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Virgen de la Candelaria, Cayma, Arequipa, Peru

Commemorated on May 11
Virgen de la Candelaria, Cayma, Arequipa, Peru
In 1544, Dominican friars founded a monastery overlooking Arequipa, the White City, in the Andes Mountains of southern Peru. Not many years later, according to tradition, Emperor Charles V of Spain sent a statue of the Virgin as a gift to the region. The Indians carrying it heard a voice ordering them to go "no further" ("caiman" in Quechua, hence the town's name), and though they tried to continue their march, were unable to move the image and so built a chapel for it there.   
Candelaria is Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, celebrated in the Catholic Church on February 2 with blessing of candles in commemoration of Mary's ritual visit to the temple 40 days after the birth of Jesus. The Virgin of Candelaria of Cayma holds a candle, as does her Child. She has seen the region through many disasters. Four years after the massive eruption of Huaynaputina 43 miles east, a cholera epidemic hit Arequipa. The dead were buried in mass graves. Desperate for divine help, people brought the statue of the Virgin down from Cayma, and as the procession went through the city on August 28, 1604, the mortality ended. In thanksgiving, the statue was carried from the chapel to the town annually on that date for 300 years. The many ex votos in the chapel attest to further miracles and blessings over the centuries. 
 
On May 11, 1947, the Virgin of Cayma returned again to the White City, where Juan Cardinal Gualberto Guevara, Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Peru, crowned her statue at a splendid ceremony in the Plaza de Armas.
 
(Picture and information from "La Virgen Candelaria de Cayma, Arequipa," El Perú necesita de Fátima, www.fatima.org.pe/seccion-verarticulo-61.html.)

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