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El Cisne, Ecuador: Our Lady of El Cisne

The story of Our Lady of El Cisne:

The Spanish colonized this area in 1548 and named it El Cisne (the swan). In 1594, a drought and plague of rats destroyed crops in the region. Threatened with extinction the native population decided to emigrate in search of a better land.  However, before that could happen, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a native woman and everything changed.

The woman was  herding sheep to pasture when she met a Lady crowned with fragrant roses, who stayed with her, conversing about God while the flock grazed. “Confide in me, because I am going to help and protect you so you will never be hungry again. Here I want to assist you. Build a shrine in this place, where I will always be with you,” the Lady said.

The people built the church, and rains fell. October 12, 1594, is sometimes given as the apparition date, sometimes as the end of the drought. (October 12, feast of the Virgen del Pilar, has long been a Marian holy day in Spanish-speaking countries.)

The natives of El Cisne commissioned a statue from Diego de Robles of Quito, already known for the image of Our Lady of Quinche, another popular Ecuadoran Virgin with indigenous ties. Carved of oak, the statue of the Virgen del Cisne, “La Churona,” stands 26″ tall, holding the Child in her left hand and a scepter in her right.  The statue was canonically crowned on September 8, 1930.

A new shrine begun in 1934 was consecrated on August 12, 1979, attended by a crowd of regional clergy and officials.

Annually in mid-August, thousands of pilgrims accompany La Churona on a three-day journey to the Cathedral in Loja, where the statue remains until returning to the Basilica of El Cisne on November 1.

Traveling to the Basilica of El Cisne:

Tel:  +593 7-210-6061

email:  [email protected]

Click here for the official website of the Basilica of El Cisne in Spanish).

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