Venezuela: The Feast of the Divine Shepherdess


Written by Laura Vidal


Every January 14, the Catholic culture of Spanish origins in Venezuela celebrates the feast of the Divina Pastora (Divine Shepherdess), one of the names by which Mary, the mother of Jesus, is known. This celebration reaches its most important point in the city of Barquisimeto, in the state of Lara, located in the northwest of the country. During these days, many Venezuelan bloggers remembered and shared the origins of the tradition and the stories that turned it into an important cultural celebration. At the same time, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook were filled with pictures and blessings, but the political discussion that is present in the daily life of the country could not be set aside.

Every January 14, 1.5 million believers gather to venerate the Divine Shepherdess in one of the largest processions in Venezuela. Photo by Joaquín Ferrer by Demotix under copyright.


According to Wikipedia [es]:

“The lareneses (people from the state of Lara) venerate her with special devotion, giving her hats and dresses of precious fabrics as presents, some of these tailored by famous designers, such that some people comment that there is no woman in Venezuela with a more luxurious dress than that of the Divine Shepherdess of Barquisimeto.”

The blog Simplemente Venezuela [es] (Simply Venezuela) describes the origins of the Venezuelan tradition:

“In 1736, the priest of Santa Rosa commissioned a famous sculptor to make a statue of the Immaculate Conception. By mistake however, instead of the Immaculate statue, one of the Divine Shepherdess arrived. The priest wanted to return it but as hard as they tried, they could not lift it out of the box where they placed it. From that moment on it was considered that it was a sign that the Lady wanted to stay with them.”

Profeballa in the blog Venezuela y su historia [es] (Venezuela and its history) tells us how the Lady’s miraculous attributions became stronger in 1856 during a cholera outbreak in the city.

“On the very 14th of January, at the end of the procession, the Lady entered the church, the priest asked the multitude to pray and ask the Divine Shepherdess to end the plague(…)”

“The statue went on to visit all the other temples in the city (this is now done in 2 months), and at the end of the tour, father Macario Yepez fell sick of cholera, and his death marked the end of the epidemic.”

Joaquín, in Venezuela de Antaño [es] (Venezuela of old) tells us a little about the dynamics of the celebration:

“At four in the morning of January 14th, from the Obelisk a group of trotters comes out, to witness the start of the religious rites with masses that begin at five and end at eleven, in order to later participate in the majestic procession, one of the most attended in the world, towards the Cathedral.”

Photo by Joaquín Ferrer for Demotix under copyright.





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