In Search of the Virgin Mary: Saint Mary in the Construction of National Identities in Latin America

Student Author(s)

Jordan Hill

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. María Claudia André

Document Type


Event Date



The image of the Virgin Mary is ubiquitous in Latin America. She is one of the most important religious symbols for Latin American Catholics and is an extremely accessible object of devotion. All countries in this region, including the majority of cities and towns, claim a particular advocation of the Virgin as their local Patron Lady, each of which has a unique narrative of apparition and miracles that is inseparable from the history of her people. The origin story and iconography of each patroness is deeply revealing of the religious, political, and cultural identity of those who venerate her. The many faces of the Virgin Mary are deeply woven into the story of Latin America, and any study of the formation of its peoples will be incomplete without knowledge of one of its most familiar figures. From her arrival with the Europeans to her subsequent transformation to her continued relevance today, Saint Mary has been a powerful symbol of cultural and religious pride and identity.

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