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Virgen de Gracia (Virgin of Grace), Aés, Puente Viesgo, Pas-Miera, Cantabria, Spain

Commemorated on May 23
Virgen de Gracia (Virgin of Grace), Aés, Puente Viesgo, Pas-Miera, Cantabria, Spain
On May 23, 1575, as widow María Saínz de Quijano said the rosary while watching sheep on Hediilla Mountain, she saw the Virgin appear "with such great splendor that I didn't dare look at Her Majesty, and she said I should ask the curate of the place to build a chapel in that spot and put in it an image of the Virgin of Grace and one of St. Lawrence." To the woman's objection that people wouldn't believe her, the Virgin answered that she would make them believe. When the woman started to get up, she found she could not, and stayed there, calling for her daughter Juana. Some neighbors passing by found Juana, who carried her mother home on her back. María asked Juana to get the local priest. She told him what had happened, and he then told his superior, the vicar of the valley, who dismissed it with a laugh, saying the shepherdess must have been dreaming. A few days later the vicar passed through that place with his servant, who said, "Sir, they say the Virgin recently appeared to a woman in this spot." The vicar laughed again, and was suddenly blind. The servant led him home. In fear and remorse, the vicar dictated a letter to the Archbishop, asking him to order construction of the chapel so that he would regain his sight. 
 
 
The Archbishop ordered workers to began cutting wood for construction. They cut some from high on the mountain and some from lower down, at the apparition site. But they couldn't move the wood from the heights, although they moved that from the lower site easily. Carmen González Echegaray, citing records in the National Archives of Spain, doesn't say whether the seer and the vicar recovered, but presumably they were among the first to receive the graces of the Virgin of Aés. The chapel has been rebuilt and renovated several times over the centuries, most recently in 1993. An annual romería to the mountain shrine outside the village of Aés on May 23, the apparition anniversary, draws participants from the entire valley.  
 
Sources:
 
María del Carmen González Echegaray, Guía para visitar los santuarios marianos de Cantabria, Ediciones Encuentro, Madrid, 1993
"PATRIMONIO," Puente Viesgo, www.puenteviesgo.es/root/Historia/Patrimonio-FRAME.htm (picture)
 

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