The Salta Miracle
- Published: Friday, 09 September 2016 13:56
September is a special month for Northern Argentina. If you visit this region during these days, you will realize that peculiar feeling is in the air: The Miracle. Thousands of people move from every corner of the province and the country, even from abroad, to the city of Salta. This is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years, one of the oldest and biggest religious gatherings in the country along with the one dedicated to the Virgen de Luján.
It all began in 1592 when Fray Francisco de Victoria, who had been present ten years earlier at the founding of the city of Salta, sent two statues from Spain: a crucified Jesus for Salta’s main church and a Virgen del Rosario for Córdoba.
This story takes us to El Callao port, in Peru, where the locals spotted two wooden coffins floating in the waters. They never knew what happened to the ship or the crew who brought the figures from Europe. Moved by this strange event, viceroy García Hurtado de Mendoza decided to follow bishop Victoria’s will and helped sending both presents to their original destination.
After some 2000 kilometers by mule, the expedition finally arrived in Salta to drop the crucified Lord before continuing towards Cordoba with the madonna. An improvised welcome was organized by local authorities who decided to keep Jesus’ statue practically forgotten in the Altar de las Ánimas for a hundred years.
It was the year 1692 and only a few people took the figure of Christ into account until the events of September 13rd. A series of earthquakes completely destroyed the city of Esteco, geographical and commercial centre of the region, and provoked serious damages in Salta. At the same time, the celebration for Virgin Mary’s birth was taking place at the Cathedral and a rich family had left a statue of her there for some days. It is said that during the catastrophic events of those days, believers entered the Cathedral and spotted Virgin Mary’s statue at Jesus’ feet in a begging attitude. With supernatural precision and convenience, one of the priests heard a voice in his head stating that if they didn’t take both statues out for a procession in the streets of Salta, the earthquakes wouldn’t stop. The bells rang, people was emotionally touched, Jesus and Mary were carried around the city and, believe it or not, the earthquakes stopped.
This is how a hundreds of years old tradition began and the corresponding pact between Salta and the Lord and Virgin of the Miracle was sealed. Over half a million people walk around the city every year to honor both protectors up to 20 de Febrero Monument where they renew their commitment with them, hoping earthquakes never strike the city again.
As September begins, it is normal to spot groups of people walking, riding their bikes or even horses through the province’s roads heading to the capital where they will participate in the oldest religious gathering in the country, one that has been held every September 15th without interruption since 1692 and will surely continue to happen in one of the provinces with the heaviest influence of the Holy Church.