first modest chapel was built near the cave, where people brought candles and flowers as a gift to the Virgin Mary.

Between 1796 and 1853, built here the second and then the third temple, but the large number of pilgrims who came here to worship, they could not accommodate. In 1916, with donations from parishioners began construction of the fourth temple, resembling a castle-fortress in neo-Gothic style. It was an idea to combine both sides of a deep gorge with a 30-meter long arch bridge. Construction of the temple continued until August 1948.

The main relic of the cathedral of Las Lajas – the icon on the stone – the altar image, even today attracts a huge number of believers. The rock painting has never been restored, but it is striking with the brightness of the colorful layer supposedly permeating the stone to a depth of more than a meter. For over 250 years, the list of illnesses healed by the miraculous icon has expanded: now everyone is cured, from drug addicts to unfaithful spouses.

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Two Franciscan communities, one Colombian and one Ecuadorian, are currently caring for the shrine.

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The Cathedral of Las Lajas in Colombia is one of the most visited temples in the country. In Spanish, its name is spelled “El santuario de Las Lajas. The place is mystical and mysterious. It is located in an incredibly beautiful and mysterious place.

It is considered one of the most beautiful in the world.

The cathedral, which was built from 1916 to 1949, is not at all famous for the luxurious neo-Gothic architecture that sets it apart from the thousands of churches in Colombia. Crowds of pilgrims come here, to the canyon of the Guaitara River, exclusively for the rock icon of Nuestra Senora de las Lajas, hidden behind the openwork walls of the temple.

The cathedral of Las Lajas stands on a bridge spanning an abyss in the canyon of the Guaitara River, two thousand six hundred meters above sea level. Seven kilometers from the cathedral of Las Lajas is the town of Ipiales. The city belongs to the department of Nariño (Departamento del Nariño), only five kilometers from Ipiales is the border with Ecuador. It is located at an altitude of over two thousand nine hundred meters above sea level and is home to over one hundred thousand people, most of whom are of Indian and Métis descent.

Tourists who come to admire the famous cathedral near the city often stay here. “City of three volcanoes” (la ciudad de los tres volcanes) is the name of Ipiales, and this is because it offers a beautiful view of the three volcanoes. Since the city is located in the border area, it has a special commercial and economic importance. Ipiales is a well-known center for the regional shoe industry, and people from all over the country, as well as Ecuador, come here to shop.

There is a beautiful legend associated with the origins of the Colombian cathedral of Las Lajas. According to local legend, in the fifties of the eighteenth century an image of the Virgin Mary (Nuestra Señora) was found imprinted in stone on the site where the famous cathedral now stands. The Virgin Mary is the main shrine of Colombia. The Indians who live in this area consider the Virgin Mary their queen and venerate her as the patroness of the area. Colombians in general are very religious people, it just so happens that they had to build their civilization in rather difficult conditions, so they have a deep conviction that in order to survive, man just needs God.

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So what is this mysterious legend about the emergence of the Virgin Mary on the rock? Colombians are happy to tell it to foreign travelers. So, several centuries ago in the Colombian village of Potosi there lived an Indian woman, her name was María Mueses de Quiñones. She often visited the nearby town of Ipiales. She always went through a bridge and there was a cave near the bridge. The woman was very afraid of the place, so when she passed by it, she tried not to stay there too long. One day Mary took her daughter Rosa, who was deaf and mute from birth, with her. They were walking the usual way, but then bad weather caught up with them on the road. The woman and her little girl had to hide in one of the caves. While they were waiting in the cave for the bad weather, the girl decided to climb on the rocks of the cave. And then the girl’s voice broke out in the silence, on one of the stones Rose saw an image of the Virgin Mary with Jesus in her arms and exclaimed: “Mama, look here a mestizo with a little mestizo in her arms and two mestizos beside her.”

God knows what Mary experienced at that moment, but we can say for sure that she was insanely happy that her Rosa had spoken. In her joy, the woman picked up the child and ran away. People could not understand why the girl suddenly spoke, and no one paid attention to Maria’s story about the drawing on the stone. A few days later Rose was missing, the woman did not know what to think, no one from the villagers did not see the girl. Then Maria decided to go to the cave, and she was not mistaken, the girl was there. Rosa told her mother, as if the woman from that image was calling her to herself. From then on, Mary and her daughter often visited the cave, bringing candles and flowers to this miraculous image and praying to it. They told no one about their ritual.

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It might have remained a secret if it were not for one incident. One day Rosa became seriously ill and soon died. Mary was heartbroken, but decided to take the girl to the image of the Virgin Mary in the cave, hoping that she could bring her child back. Mary prayed before the image for a long time, crying and asking the Virgin to bring the child back to life. Then the second miracle happened – the child did come to life. After that incident, Mary decided not to hide the miraculous image on the stone anymore. The residents of her village did not immediately believe the woman, thinking she was completely out of her mind. But, one day she brought a shepherd to the cave, and the villagers came with them. After all the villagers saw with their own eyes the truthfulness of Mary’s words, the shepherd fell to his knees and through his tears told everyone to start reciting the holy rosary, for the Mother of God had appeared to them. On the same day, the first Mass was celebrated at this place, expressing gratitude to God for the presence of his Mother on this earth. All this happened on September 15, 1754. Since then, the Feast of Mary has been celebrated here every year. The place where the image of Mary with Jesus is located was declared a sanctuary. For many years a great number of people come here on pilgrimage. All of them can “meet” Mary, who opened to the world this holy place, because here this simple woman of the people erected a monument.

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The image of the Virgin Mary found in the cave was a very large picture, three meters and twenty centimeters high and two meters and three centimeters wide. To guard this holy image, a monk named Gabriel Villafuerte in the same year, 1754, began the construction of the first thatched church in the area. Over the decades, the church was rebuilt and modernized several times. In 1769, for example, the monk Luis Herrero began the construction of a second cathedral on this site, funded by alms collected by the monk in Colombia and Ecuador. The construction of the second cathedral lasted seven years.

The construction of the third cathedral was initiated by Father José María Burbano, with Ecuadorian architects Simon Atapuma and Mariano Aulestia helping his father to build the new cathedral. During the construction of this cathedral, a waterfall was cut into the canyon nearby, and now all visitors to the cathedral can enjoy its beauty. The construction of the fourth cathedral was started in 1916 with the donations of the parishioners. The previous three cathedrals were rebuilt because they were too simple for such a unique relic. The architects of the fourth cathedral were Lucindo Espinosa and the Ecuadorian Gualberto Pérez. In August 1949, the construction of the Cathedral of Las Lajas was completed. Today it is a grandiose Gothic building in the canyon of the river. It feels as if it consists of three large ships that are covered by vaults. Above the Guaitara River, directly from the cathedral at a height of thirty meters is a magnificent arched bridge, made in the same style as the building of this unique temple, which gives the cathedral completeness and a special majesty. The Cathedral of Las Lajas is a great lure for tourists and pilgrims because of its rare beauty in architecture, miraculous image and poetic legend.

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As beautiful as Las Lajas Cathedral is, the main target of foreign tourists is still the main shrine of the temple – the rock image of the Virgin Mary with Jesus. The interior of the Cathedral of Las Lajas is so organized that the image of the saints is the central altar image. It is said that the rich robe of the Virgin Mary was originally adorned with silver and gold stars, as well as jewels. Unfortunately, these decorations have been stolen and restored several times over the lifetime of the image. Crowns have been added to the original image of the saints. They are flanked by the figures of St. Francis and St. Dominic. Since this image was first discovered, it has never been restored, but in spite of this, the colors of the sacred image continue to be rich and vibrant.

Scientists have not been able to figure out either the nature of the origin of the petroglyph or the substances that were used to create it. There is an opinion that the stone on which the image is located is more than one meter deep and soaked in paint. As for the healing properties of the image, they have expanded considerably over more than two hundred years. Originally it was known that the icon cured a girl of congenital deafness, now everyone will tell you that the miraculous image can cure everything – from drug addiction up to marital infidelity. Thousands of stone tablets of gratitude from those healed can attest to this, which are located around the Cathedral of Las Lajas. Clickable 2000 px

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