Fun Facts about Paraguay, Caacupé: The Caacupé Basilica, Home to the Virgin of Miracles

The Catholic Church has an extensive history that spans continents, cultures, and languages. One of its many cultural gems is the Caacupé Basilica, located in the town of Caacupé, Paraguay. This basilica is home to the “Virgen de los Milagros” (Virgin of Miracles), an object of immense religious importance in Paraguay. Here, we explore some fun and enlightening facts about this sacred place, digging into its historical, theological, and cultural relevance.

The Origin of the Virgin of Miracles Image

History and Context

One of the most interesting facts about the Caacupé Basilica is that it houses a statue of the Virgin Mary, known locally as the “Virgin of Miracles.” According to tradition, this statue was carved by a Guarani man named José, who was a convert to Christianity. The story goes that the Virgin Mary appeared to him while he was being pursued by members of the Mbayá tribe, saving him from danger. In gratitude, he carved the image from a piece of wood he found in the Ytú mountain range.

Theological Importance

The apparition of the Virgin Mary and the carving of the statue align with Catholic teachings about the intercession of Mary for the faithful. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 971). Thus, the Virgin of Miracles serves as a symbol of Mary’s role as an intercessor and protector.

The Annual Pilgrimage to Caacupé

The Event

One of the major events associated with the Caacupé Basilica is the annual pilgrimage that takes place every December 8th, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Thousands of pilgrims walk or travel by other means from various parts of Paraguay and neighboring countries to honor the Virgin of Miracles.

Cultural Importance

This pilgrimage is not just a religious event but also a cultural phenomenon in Paraguay. It offers a unique blend of indigenous Guarani customs with Catholic traditions. Food, song, and dance are integral parts of the celebrations.

Theological Relevance

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on which the pilgrimage occurs, commemorates the dogma that Mary was conceived without original sin. The Catechism states, “Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, ‘full of grace’ through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 491). The pilgrimage thus serves to honor Mary’s unique role in the plan of salvation.

The Architecture of the Basilica

Historical Background

The current structure of the basilica was built between 1945 and 1960, replacing an earlier church that had stood on the same site. The architecture is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles, incorporating Paraguayan elements.

Importance of the Sanctuary

The sanctuary within the basilica, where the statue of the Virgin of Miracles is displayed, is of great theological importance. It acts as a “dwelling place for God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22), where the faithful can come to seek intercession and grace.

The Role of the Virgin of Miracles in Social Justice

Advocacy for the Marginalized

In Paraguayan culture, the Virgin of Miracles is often seen as an advocate for the poor and marginalized, embodying the Catholic Church’s teachings on social justice. The Catechism states, “It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1913).

A Universal Message

While the association of the Virgin of Miracles with social justice is particularly emphasized in Paraguayan culture, it is consistent with the universal Church’s teachings on the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable.

The Papal Visit

In 1988, Pope John Paul II visited the Caacupé Basilica during his Apostolic Voyage to Paraguay. His visit was not merely a diplomatic or pastoral one; it was a powerful affirmation of the basilica’s significance in the Catholic world.

Theological Significance

During his visit, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass and honored the Virgin of Miracles. His visit echoed his broader Mariology, emphasizing Mary’s role as a maternal figure and intercessor. This aligns with the Catechism, which states that “Mary’s function as mother of men… flows forth from the superabundance of merits of Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 968).


The Caacupé Basilica and the Virgin of Miracles therein offer a rich tapestry of historical, theological, and cultural significance. From its origin story, deeply rooted in Paraguayan history, to its annual pilgrimage that marks a high point in the country’s religious life, the basilica serves as a living testament to the power of faith and the enduring relevance of Marian devotion in the Catholic Church.

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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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