The Basilica Of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle National Shrine is a place where people come to pray, to sing, to worship and to marvel. It's a Catholic pilgrimage site where visitors average 10,000 to 20,000 a week and come from every state in the Union and from many foreign countries. Learn more here in San Juan Texas
The devotion to the Virgin of San Juan has its roots in the small village of San Juan de Los Lagos, Mexico. Spanish missionaries erected a small image of the Immaculate Conception in the church of San Juan de Los Lagos, a town founded near Guadalajara following the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
When migrant Mexicans moved northward, the community in San Juan de Los Lagos began to foster a devotion to Our Lady of San Juan. Reverend Jose Maria Azpiazu of the parish in San Juan received permission from his bishop to promote this devotion, and he commissioned an artist to make a replica of the statue venerated in San Juan de Los Lagos.
Once completed, the statue was placed in the church's San Juan Chapel until a larger shrine could be built. The new shrine, dedicated to the Virgin of San Juan in 1954, was enlarged and embellished with oil paintings, wood carvings, stained-glass windows, and statues.
Outside the shrine, a walkway spanning almost a mile has beautifully crafted life-size statues of the fourteen stations of the Cross, offering quiet time for prayerful reflection as you walk along the paths.
This historic site has a long and complex history. It is also a significant cultural center for the entire community.
While the building itself looks beautiful from the outside, it's inside that you can find the enduring spirit of the devotion to Our Lady of San Juan. The basilica's main attraction is a reproduction of the beloved statue from San Juan de Los Lagos.
The Virgin of San Juan's devoted followers believe that she has been known to perform miracles in the Valley. They have been able to recover from illnesses, injuries and even terminal diseases through the help of her intercession.
I had the chance to attend a healing service at the Basilica Of Our Lady of San Juan del Valley National Shrine, held on the last Saturday of each month. The service was attended by over six hundred people, most of whom had stayed for the full mass after seeking healing from the priests and volunteers who were present.
During the healing service, I was seated in the choir section of the sanctuary and watched as Father Edouard Atangana, coordinator of Health Ministries for the Diocese of Brownsville, performed the mass. Atangana, who is a native of Cameroon, delivered the sermon in both English and Spanish. He described the biblical story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and told the crowd that God often works through the power of His people to bring healing.
This devotion to Our Lady of San Juan is a testament to the power of faith and the miracles that can be accomplished through prayer and trust in God. It is an encouragement to those who are struggling to find peace in their lives, and a reminder that there is always hope. Learn more information about Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge