The festival of “La Candelaria” is celebrated every year, especially in Spanish-speaking countries, on 2 February and coincides with the celebration of the presentation of the Lord and the ritual cleansing of the Virgin Mary. In the mid-fifth century this celebration was known as the “Light Festival”.

Some claim it started in the east with the name of the “Encounter” and then extended to the west in the 6th century.

It is not known with certainty when the candle processes related to this festival started, but as early as the 10th century they went hand in hand with the ceremony.

The invocation of the Virgin of the Candelaria or Our Lady of the Candelaria originated in Tenerife (Spain). According to tradition, the Virgin appeared in 1392 to two indigenous “Guanches” who were herding their flock. When they reached the mouth of a canyon, they saw that the cattle did not want to continue.

One of the shepherds went to see what was going on and saw a small wooden statue of a woman lying in front of the herd. The lady had a candle in her left hand and carried a child on her right arm, while the little boy held a golden bird in his hands.

It turned out to be The Virgin of the Candelaria, patron saint of the Canary Islands.

The name finds its origin in Argentina, where the celebration was first celebrated in the city of Candelaria (Misiones), derived from the ancient Jesuit minority. When leaving the church, the statue was met with a huge applause.

Later the traditional dance of toritos and fireworks was added to the procession. A nice fact is that in Guaraní, province of Buenos Aires, the Virgen de la Candelaria is the patron saint of the city.

In Copacabana – La Paz, in Bolivia in 1583, the statue of the Virgin of the Candelaria de Copacabana was carved by Francisco “Tito Yupanqui”. The Copacabana temple is the second oldest temple in Latin America.

Here is the Virgin of the Candelaria patron of Aquile (Cochabamba), Rurrenabaque (Beni), Samaipata (Santa Cruz), Azurduy (Chuquisaca) and the community of La Angostura in Tarija.

In the church of San Antonio, on the island of Mancera in Valdivia (Chile), there are reports of the cult of the Virgin of the Candelaria from the year 1645. It is revered in the mining sectors in the north of the country.

In the Chilean city of Copiapó there is a shrine of the Virgen de la Candelaria and in the city of Mincha, municipality of Canela, there is a temple where there is a lot of dedication to the Candelaria and which has been a national historical monument since 1980.

The city of Medellín in Colombia was originally built as “Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Medellín” and therefore the Virgin appears on the shield of the city.

Similarly, the first cathedral of the current Archdiocese of Medellín was the Church of Our Lady of the Candelaria. Other Colombian cities also have it as a patron.

In Puno, in southern Peru, the Fiesta de la Candelaria is one of the most important in the region. There the image of the Virgen de la Candelaria is taken in procession through the streets of the city, accompanied by dances and traditional music.

In November 2014, UNESCO declared the Feast of the Virgin of the Candelaria de Puno an intangible heritage of humanity.

Other countries where the Virgin of the Candelaria is celebrated are Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela and many more.


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