The entire city of Guadalajara de Buga, as it is offically known, seems to be build with the "Miracle Church" as it's crown jewel. If one is approaching the basilica from the front, it is possible to have an unobstructed view of it for about the preceding seven blocks as a buildingless bricked promenade leads worpshippers toward the towering building.
|Basilica del Señor de los Milagros|
As a municipality, Buga is one of Colombia's oldest cities, founded in the mid-1500's. Part of this reason is tied directly to the church and its miracle-giving properties. According to the story, when missionaries from Spain came to the area they attempted to convert the local indigenous populations. One indian woman was saving her money to be able to buy a small crucifix for herself. One day she saw some conquistadors taking a man away to jail for his outstanding debts which he couldn't pay due to his poor econimic standing and his large family, who needed food. The indian woman payed the man's debts which her crucifix-savings. Later, while she was washing clothes at the river, a small crucifix came floating by. She took the tiny cross home and, according to legend, it grew bigger and bigger each day. The cross now hangs in the church crypt behind the altar in a glass case where visitors can view it during church hours.
Although we did not see anyone, it is customary to revisit the church, as a show a gratitude, should your miracle be granted. People blessed with miracles walk on their knees into the church; some, presumabley, from several blocks away. Maybe I can swing a return visit if June 18th arrives and no one - students or teacher -have been hospitalized. That might be a miracle.