Latin America

The Virgin of Suyapa. 275 years of her apparition in Honduras

The anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgin of Suyapa in Honduras is the reason for the granting of a special jubilee year of celebration for the Hondurans and the universal Church. In addition to the already known indulgences that can be earned, this year will also be marked by a series of celebrations around the Basilica of Our Lady of Suyapa in Tegucigalpa.

Carlos Luis Paez-September 26, 2022-Reading time: 6 minutes

From December 8, 2021 to February 3, 2023, Catholics in Honduras will be able to gain plenary indulgences granted by the Apostolic Penitentiary thanks to the request of Monsignor Angel Garachana, president of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras

The reason for the concession is the celebration of the 275th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgin Mary. Virgin of the Immaculate Conception of Suyapapatroness of Honduras. This is the best gift we can give to the Virgin, because what most pleases a mother is that her children are well, so the Church of Honduras encourages the faithful to go to the Virgin of Suyapa to receive there at home, the grace of the sacraments and thus improve their relationship with Christ and get to heaven.

The Church benignly grants plenary indulgence under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful, who moved by penance and charity want to gain for themselves and even apply as suffrage to the souls in purgatory, provided they visit in pilgrimage the Basilica of Our Lady of Suyapa, and there devoutly celebrate the sacred rites, or at least, in front of the image of Our Lady of Suyapa, celestial Patroness of Honduras, exposed to public veneration, dedicate some time to meditation, concluding with the prayer of the Our Father, the Creed and other invocations of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The elderly, the sick, and others who for serious reasons are unable to leave their homes, can also obtain the indulgence by refusing any sin and with the intention of fulfilling the customary intentions. If they unite themselves spiritually to the celebrations of the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering their prayers, pains, the discomforts of their own life to the Mercy of God, they can also obtain the indulgence by offering their prayers, pains, and the discomforts of their own life to the Mercy of God.

Also during the year, different activities have been programmed: November 30 to December 8, 2021 novena to the Immaculate Conception of Mary in all parishes; January 23 to 31, novena to Our Lady of Suyapa; February 1 Vigil in Pilligüin, with the youth; February 2, great Jubilee serenade in the Basilica; February 3 Eucharist of thanksgiving for the gift of heaven in Santa Maria de Suyapa; March 24-25, parish vigils in honor of the Incarnation of the Son of God in the Virgin Mary; August 15, pilgrimage by families to the Basilica of Suyapa prior to the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary on August 15; September 8, recital celebrating the feast of the Birth of the Virgin; October 7, Rosary festival.

Visitors from all over the country

Those of us who frequently visit the Virgin of Suyapa in the Basilica see that there are many pilgrims who come to implore her help and then come to give thanks for the graces granted. People come to the Basilica from all over the country: Entibucá, La Esperanza, Santa Rosa de Copan, Puerto Cortes, Comayagua, Choluteca, Marcala, La Paz, etc. Many leave their homes at dawn in order to go to confession, participate in Holy Mass and thank the Virgin for her help. They come both children and elderly, healthy and sick -even on stretchers-, people of all social classes, very simple people and people with great responsibilities, because the Virgin, as the good mother that she is, welcomes everyone. One of these pilgrims was Pope St. John Paul II, who in March 1983 visited Our Lady of Suyapa and made the following request: 

"Pilgrim through the countries of Central America, I come to this shrine of Suyapa to place under your protection all the children of these sister nations, renewing the confession of our faith, the boundless hope we have placed in your protection, the filial love for you, which Christ himself has sent us. We believe that you are the Mother of Christ, God made man, and the Mother of the disciples of Jesus. We hope to possess with you the eternal beatitude of which you are the pledge and anticipation in your glorious Assumption. We love you because you are a merciful Mother, ever compassionate and gracious, full of mercy. I entrust to you all the countries of this geographical area. Grant that they may preserve, as the most precious treasure, faith in Jesus Christ, love for you, fidelity to the Church. Help them to achieve, by peaceful means, the cessation of so many injustices, commitment to those who suffer most, respect for and promotion of the human and spiritual dignity of all their children. [...] Bless families, that they may be Christian homes where the life that is born, the fidelity of marriage, the integral education of children, open to consecration to God, may be respected. I entrust to you the values of the young people of these peoples; grant that they may find in Christ the model of generous dedication to others; foster in their hearts the desire for total consecration to the service of the Gospel.". 

"From this height in Tegucigalpa and from this sanctuary, I contemplate the countries that I have visited - Pope St. John Paul II continues - united in the same Catholic faith, spiritually united around Mary, the Mother of Christ and of the Church, the bond of love that makes all these peoples sister nations.

The same name, Mary, modulated with different invocations, invoked with the same prayers, pronounced with the same love. In Panama she is invoked with the name of the Assumption; in Costa Rica, Our Lady of the Angels; in Nicaragua, the Most Pure; in El Salvador she is invoked as Queen of Peace; in Guatemala her glorious Assumption is venerated; Belize has been consecrated to the Mother of Guadalupe and Haiti venerates Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Here, the name of the Virgin of Suyapa has a flavor of mercy on the part of Mary and of recognition of her favors by the Honduran people.". 

Place of faith and connection

The Basilica of Suyapa for a long time has become a place of faith, conversion and hope, Father Carlo Magno reminds us, so we can say that Mary of Suyapa is the sun that illuminates countless hearts. Today, it has become a place of consolation in the face of the difficulties faced by the faithful.

Among them, Father Cecilio Rivera, vicar of the basilica, told us, the great number of couples who come to thank the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception of Suyapa for having granted them the grace of conceiving a child. For that reason, Father Javier Martinez affirms that "families have been built with Santa María de Suyapa.". The words of Mary that resound from Suyapa are always an echo of welcome to the gift of Life, they are a generous and unreserved yes to the invitation "..."....thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bear a son"(Lk 1:31). There is no doubt that these words serve as an inspiration for today's families, especially to rethink the beautiful and perennial plan of God, who blesses the married community with the gift of a child (cf. Gen 1-3). The marvelous gift of human life arouses in those who receive it admiration, gratitude and the desire to cultivate it through their own self-giving. Mary is an icon of this generous (oblative) love, which launches married couples to an experience of love above the material, and above the pressing conditions of this time.

With the arrival of this National Jubilee, the Basilica of Our Lady of Suyapa, Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez stressed, will become the center and the heart of the believing people, who go on pilgrimage to pay her homage and gratitude. Because the house of Mary, where we find her Son, is also the house of all Hondurans, who, moved by their desire to contemplate her, honor her and make her the object of their confidences in the form of fervent supplications, evidence the pilgrim character of our faith. 

Sacrament House

Our Lady of Suyapa has also allowed many to receive her son through the sacraments. In the basilica where she is located, many baptisms and first communions are celebrated, many confirmations are administered, many marriages are celebrated and every day many people come to receive God's forgiveness through the sacrament of confirmation and to participate in the Holy Sacrifice. 

On Sundays, for example, between the basilica, the hermitage and the new church next to the basilica, fourteen Eucharists are celebrated and every day many people come seeking God's forgiveness through the sacrament of Confession.

To grow in piety 

Our Lady has come to Honduras to help her children to grow in piety and love for Jesus Christ, to value the sacraments and with the graces they receive from them to reach Heaven. 

Father Juan Antonio Hernández tells us that some years ago, a little old lady who was about 80 years old came one day to the basilica to fulfill a promise made to the Virgin, then sought sacramental Confession, participated in the Holy Mass, prayed before the image of the Virgin of Suyapa, and while participating in a second Eucharist, she rested in the peace of the Lord. This is how the Mother takes care of her children, she accompanies them to the end, giving them a peace and joy that no one can take away from them.

The authorCarlos Luis Paez


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