LUJÁN, OUR LADY OF
Argentine shrine, forty miles west of Buenos Aires. Its main object of devotion is a small doll-like statue of the Blessed Virgin; her head is surrounded by a golden aureole and is crowned with hundreds of diamonds and other precious stones. The Basilica of Our Lady of Luján is the most important pilgrimage center in Argentina. According to legend, in 1639 a peasant from Cordova, wishing to revive his neighbors' "belief in their early faith," ordered two statues from Brazil, one of the Immaculate Conception, the other the Blessed Virgin and her Son. When the caravan delivering them reached a small ranch on the outskirts of Luján, the driver could not urge the horses on until the statue of the Immaculate Conception was removed, indicating Mary's own choice of where her shrine should be. The treasured statue went through many housing vicissitudes. One Negro grew from boyhood to old age guarding her first in a small chapel, then in a church, then in a larger edifice. As the number of miracles grew, the crowds also grew larger. In 1910 an impressive cathedral was completed and today it is one of the world's famous shrines to Mary honored by papal coronation. Since 1930 the cathedral has been raised to the rank of a basilica. Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay now all claim The Lady of Luján as their official protectress.