The image known today as the Virgen de Juquila was originally owned by a Dominican friar named Jordán de Santa Catarina, who in the seventeenth century evangelized among Chatinos in southern Oaxaca. When he was called back to Oaxaca city, Fray Jordán gave the image—a small statue, about a foot in height—to his Chatino assistant, who took it home to his village, Amialtepec. Devotion spread throughout the region when indigenous Christians reported miracles and, especially, when the image survived a fire that destroyed the village. In 1633 the priest at the parish seat in Juquila sought the transfer of the image to the church there, which he regarded as more suitable for devotion to a miraculous image with a growing cult. Despite protests the priest forced the transfer, but soon after arrival in Juquila the image returned miraculously to its original site in Amialtepec. The transfer and return occurred on three separate occasions, until finally the priest gave up. Several decades later his successor resumed the effort to enshrine the image in Juquila, and in 1719 a ceremonial procession led by barefooted priests transported the image to the main altar of Juquila’s church. Devotees relate that the Virgen de Juquila accepted the transfer because—unlike the forced attempts earlier—her permission had been requested and granted, and because the transfer was made with due reverence.
The photographs in the following selection were taken primarily at the Virgen de Juquila’s pedimento, where votaries visit a replica image and request miracles using petitionary objects formed with the clay dirt at the site. The concluding photographs, with the exception of the last, were taken at the principal shrine in town.