Caacupé (Cordillera).

June 22, 2012

View of the stained glass upon exiting the church.

Every year on December 8th (the date of the immaculate conception of the virgin Mary), thousands of Paraguayans make a Catholic pilgrimage to the city of Caacupé, often walking miles on their knees, to pay homage to Our Lady of the Miracles. Legend has it that a 16th-century indigenous convert carved her from wood in the jungle and she proceeded to perform myriad miracles such as saving him from a flood. Legions in Paraguay still ascribe to her power of spawning supernatural acts and many go to great lengths to pray to her as we witnessed during our visit. This is one of the most prominent ways in which Catholicism expresses its strong influence on the culture in this country.

On a lighter note, Caacupé is also known for being the originator of chipa, a hard bread widely consumed throughout Paraguay and made of Paraguayan cheese and anise. Chipa dries out quickly, so if not eaten fresh, it will turn hard as a rock and become largely inedible (at least to my tastes). Not particularly a personal food of choice, but a Paraguayan staple nonetheless.

Santuario de la Virgen de Caacupé. Pilgrimage culmination point.

Murals (and models) that line the walls depicting the historical legend.

The shrine from above.

A closer glimpse.

Paraguayan flag up on the mirador.

A gloomy day (love it!).

Birds’ eye view of the city.

The team.

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