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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Soledad, Patron Saint of Oaxaca

This is my favorite patron saint.  It is almost surely because she dresses in black, I admit that, but I do have a fondness for her. The great thing about Oaxaca is that there is a tradition of wood carving that means that these wonderful creches of her are everywhere.

Where did she come from?  There are many legends, but this is the one I prefer.  In 1620 a mule train bound for Guatemala camped outside the city of Oaxaca discovered an extra mule which did not belong to anyone in the group. The mule refused to move and when prodded rolled over and died. When the pack it carried was opened, it was found to contain the statue of the Virgin of Soledad. Taking this as a sign from heaven, the inhabitants built first a shrine, later a church and finally the imposing basilica which stands today on the spot where the statue first appeared.

 She resides in the church dedicated to her, the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.  Construction began in 1682, it was designed by Father Fernando Méndez, sanctioned by the Viceroy Tomas Aquino Manrique de la Cerda, and consecrated in 1690 by Bishop Isidro Siraña y Cuenca.  This is from another local church that has her dressed much more humbly, which is my preference.

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