Coming Face to Face with the Virgin of Luján

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By Sister Moira Flynn

On May 8, we celebrate the Feast of the Virgin of Luján, patron saint of the Argentine people. A small symbolic image that rouses the greatest displays of popular faith is venerated at the Shrine of Our Lady of Luján, located in the Buenos Aires province of Argentina. Many Christian parents request for their children to be baptized at this Marian Shrine, thereby showing their faith in the maternal aspect of Mary, who forever begets new children for God.

In Luján, you can see how Mary gathers near to her children who faithfully pilgrimage to see her and be seen by her. There, the Virgin provides them her maternal comfort, as she did to Saint Juan Diego, saying: “Do not let your heart be troubled … Am I not here, I, who am your mother?

In Argentina, the cult of the Virgin of Luján has been a way to enculturate many generations with the faith.

Every year, on the first Sunday of October, thousands of young people walk in procession starting Saturday evening and throughout the night to the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján. The historical experiences and welfare of the entire population are reflected in the leadership and prayers of these youth and are expressed through the annual slogans: “Mary of Luján, we want the path of justice,” “With Mary we build a homeland of brotherhood” and “The youth peregrinate to Luján for the homeland.”

The song identified with the pilgrimage since 1975 is known as “This is the time of America.” “It is the Virgin of Luján, a gaucha mother like no other, who will accompany us as we walk, we young people are present-day witnesses of your great love.”

The vitality of the peoples’ faith is expressed in the act of walking together with many others to reach the Virgin. What is most important to the youth—more so than the walk—is arriving at the shrine to come face to face with the Virgin. That desire to look upon her and to be looked upon by her opens their hearts to faith and trust in her maternal affection.