I was just goofing around today and I found this pretty awesome looking Cathedral in Columbia and the background story about an aparition of the Virgin Mary. This is the story about the aparition from traditioninaction.org.
In Spanish las lajas means “the rocks.” This image was imprinted on the rocks of a gorge above the Guaitara River in Colombia near the border of Ecuador. It has the singular characteristic of having been painted by Angels. The image is situated inside a cave very high in the mountains, and was completely unknown until it was discovered in the mid-18th century by an Indian.
It is not painted, but mysteriously imprinted in the rock. The colors are not applied in a surface layer of paint or other material, but penetrate deep into the rock. No one knows how the work was done. Certainly it has no natural geological cause. I have never heard of any case where nature reproduced human faces with such perfection.
The image represents a noble Lady from an uncertain period, most probably 16th- or 17th- century Spain. How such a picture came to be in that cave unnoticed by anyone remains a mystery. These circumstances seem to indicate that it is an akeropita image – akeropita in Greek means not made by human hands, id est, painted by the Angels. . .
. . .Back in the 18th century, Maria Mueses de Quinones, an Indian woman from the village of Potosi, Colombia, often walked the six miles between her village and the neighboring one of Ipiales. One day in 1754 as she was making the journey, she approached the place called Las Lajas (the Rocks), where the trail passes through a deep gorge of the Guaitara River. Maria never liked this part of the trail. There were rumors that a cave in Las Lajas was haunted. Such superstitions lingered amongst the converted Christian Indians.
She was carrying her daughter Rosa, a deaf-mute, on her back in the Indian fashion. By the time she had climbed to Las Lajas, she was weary and sat on a rock to rest. The child got down from her back to play.
After a while, Rosa emerged from the cave shouting: “Mama, there is a woman in here with a boy in her arms!” Maria was beside herself with the fright since this was the first time she had heard her daughter speak. She did not see the figures the girl was talking about, nor did she want to. She grabbed the child and hastened on to Ipiales.
When she recounted what had happened, no one took her seriously at first. However, as the news spread, some asked if perhaps it were true. After all, the child was now able to speak.
A few days later, the child Rosa disappeared from her home. After looking everywhere, the anguished Maria guessed that her daughter must have gone to the cave. The child had often said that the Lady was calling her. Maria ran to Las Lajas and found her daughter in front of a noble Lady and playing affectionately with a Child who had come down from His mother’s arms to let the girl enjoy His divine tenderness. Maria fell to her knees before this beautiful spectacle; she had seen the Blessed Virgin and the Divine Infant.
Fearful of ridicule, Maria kept quiet about the episode. But she and Rosa frequently went to the cave to place wild flowers and candles in the cracks of the rocks.
Months went by, with Maria and Rosa keeping their secret. Finally, one day the girl fell gravely ill and died. A distraught Maria decided to take her daughter’s body to Las Lajas to ask the Lady to restore Rosa to life.
Moved by the sadness of Maria’s unrelenting supplications, the Blessed Virgin obtained Rosa’s resurrection from her Divine Son. Overflowing with joy, Maria returned home. It was not long before a crowd had gathered to hear what had happened. Early the next morning everyone went to Las Lajas, each one wanting to check the details for themselves.
That was when the marvelous picture of Our Lady on the wall of the grotto was discovered. Maria Muese de Quinones could not recall noticing it until then. The Child Jesus is in Our Lady’s arms. On one side of Our Lady is St. Francis; on the other is St. Dominic. Her delicate and regal features are those of a Latin American, perhaps an Indian. Her abundant black hair covers her like a mantle (The two-dimensional crown is metal and was added by devotees much later on). The Indians had no doubt: this was their Queen.
The Las Lajas Cathedral was built between 1916 and 1944 on the bridge crossing the river gorge in Ipiales, Columbia, after the cave site of the painting resulted in many miraculous healings from the time of its discovery. The Church is positioned in such a way the image of the Virgin Mary is the high altar of the church. It is a very popular pilgrimage destination and is very impressive architecturally as well, not to mention the really amazing story behind the aparition.