Lady of Altagracia in Dominican Republic in 2021

Lady of Altagracia in Dominican Republic in 2021
A copy of the painting on display at a mass in honor to Our Lady of Altagracia in the Dominican Republic Image by Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz

  Dates of Lady of Altagracia in Dominican Republic
2022 Dominican Republic Fri, Jan 21 National Holiday
2021 Dominican Republic Thu, Jan 21 National Holiday
2020 Dominican Republic Tue, Jan 21 National Holiday
2019 Dominican Republic Mon, Jan 21 National Holiday
2018 Dominican Republic Sun, Jan 21 National Holiday
  Summary
Our Lady of Altagracia is a portrait of the Virgin Mary painted in the 16th century, kept in The Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia in the city of Salvaleón de Higüey
  Local name
Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia

When is Day of the Lady of Altagracia?

The Day of the Lady of Altagracia (high grace) is a national holiday in the Dominican Republic, celebrated on January 21st. Depending on what day of the week, January 21st falls on, this holiday can be moved to a Monday or Friday.

It is one of two national holidays dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Our Lady of Altagracia is a portrait of the Virgin Mary.

History of the Day of the Lady of Altagracia

One story of the painting is that in 16th-century Salvaleón de Higüey there was a merchant who always brought his daughter a gift from his travels. One day, the daughter asked her father if he could bring her a portrait of the Virgin Mary as she had a dream about one. Her father struggled to find an image on his journey.  In an inn on his way back home, an old, long-bearded man overheard the merchant talking about his problem. The old man then unfurled the image of Our Lady of Altagracia, (Our Lady of High Grace), and gave it to the merchant.

The daughter cherished her painting, but every morning, she would awake to find the picture had moved from her house and was always found outside her house, under a small orange tree. This continued until the girl told her parents, after which the place became sacred and a church was built upon on the spot to signify the grace of the Virgin Mary.

This is a beguiling story, but the painting was most likely Spanish and brought to the island in 1502 by two brothers.

Whatever the truth, the painting has been on display since 1571 and is an appropriate physical symbol for the deep devotion and respect offered to the Virgin Mary by the people of the Dominican Republic.

The painting was moved to the Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia after the cathedral was made a minor basilica by Pope Paul VI in December 1970.

The Virgin Mary is the Patron saint of the Dominican Republic and more than 800,000 visit the Basilica to see the image of Our Lady of Altagracia each year.

This festival was originally held on August 15th (Assumption of Mary) but was moved to January 21st to celebrate a victory over the French in 1690.

The other national holiday dedicated to the Virgin Mary is Our Lady of Mercedes Day on September 24th.

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