Feast of the Virgin of Chapi in Arequipa Date in the current year: May 1, 2024

Feast of the Virgin of Chapi in Arequipa The feast of the Virgin of Chapi is one of the largest religious festivals in Peru. It takes place every year between April 30 and May 2, but the most important events usually take place on May 1.

The Virgin of Chapi (Virgen de Chapi), also known as Our Lady of Candelaria of Chapi (Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Chapi), is the patroness of the Peruvian province of Arequipa. Her sanctuary is located in a desolate place in Polobaya District, about 60 kilometers south of the province capital.

The statue of the Virgin of Chapi is believed to have been brought to Peru by Franciscan or Jesuit missionaries from Spain in the 18th century. Years later, locals founded the statue on a hill near Churajon and brought it to a shrine in Pocsi, a village in the Chapi Valley.

Like most images of the Virgin Mary, the Virgin of Chapi is featured in several legendary accounts of miracles. According to one of the legends, the parish priest of Pocsi once ordered to transfer the statue to another village. The reasoning behind the move was that the area was too scarcely populated and the sanctuary of the Virgin of Chapi was attended by too few devotees.

However, the Virgin did not want to leave her shrine, and after just a few miles, a heavy thunderstorm stopped the procession. Some versions of the legend mention a sandstorm or a rain of ash, which is probably a reference to a volcanic eruption. The next day, when the rain had stopped and it was time to leave, the statue became so heavy that all attempts to carry it failed, no matter how many people tried to lift it. As a result, a shrine was constructed on the spot where the statue stood immovable.

It is also believed that the Virgin of Chapi has survived several fires and earthquakes, while the temple that houses it hasn’t. The shrine has had to be rebuilt several times, but the statue of the Virgin Mary has remained intact all this time, increasing her veneration even more.

Although the liturgical feast day of the Virgin of Chapi is observed on February 2, coinciding with the feast of the Virgin of Candelaria, her devotees have chosen May 1 as the date of the festivities dedicated to the Virgin of Chapi because the entire month of May is traditionally dedicated to the Mother of God in the Catholic Church.

Every year, more than two hundred thousand pilgrims from all over Peru and abroad come to the temple dedicated to the Virgin of Chapi to honor the patroness of Arequipa. Some of them walk for hours on foot to demonstrate their devotion and reverence, although it is possible to get to the temple by bus or by car. The first pilgrims usually start to show up on April 29.

The festivities last for several days, usually beginning on April 30 and ending on May 2, but the most important day of the celebration is May 1, as we’ve already mentioned above. The festival of the Virgin of Chapi includes special services at the temple dedicated to the patroness of Arequipa, a vibrant procession with the statue of the Virgin, concerts, and firework displays.

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