South America


The Dominicans and Our Lady of Chiquinquirá


For a brief history of the conquest of Colombia, click here.

Antony de Santana, the Spanish conquistador of New Granada (Colombia and the surroundings), was a worshipper of Our Lady of the Rosary. He resided in Tunja, where the Dominicans had their priory and the church of Santo Domingo, and possessed a hacienda in Sutamarchan and in Chiquinquirá. 

In 1555 he domiciled in Suta, nearby Chiquinquirá, and built a chapel.

In 1562 he ordered Alonso de Narváez, Spanish painter inTunja, to create a painting of the Virgin of the Rosary as a present for the Dominican Andreas de Jadraque, who lived in Tunja. De Narváez painted in pigments from the soil, herbs and flowers of the region of Colombia, and his canvas was a rough 125x110 cm cloth woven by Indians.


The image of Mary is about one meter high, and stands above a half moon. She has a little, sweet smile, both her face and the Child's are lightly coloured, and she looks as if she's about to take a step. She wears a white toque, a rose-coloured robe and a sky blue cape. A rosary hangs from the little finger of her left hand, and she holds a sceptre in her right. She holds the Christ Child cradled in her left arm, and looks toward him. Christ has a little bird tied to his thumb, and a small rosary hangs from his left hand. To the sides of Mary stand Saint Anthony of Padua with on the book the Christ-child, the patron saint of Don Antonio de Santana, and Saint Andrew the Apostle, the patron saint of the Dominican Andreas de Jadraque. 


In 1562 the canvas portrait was placed in a rustic chapel. It was exposed to the air, the roof leaked, and soon the damage caused by the humidity and sun completely obscured the image. In 1565 the vicar, who served this chapel, gave this painting back to Antonio de Santana. After his death, his widow stored the damaged painting in a shepherd's hut, nearby Chiquinquirá in 1577.

When captain García Arias Maldonado died in 1588, he bequeathed part of his properties to the Dominicans for the building of their priory of Santo Domingo and for a chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary. Meanwhile the condition of the painting got worse. In 1585 Maria Ramos, a pious woman from Seville, a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic, looked after the small chapel, and mended  a little the canvas. Though the image was in terrible shape, she loved to sit and contemplate it.
On Friday 26 December 1586, she was there with her little sun of four years and the Indian lady Isabella. When after their prayer they came outside, the little boy told that a clear light was visible in the chapel. Maria Ramos quickly walked back, and also saw the light, and that the damaged image was suddenly restored. It's colours were bright, the canvas cleaner, the image clear and seemingly brand new.

In 1587 the painting of Chiquinquirá was carried round in Tunja with the entreaty that the plague  and the scarlet fever should stop.

After the ecclesiastical examination of the miraculous phenomenon, the ArchBishop of Santa Fé de Bogotá laid the foundation stone of a church in Chiquinquirá in 1588. After the completion in 1608, the painting was placed above the main altar. From 8 August 1633 till 1635 the painting passed around through the region, because of a violent  epidemic of the plague.

In 1636 the Dominican ArchBishop of Santa Fé de Bogotá, Cristóbal de Torres (1573-1653), handed the painting, now officially named Virgen del Rosario y La Doctrina de Chiquinquirá, forever over to the Dominicans of Chiquinquirá. At the same time they got the care of the parish on 30 Mai 1636.

In 1796 the Dominicans began the building of the new church, which was completed in 1801. Meanwhile the preparations for independence of Colombia from Spain were in full swing. On 20 July 1810 M. Gamica y Dojuela, O.P., prior of the convent of Bogotá, signed the deed of independence from Spain. But the struggle against Spain was not ended. The liberator Simon Bolívar (24 July 1783-10 December 1930) had to fly to Curaçao, but returned, defeated the Spanish army and occupied Caracas in 1813. On 20 January 1815 the Dominicans of Chiquinquirá delivered him money and jewels, given to Our Lady of The Rosary, to afford his campaign for the liberation of Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia (1819-1824).

On 21 April 1816 the General of the patriots, Manuel Roergas de Serviez, took the painting of Our Lady of the Rosary to Cáqueza, but the city was reconquered by the Spanish troops on 7 Mai 1816, and the painting was again exposed in Chiquinquirá on 3 July. In 1821 the General Simon Bolívar visited Chiquinquirá to thank the Dominicans and Our Lady of the Rosary for their assistance in the struggle of liberation.
After the completion of the church (1824) Pope Pius VIII (1829-1830) declared Our Lady of Chiquinquirá patroness of Colombia in 1829, and granted "La Chinita," as her people call her, a special liturgy. Later she became patron of the Venezuelan National Guard.  On 9 Mai 1841 the painting went to Bogotá and Tunja, with the entreating to end the epidemic of the plague, and returned to Chiquinquirá.

For 300 years the painting was unprotected, and thousands of objects were touched annually against the frail cotton cloth, sometimes with rods or canes in order to reach it, which should have destroyed it. Since 1897 a thick glass protects the picture from severe weather conditions and the  pilgrims' fervent excesses.  On 9 July 1919 Our Lady of the Rosary was canonically crowned on the occasion of the National Marian Congress as Queen and Mother of all the Colombians. On 18 August 1927 the church in Chiquinquirá was raised to basilica minor.

On 9 July 1944, the silver jubilee of the coronation (9 July 1919) the Dominicans and the people of Colombia gave Our Lady a silver sceptre, and on 9 July 1969, the fiftieth anniversary of the coronation, a silver half a moon (Apocalyps 12).






    Timbre Ecclesiástico.

    Our Lady of Chiquinquirá.

     Colombia ca. 1880-1910. Local stamp.







Colombia 1954, Mi 703 (brown), Sc C262.

                                 1957, Mi 704 (lilac), Sc C291.

                                 1959, Mi 848 =704, Sc 686 with overprint.







    Pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to Colombia, praying

    at Our Lady of Chiquinquirá.


     Colombia 1986, Mi Bl 39, Sc C784.




Department of Boyacá: altar of the Virgin of Chiquinquirá.

Colombia 2006, Mi 2435,  Sc     On order



'The Virgin of Chiquinquirá' in Venezuela.

Around 1810, a washer women, worKing on the shore of Lake Maracaibo, saw a piece of wood floating and picked it out of the water, leaving it inside her shack for further use. The next morning the lady was awoken by knocKing and she insists that she saw the wood in a beautiful shiny glaze with the image of Our Lady of Chiquinquira engraved on it and ran out of the house shouting: "miracle! miracle!"
So Maracaibo celebrates its biggest yearly religious and social event, the festivity of the statue of its patroness, Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, popularly known affectively as 'La Chinita', because of her indigenous features.
The festivities start with a religious ceremony and procession of the image of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá through the streets of downtown Maracaibo.

Devotion to the Virgin has been defined as an integral part of the Zulian identity, which can explain the presence of thousands of devotees, who combine identity with the spirituality of asKing for and repaying favors granted. The Venezulan post administration issued stamps with this statue of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá.





The virgin of Chiquinquirá.


                           Venezuela 1970, Mi 1851, Sc 972.




     <<<<<<  Venezuela 1985, Mi 2296, Sc 1338 b.  






                                            Venezuela 1988, Mi 2553, Sc 1425 b.  







Pope John Paul II with a worKing man.

In the left corner the statue of the Virgin of Chiquinquirá.


Venezuela 1996, Mi 2978, Sc 1533 h.





Venezuela 2004 on order  (09 04 06     



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