OUR LADY OF HOPE (ESPERANZA), Jacona, Michoacan
On one sunny February day in 1888, a record 16,000 people from the state of Michoacan crowded into the municipal centre of Jacona to witness a momentous religious event: the solemn crowning of the statue of Our Lady of Hope by the papal authority of Pope Pius Xlll. The pope even blessed the statue personally, an unusual honour, rarely given.
What was even more noteworthy about this event is that this was the first statue of Our Lady to be crowned in Mexico. She was even crowned before Our Lady of Guadalupe,who was crowned in 1895 as the Patroness of Mexico.
Our Lady of Hope has the most intriguing history!
In 1614 two fishermen from Jacona, Michoacan, were casting their nets into the waters of Lake Chapala. One fisherman’s net was overflowing with fish. The other fisherman caught no fish but his net became strangely heavy and bulky. He realized that he had snagged a tree root! But this was no ordinary tree root: To his utter astonishment, when he glanced at the root, he discovered that it contained a remarkable image of Our Lady,“modelled to perfection.”
The two fishermen delivered the statue to the local parish priest who, full of wonder, immediately placed it on the altar. She became known as OUR LADY OF THE ROOT. In 1867 a new era began for the statue: the parish priest Father Plancarte y Labastida promoted the miraculous statue with passionate zeal. He had had a great love for her since childhood. From now on she became known as Nuestra Senora de Esperanza, or Our Lady of Hope. She became the Patroness of the diocese of Zamora.
Historians recount that the people of Zamora received “singular protection” and great benefits from her intercession. She became the “comfort and refuge” of all the region. The photos that you can see on this webpage are of the actual statue found in 1614 in Lake Chapala.
The statue is 40” (73cm) tall and has a singular “beauty and grace” that is “neither ancient nor modern in feeling”. Even today if you look very closely you can see traces of the ancient root in the head of the statue. Her right heel rests upon the head of the ancient serpent and her right arm encloses a bouquet of white lilies. She is a representation of the Immaculate Conception and is the reason why Pope Pius lX calls her “Mother of Most Holy hope.” The church has a mural on its exterior wall illustrating the fishing boat and the sacred root.
St. Bishop Rafael Guizar y Valencia (1878-1938), ( pictured on this website,) who was born in the state of Michoacan, had a fervent devotion to Our Lady of Hope. He has the great distinction of being the first born bishop in the Americas to be canonized. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XVl in 2006 and his body had been exhumed and found incorrupt in 1950. The bishop spent his early years of the priesthood in Zamora and gave many missions, attracting thousands at a time. Accompanied by his ever-present accordion, he brought many people to conversion in the early years of the 20th century. His great goal was evangelization and with this in mind he founded a congregation of missionary priests in Zamora which was named after Our Lady of Hope. He became the fifth bishop of Veracruz in 1915 and his remains are to be found in the Cathedral of Xalapa, the capital of the state.
As always, his fervent prayer was: “Mother of Hope, pray for us!”