Virgin of Guadalupe from Extremadura

Did you know that the Mexican Virgin of Guadalupe has a Spanish forerunner?

By Santa Clara Museum

Anonymous piece

Our Lady of Guadalupe in Extremadura (1600/1700) by Unknown artistSanta Clara Museum

This image represents a sculpture of the Virgin that is in the Royal Monastery of Santa María in the Extremaduran town of Guadalupe, Spain. Red drapes frame the figure. At the top, two angels and a cherub hold a cartouche. 

The cartouche contains a prayer that says: “Saint Mary of Guadalupe, pray for us.” 

According to tradition, the Evangelist Saint Luke carved this image that Pope Gregory I later donated to Saint Leander, Bishop of Seville, the city where it was sheltered until the Muslim invasion in 711. 

Legend also tells that, after the siege, some priests saved the image by hiding it in a mountain range in Extremadura on the banks of the Guadalupe River, from which it takes its name. 

It is said that the image was hidden until 1330, when a shepherd named Gil Cordero found it. These miraculous events awakened the devotion of both Extremadurans and King Alfonso XI of Castile, who took refuge in its protection in the battle of Salado, in 1340. 

Beyond the legends, it is known that the sculpture dates from the 12th century and that it belongs to the set of black virgins that were usually carved at this time in western Europe. 

In the Colonial period it was usual to represent in paintings some Marian sculptures considered miraculous. These images are known as true portraits

In this type of images, emphasis was placed on the representation of the clothing of the figures since the original carvings were dressed in fine fabrics and ornaments that the faithful usually donated. 

By 1492, the Virgin of Guadalupe was a symbol of the Reconquest of the Peninsula invaded by Muslims. 

In addition, before his trip to America, Christopher Columbus visited her sanctuary to ask for protection from the dangers of the sea. 

Arriving in America, Columbus named an island after this Virgin. The other conquerors who arrived in the New World also entrusted themselves to this dedication and popularized its cult. 

Due to its importance to the history of Spain, the Virgin of Guadalupe from Extremadura was named Queen of Hispanicity in 1928. 

Virgin of Guadalupe from Extremadura
Anonymous piece
Oil on canvas
17th Century 

Credits: Story


Museum Director
María Constanza Toquica Clavijo

María Alejandra Malagón Quintero

Anamaría Torres Rodríguez
María Isabel Téllez Colmenares

Collection Management
Paula Ximena Guzmán López

Tanit Barragán Montilla

Jhonatan Chinchilla Pérez

Credits: All media
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