The Ecuadorian community of Our Lady of Loretto Church celebrated once again their annual feast of the “Virgen del Cisne” (Virgin of the Swan). This is a feast primarily celebrated in the Loja region of Ecuador. The name of this devotion is due to the so-called “Order of the Knights of the Swan”, with origin in Europe, who used to build churches on the tops of the mountains in honor of the Virgin. Tutored by the Franciscans, these priests were linked to the foundation of Loja.
It is a devotion with four centuries of history. The versions regarding its origin are varied, according to the Basilica of El Cisne’s own website.
One of them has to do with an apparition of the Virgin after a famine that devastated the region due to an intense drought when its inhabitants had decided to leave the place. Due to this, the version indicates that the Virgin asked them to stay in the place and that her wish was that a church be built there.
As the years went by, devotion increased. The indigenous people built a sanctuary in the place and it was not until 1934 that the sanctuary was built and is still standing today. Even, a decree of 1826 by Simon Bolivar allowed to establish a visit of the Virgin to the city of Loja, in addition to an annual fair for her veneration.
It is for all this that this image of the Virgin will continue to captivate the hearts of Ecuadorians. Undoubtedly, a tradition of many years and also a pole of attraction for many others who come from far away, being the walk of more than 70 kilometers during three days one of the most famous pilgrimages of the region.
To know more about this devotion, please read the Aleteia article