Monthly Archives: May 2022
Do you love history?
If so, the city of Cuernavaca, about 100 km (64 miles) south of Mexico City, is a must-see. It is filled with history!
For centuries the affluent have built luxurious villas here, attracted by the benign climate and the ever-present flowers which seem to be always in bloom! It continues to the present day to be a popular weekend get-away for residents of Mexico City. Adding to its appeal: On a clear day the magnificent volcano Popocatepetl dominates the landscape!
The conquistador, Hernan Cortez, arrived in Cuernavaca in 1521 and made it his home until 1540 when he returned to Spain.
It was in this city that Cortez built the first sugar mill in the Americas, in 1535. Not only did he build a church, and a sugar mill, he also built a palace! Tourists in the city can still visit the Palacio Cortez which he constructed in 1531. It is absolutely monumental in size and is situated close to the zocalo (the central plaza of the town).
Cortez built a church dedicated to St. Joseph in 1523 in the outskirts of the city, in an area called Tlaltenango. It is reputed to be the oldest church in the country. Within a few years the church had become too small to accommodate the growing population of sugar workers and their families. Cortes then built a second larger church, beside the original one. It is this second church which houses the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Miracles. She has a fascinating history. Here is her story—
In 1720 two young men were travelling to Cuernavaca from Acapulco. They stayed for the night at the posada (small inn) of Dona Agustina in Tlatltenango. Being most handsome and genteel they “created something of a sensation in the pueblo”! The next day before departing they asked Dona Agustina if they could leave a large wooden box in the room, promising to pick it up on their return. She happily obliged.
Two months later the pair had still not returned to claim their property! A while later Dona Agustina noticed something peculiar. Very peculiar indeed. One night she heard music, “heavenly” music, streaming from the room. Becoming alarmed, she roused her family. She didn’t want to investigate the odd happenings by herself! The entire family accompanied her to the room. More surprises were in store! Not only did they hear the music, they also saw lights radiating from the box. And they were mystified by an “exotic perfume” which surrounded the box.
On August 30, Dona Augustina travelled to Cuernavaca to inform the civic and the ecclesiastical authorities of the mysterious occurrences. She first went to see Fray Pedro Arana, who was the pastor of the Church of the Assumption (now the Cathedral of the city) and the Guardian of the Franciscan Convent. Next she went to see the mayor of the city at the Palacio.
Both agreed to come to the posada that very evening to investigate the extraordinary incidents. Upon entering the room they ordered that all lights be extinguished. Soft rays of light began pouring forth from the box! When the perplexed friar pried open the box all were astonished to discover in its depths an elegant statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was sumptuously attired in a red and blue tunic. The amazed onlookers promptly bore the statue in procession to the ancient church of St. Joseph, where she resides to the present day.
Over the years the statue has acquired a new title: She is now known as OUR LADY OF THE MIRACLES (Nuestra Senora de Los Milagros) because of the many prodigies and healings she has worked for her devotees. One of her particular graces is the granting of a safe delivery to expectant mothers. Multitudes of ex-votos (testimonials of gratitude) in the sanctuary give witness to the providential care of Our Lady of the Miracles.
On Dec. 8, 1954, the most Reverend Sergio Mendez Arceo, the seventh Bishop of Cuernavaca, adorned the metre-high statue of Our Lady of the Miracles with a magnificent gold crown. And declared her as the Queen and official Patroness of the city and diocese of Cuernavaca.
Every September 8, her feastday, crowds come from all parts of Morelos to pay her homage.
“Many are the graces which the Virgin works!” they say—to the present day. Beautiful murals which adorn the facade of the church display its history of devotion to the Christian faith and its love for Our Lady of the Miracles.