St. Josemaria Escriva: A Pilgrim at Luján

On June 7, 1974, St. Josemaria Escriva arrived in Argentina as part of a catechetical trip through America. During his visit from June 7 to 28, it is estimated that more than twenty-five thousand people were able to see and hear him in meetings and gatherings that took place in and around Buenos Aires. However, a particularly special visit was made on June 12 when he went on a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján, Patroness of Argentina. Before Our Lady, St. Josemaria prayed the Holy Rosary, along with a crowd of faithful who had gathered in the church.

“Father, stay here,” was the sentiment shared by many with St. Josemaria upon his departures from Argentina on June 26, 1974. St. Josemaria warmly replied, “When I leave, I will stay at the foot of Our Lady of Luján; there I leave my heart… My children, thank you. I give thanks to God, thanks to you and to Our Lady of Luján, because I have come and I will leave. But I will return, and then I will stay.”

St. Josemaria Escriva at Shrine of Our Lady Luján in Argentina (1974)

Our Lady of Luján – Patroness of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay

The image of Our Lady of Luján is a two feet tall terracotta statue made in Brazil and sent to Argentina in May 1630.

According to tradition, an ox-drawn wagon was taking the statue from Buenos Aires to Santiago del Estero. The oxen stopped at the Luján River and refused to cross. The coachmen attempted everything to get the oxen to continue the journey, including removing everything from the wagon. They were amazed to discover that the oxen began to move only when the box containing the state of Our Lady was not placed on the wagon. It seemed that Our Lady wanted to stay in Luján.

The statue was taken to a nearby home where a small chapel was built for her, which lasted 40 years. Due to the growing number of pilgrims arriving to venerate the image, a bigger shrine was completed in 1685. But, the devotion to her continued to increase and a new shrine was built in the 19th century.

The image was crowned canonically in 1887. That same year, the statue was plated in silver for protection. Our Lady of Lujàn is usually clothed with a white robe and sky blue cloak, the colors of the Argentinian flag, highlighting her dark oval face with blue eyes and hands folded in prayer. In 1930, Pope Pius XII gave the shrine the title of Basilica.

The feast day of Our Lady of Luján is May 8.

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The St. Josemaria Institute was founded in 2006 to promote the life, teachings, and devotion to St. Josemaria Escriva among all men and women who desire to find meaning and happiness in their daily lives by growing closer to God. The St. Josemaria Institute produces and distributes digital and print media as a means to spread Christian values around the world and to help people navigate and live well in the digital age.

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