Feast Of Candelaria
The Feast of Candelaria is a holiday and the beginning of a festival that begins on the 2nd day in February. It venerates the Virgen de Copacabana, also known as the Blessed Virgin of the Candelaria, who is the patron saint of Bolivia.
The central focus of this holiday is the Bolivian town of Copacabana—although veneration of the Virgin is performed all over the country. In that town exists the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana—which is not only the main focal point of this holiday but is also the main focal point when the veneration of the Virgin is also performed on the 5th of August.
The History Of The Feast of Candelaria
During the mid-16th century, the people who lived in and around Copacabana were divided into two groups: there were the original residents of the area called the Urinsayas and the Incan newcomers known as Anansayas.
Despite these groups being converted to Christianity for the most part, a lot of them still clung to their original religions. At least, until a poor harvest made them resolve to seek help from Christianity’s heaven. The Urinsayas would seek help from San Sebastian, while the Anansayas would seek help and venerate the Virgin Mary.
An amateur sculptor, member of the Anansayas, and a descent of the Inca Francisco Tito Yupanqui decided to create an image of the Blessed Virgin believing that it would influence the people in the area. The sculpture was placed at the side of an altar by Gather Antonia de Almedio and it remained there until he left Copacabana. When he left the town, the priest Don Antonia Montoro would take over the duties of the church and he would remove the sculpture and have it placed in a corner of the sacristy.
Over the years, the sculpture was sold, brought to the hills of Guacu, and was associated with a variety of miracles. On August 1, 1925, Pope Pius XI would visit the image of the Virgin of Copacabana and would not only bless it but grant it a canonical coronation. It’s venerated every year with a February 2nd and an August 5th veneration.
Observing The Feast Of Candeleria
On February 2nd, there are a variety of religious services and festivals associated with this holiday. Some of the more important ones take place in Copacabana, Aiquile, Angostura, Challapampa, and Samaipata.