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City’s Earlier Patron Saint, Overshadowed by St Michael, Still Gets Her Fiesta

Procesión Virgen de Loreto

Virgen de Loreto en la Iglesia de la Ermita

By Jesús Aguado

There was a time when Our Lady of Loreto was the most important religious figure in San Miguel, back when our city was still called the Village of San Miguel el Grande.

Evidence of this still exists everywhere in San Miguel—at a hotel or church entrance, in niches inside houses in the Historic Center—paying testament to the fact that Our Lady of Loreto and her fiesta day were once as important to Sanmiguelenses as that of the Archangel St Michael.

This year, her fiesta will be celebrated on September 6, 7, and 8 at the Oratorio church and on calle Loreto. At the Temple of La Ermita, the celebration is a week afterward, this year on September 14. Check the Festivals and Events section of Que Pasa for details.

A Virgin for hard times

According to city historian Graciela Cruz, the Virgin was appointed as Grand Patroness of the Villa of San Miguel el Grande on September 8, 1736, by the Spanish city council, with a celebration in her honor held every September. The inhabitants of the village used to ask the Virgin for favors in hard times, such as times of illness or drought.

“There are documents with testimonies of miracles granted by the Virgin, such as the healing of illnesses,” says Cruz. She concurs with Oratorio priest Father Roberto Almaguer that the festivity lost its importance due to social and religious changes in the country, most importantly because the tradition was tightly linked to families in the village with Spanish ties and ancestry. But it is notable, commented Cruz, that the largest neighborhood in the village at the time, with more than 400 families, bore her name—Barrio de Loreto.

Arrival of a queen

The historical figure don Manuel Tomás de la Canal is responsible for bringing the Virgin to San Miguel. Soon after he arrived in San Miguel, he began supporting the congregation of El Oratorio de San Felipe Neri, recently founded in 1712. The current space of the Holy House in el Oratorio was sold to don Manuel Tomás by the church fathers. The sculpture of the Virgin arrived from Italy in San Miguel between 1734 and 1736. Cruz says that the current church of La Ermita was situated at the intersection where the roads to Querétaro and to México City separated. In that space, a small chapel was constructed to hold the statue.

Information from the Oratorio states that the Virgin arrived at the small chapel of La Ermita to be uncovered and adorned with beautiful and showy clothes. Later, the Virgin was carried upon men’s shoulders and moved to the Holy House in El Oratorio “with all the honors that were proper of a queen who was also mother of Christ, because of the importance of the de la Canal family, and because of her entrance to her Holy House,” said Cruz.

 

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