The Virgin of El Quinche

How is this Marian invocation related to the mountains? Join us and discover this and other information about our Virgen of El Quinche.

Virgin of Quinche by Quiteño anonymousColonial Museum

Devotion to the Virgin of El Quinche emerged in the late 16th century, in Ecuador. It was the sculptor Diego de Robles who created the image of this Virgin. Not receiving any payment from those who commissioned it, he gave it to the indigenous people of Oyacachi. 

The group of natives was surprised because, as they said, weeks before the Virgin herself had appeared to them. In exchange for saving them of a plague of bears they converted to the Catholic faith. With the image in their hands, they decided to build her a chapel. 

The altar on which the Virgin leans on indicates that this painting sought not only to reproduce the original carving but also to maintain its miraculous character. These types of images are known as “true portraits”. 

A white wig covers the head of this Virgin, for the parishioners used to adorn in this way the sculpture located in the town of El Quinche. 

In the original sculpture, the Virgin and Child mestizo features stand out, as well as their dark skin tone. Despite the absence of both characteristics in this painting, in it, the three white feathers on the crown of the Virgin show the devotion of the people of Oyacachi. 

The triangular shape of the Marian dress is related to indigenous religiosity, as it evokes a mountain. As part of the so-called mountain-virgins, this invocation is associated with the Pachamama, the Inca divinity that represents Mother Earth, and acted as a protective mother. 

At the base of the table, we see two words: Consolatris and Afligtorun. Both were taken from a verse of the Laurentan Litanies, a prayer dialogued between priests and faithful, addressed to the Virgin and prayed during the processions. 

Above the Virgin there is a red pallium: a rectangular canopy supported by four silver sticks lean on the table. This element was used in processions since the Middle Ages. Its function is to cover objects considered sacred. 

The image of the Virgen of El Quinche was widely disseminated in the Audience of Quito and the south of New Granada. During the 19th century, it was used as an argument against the separation of Church from State and in favor of the power of the religious institution. 

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
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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