La Virgen del Rosario, also known as la Virgen Morena, or Dark Lady, the patron saint of miners, is held in high regard in Chile, a land dotted with mines.
Annually, on December 24 -26, the small town of Andacollo, located in the mountains southeast of La Serena and Coquimbo in El Norte Chico of central Chile, celebrates the Virgen of Andacollo with religious events to commemorate the many miracles attributed to her and the Niño Dios de Sotaquí, Christ Child of Sotaqui. One such miracle was the virulent smallpox epidemic of 1871 that claimed dozens of lives in a few days, and ended abruptly after intercession to the Virgen.
Thousands of pilgrims arrive in advance, swell the town, and camp where they can to be on hand for the ceremonies, including religious dances by costumed dancers, centered in the basilica as well as the secular festivities. These include cockfighting, horseracing, abundant food and beverages.
Before the town's official founding in 1891, the area was known to the Incas who mined the mountains for gold and copper. The name Andacollo is thought to come from the Quechua, Anta-Coya which means cobre-reina, or copper queen. The Virgen, Nuestra Señora de Andacollo is thought to have appeared to an indigenous miner, newly converted to Catholicism, in the form of a small wooden statuette hidden in the rocks. Legend has it that a priest fleeing the destruction of La Serena hid in the mountains with the figurine. He disappeared, but the statuette became famous.
Browse through the desciptions and photos of Andacollo - A Feast of Color, but be patient. The photographs are large.
If you're in Chile in December, plan to be in Andacollo for the Fiesta Grande - it's a feast for the soul as well as the senses. Check out the Hotel Francisco de Aguirre in La Serena for availability, rates, amenities, location, activities and other specific information.
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