South America

Miracle of Difunta Correa

Rachel Williams

Rachel Williams  |  26 September 2016

A shrine devoted to her is visited by thousands of people annually to pay their respects. Learn why ...

When facing difficulties travellers turn to Difunta Correa, the abandoned woman in the San Juan desert in Argentina. Difunta Correa, literally ‘the deceased Correa’, is a mythical figure for people in Argentina. A shrine devoted to her is visited by thousands of people annually to pay their respects and worship her grave.

The story of the miracle, the same as the legend of Gaucho Gil has roots in the Argentine Civil War. In 1830s or 1840s (the exact year is not known) the wife of a soldier who was forced to fight in Argentine Civil Wars became sick and his wife Deolinda Correa tried to reach him with her baby on the hands running through the desert of San Juan Province. On her way to see her husband, she died exhausted and thirsty at the top of a hill in the desert and the baby was found alive under her corpse, having survived by suckling from her breasts which had never run out of milk. Cattle drivers, who found her, developed a devotion to her due to this miracle survival of a baby. From this time the famous legend was born!

The popular legend encompasses motherly protection and determination, therefore, people see her as a role model, the one who helps people get though difficult situations. People believe that Difunta Correa has the power to save travellers. Due to that people build shrines along roadsides of north-central Argentina and worshipers leave bottles of water as an offering to quench her thirst.

Over the years the hill in Vallecito has become a popular destination, even a small city, with a large shrine, some chapels, a museum and several hospitality services. Annually more than 500 thousand people visit this famous hill including travellers, truck-drivers, farmers or anyone else in need of saving. They come and ask for help as well as give their respects to a place where miracles have been witnessed. In order for her to help in difficult situations people believe that they need to give something in return, such as water bottles, car number plates, vehicle spare parts, painted signs expressing gratitude and red ribbons. Also on the top of the hill, there is a statue representing her dying breast-feeding her son that receives many pilgrims annually.

This miracle story is actually a sad love story that people believe in and hold it as a symbol to get though difficult live situations, making Difunta Correa as the one who can help!

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