Tania González / Luis Ortega / Vivian Ariza
The veneration of the Virgen del Valle is one of those religious traditions that surrounds the entire Venezuelan coastal area. The entire eastern area has "Vallita" as its patron.
The image of La Virgen del Valle is from "La Purísima" or Immaculate Conception. Made in Spain and then brought to the lands of the new continent, approximately in the year 1.500. It was commissioned for the church of Nueva Cádiz, on the island of Cubagua, where it lasted only a short time.
When the depopulation of this island occurs, its inhabitants arrive in Margarita, between 1.525 and 1.530, taking with them the precious image that begins to be linked to the population of the Valley of the Holy Spirit, from where it takes its name.
This is how the priest and writer Monsignor Carlos Romero Moreno refers in the document "Origin and Development of the cult to the Virgin of the Valley in time", collected in the Golden Book of the Virgin of the Valley.
Brother Nectario María, one of the renowned historians of the Virgin, affirms that this invocation of Mary is a pioneer in Marian devotions in Venezuela. "She marks the beginning of evangelization in our country, with an indigenous name: Our Lady of the Valley."
His canonical coronation took place on September 8, 1911, by Dr. Antonio María Durán, Bishop of the Diocese of Guayana, on which the island of Margarita depended then, ecclesiastically. The Virgen del Valle is the Patron Saint of eastern Venezuela, fishermen and the Bolivarian National Navy.
Celebration in Margarita.
The covid-19 pandemic forced the church to adapt the festivities of the Virgen del Valle to protect the parishioners, without neglecting the devotion to its Patron. Monsignor Fernando Castro Aguayo, Bishop of Margarita, reported, in a letter to the community , that the festivities will be private; The parishioners will be able to participate in the liturgical ceremonies, between the first and the 8th of September through the local media and the instagram @basilicadelvalle, at 10 am.
“With pain I announce that the Basilica will be totally closed. We are going to ensure that each family is a temple where Our Lady of the Valley is celebrated and honored ”, wrote Castro Aguayo. The porters will make the traditional descent from their altar and will be dressed by their waitress Cecilia Mata.
The cultists will offer dances, poems, songs and painting, in virtual programming that will be broadcast on the Basilica's social networks and local media. They will present the video of the song “Perpetual Light of the Valley”, by the composer Freddy Bermúdez, interpreted by the teacher Miguel Serra, Living Cultural Heritage of the state; Lucienne Sanabria, Jennifer Moya and Oscar Mata, accompanied by maestro Alberto “Beto” Valderrama Patiño and his group. The Navy will perform the traditional mass aboard a boat off the island.
From La Guaira.
Visiting the Paseo de Macuto or the Muelle de La Zorra, to walk the image of the Virgen del Valle and pay promises, will be just a dream this year, because the security measure before convid-19 will not allow it. Devotees and parishioners of the Virgin in La Guaira, will enthrone the patron saint of fishermen at the doors of their houses and in community squares, to ask for the health of the people, this September 8, the day of their festival.
Tradition is characterized in La Guaira by the elaborate dresses and decorations of the image, which each year wears colorful fabrics according to the promise. “I dream of the virgin and I notice the color of the clothes I wear. A few days around September 8 I see the color that stands out the most everywhere. This year she will wear her dresses in the window of the house, since the covid does not allow her to walk through La Guaira or by boat, ”said Morelis Thoise, from Puente de Jesús.
Devotees, their families and even community seamstresses make the costumes. Some have orders up to a year in advance. The dresses stand out for their mantle, which covers the image from head to toe, "they are generally pastel and strong colors, even the tricolor of the flag they ask for."
He said that it is a detailed work because the images are small or medium and the suits require embroidery, rhinestones, darning and even lace, explained Carmen Ríos, from Macuto.
The Rojas family, for 70 years, has taken the image to the door of their house on San Juan de Dios street in La Guaira. Tradition that Dolores Rojas started when she arrived from Margarita, said Aiskel Yurden
In Anzoátegui, without a procession or crowds, the tradition of Our Lady of the Valley of the Holy Spirit will be commemorated in the more than 60 parishes of the two Dioceses of Anzoátegui. The bishops Jorge Aníbal Quintero (Barcelona) and José Romero (El Tigre) asked the faithful to convert each house into a sanctuary to venerate the patron saint of the East as a family. The María Auxiliadora de Lechería church will hold the Eucharist at 9 am, officiated by Monsignor Quintero with the attendance of 10 priests and few people. The Diocese of El Tigre will hold the events at the Virgen del Valle Basilica at 8 am. Monsignor Romero announced that after the mass, the image will travel through the sectors adjacent to the parish.
Religious authorities recalled that because they are unable to carry out any massive act, the masses will be broadcast by official networks, radio stations and regional media.
The fishermen, not being able to make their traditional journey through the sea, organize themselves to visit the fishing villages of Lechería and Puerto La Cruz with the image of their patron.