OUR LADY OF THE LIGHT, Salvatierra, Guanajuato
“What are those strange lights?” Don Antonio wondered. He and a friend, a Franciscan religious, had noticed lights blazing
from a nearby hospice. “It almost looks like the place is on fire!” said the Franciscan. Tamayo sent some servants to investigate. They came back with their findings: “There is no fire there whatsoever!” they exclaimed. “Nor any lights of any kind!”
Don Antonio Tamayo, the proprietor of the Hacienda San Buenaventura, decided to pay a personal visit to the site of the “lights.” His Franciscan friend went along with him. They noticed that the place was littered with worn and discarded objects among which they discovered a statue of Our Lady, considerably damaged. Don Antonio sent the statue to be repaired to Patzcuaro, a centre known for its excellent sculptors. He was so struck by the beauty of the renovated image that he built a chapel in his hacienda to honour the statue of Our Lady. She became popularly known as “Our Lady of Light.”
The phenomena of the lights continued: Many people saw lights emanating from the statue not only in the chapel but also when Our Lady was on pilgrimage to other churches in the region. Very soon “repeated favours and marvels attributed to Our Lady of Light were known far and wide.”
The Bishop of Valladolid, Don Juan de Ortega Montanes, while on a journey to Mexico City, encountered one of these miracles himself. When he arrived at Salvatierra he was seriously ill. He offered a Mass at Our Lady’s altar and experienced an immediate and rapid return to health. The grateful prelate officially bestowed upon her the title “Our Lady of Light”.
“Many are the wonders which this sacred image has worked” according to one historian. A document from 1667 reveals just such a one: it relates that a thief stole into the church and tried to steal Our Lady’s crown during the middle of the night. He was not only unable to lift the crown from the statue’s head, he was unable to leave the church! The sacristan discovered the mortified robber the next morning, rooted to the spot!
On one occasion the statue of Our Lady of Light was severely damaged on one of her pilgrimage trips. Her face was badly disfigured. The disconsolate parishioners feared that their beloved statue was beyond repair. Seemingly, out of the blue, an unknown artisan appeared on the scene. He offered to repair the statue and began work the next day. He was offered chocolate but declined! He was offered tasty bakery treats but declined these as well. Nor would he accept offers of meals from many of the women in the parish. The repairs were completed and the townspeople were astonished by the artisan’s skill. The statue looked like new! And the artisan then left without a trace—and without presenting a bill for his labours! He was never seen again.
In 1743 plans for the present church of Our Lady of Light were drawn up. From 1808 to the present time Our Lady has been venerated in this beautiful sanctuary in Salvatierra. In September 1938 His Holiness Pope Pius Xl authorized the coronation of Our Lady of Light, an honour of profound significance, one of only a few in the country. This was carried out by his papal representative for the occasion, the Archbishop of Morelia, Dr. Don Leopoldo Ruiz y Flores, who crowned the statue with a golden diadem on May 24, 1939.