The story began in 1630 when a Portuguese settler named Farias ordered two images of the Blessed Virgin Mary in order to revive the faith of the people in the city of Cordova, Argentina. From Brazil, two images arrived: that of Mary as Mother of God, and the other as the Immaculate Conception. Both images are made of terracotta (baked clay), 20cm and 38cm high, respectively. As called for by the situation during those times, the image have to be carried together with a caravan in order to protect it from robbers.
Having left Buenos Aires, the caravans travelled for a day more, and having passed the Luján River, they sought a shelter near the ranch of a certain Don Tomás de Rosendo de Oramus. Leaving the next morning, the horses of one of the caravans-for unknown reasons, refused to leave. This was solved when one of the boxes was removed, and this box contained the image of the Immaculate Conception.
The caravans continued their way, reaching Sumampa, where the image of the Mary, the Mother of God is revered as Nuestra Señora de la Consolación de Sumampa. Meanwhile, the image of the Immaculate Conception remained in the ranch, understood to be willed by heavens as such.
There, a simple chapel was built wand the sacred image was venerated there, as she procured miracles to those who prayed in front of this simple image. A slave named Manuel was dedicated to serve the image. According to the written accounts, Manuel was born in Cabo Verde around 1604 and died on January 25, 1698. He served the chapel of our Lady for almost forty years.
A certain Doña Ana de Matos, bought the image from the Fr. Juan de Oramás, an heir of Rosendo. She wanted to build a more beautiful chapel for the Our Lady, whose veneration has become so widespread in the land, with the help of a butler named Manuel Casco de Mendoza, and of the chaplain Don Pedro de Montalbo. Finally, Bishop Antonio Azcona confirmed the chaplaincy of Don Pedro de Montalbo. The chapel was built in the present city of Luján.
In 1904, Mons. Juan Nepomuceno Terrero, the Bishop of La Plata, ordered the image to be covered with silver inorder to prevent the terracotta from disintegrating. He then made exact replicas of the image, made of wood. Later that year, it was transferred to a bigger church, of grand Gothic architecture which would be known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján, whose construction began on 1887 and would finish in the year 1935. Notable persons who have visited the Basilica were Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, St. Josemaría Escrivá, St. Luigi Orione and St. John Paul the Great.
She is the Patron of the Argentine Republic, as well as Paraguay and Uruguay. In fact, her clothes, white tunic and sky-blue mantle inspired the Argentine heroes in their design of the flag.
The Patroness of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word
As a seminarian, our founder, Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela, has been deeply devoted to Our Lady of Luján. He would pray in front of her image for more and holy vocations to priestly and consecrated life. There, he celebrated his first Mass. Our religious family always considered her as the Mother of our vocations.
Here in the Philippines, the Quasi-Parish of Our Lady of Luján was erected in the year 2010 and was entrusted to the Institute of the Incarnate Word for its administration. Since 2013, the image joins the annual Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros, Manila.
In 2011, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, confirmed Our Lady of Luján as the patroness before God of the Institute of the Incarnate Word.