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Puerto Rican Wooden Saints: Images of
The Virgin of Montserrat
and the Miracle of Hormigueros
Click on the thumbnails to open the images in their own page


The large image above is of the Virgin of  Hormigueros carved in the 19th century, donated by the collector Teodoro Vidal to the Smithsonian Institute in 1997.
See Vidal's entire collection  donated to the Smithsonian's Museum of American History.

Virgin of Montserrat

de Lares
siglo XIX

Nitza Mediavilla de Toste

José A. Román

Luis Gonzále

Pepe Ramos
siglo XIX

Juan Crespo

Unknown carver
Siglo 19

Vírgin of/Miracle of Hormigueros

circa 1940


Luis Nieves

Domingo Orta

José Luis Milán


The Church of Monserrat in Orihuela, Spain
What is the tradition surrounding the Virgin of Montserrat?
     The tradition revolves around the image of Our Lady of Montserrat, patron of Orihuela, which was sculpted by Saint Nicomedes and which was brought to the Spanish town of Orihuela during the early years of Christianity. Christians worshiped the image until around the years 790 to 800--fearing the insolences of the Moors--they hid the image in a mountain cave.
     450 years later, in 1306, the far-off and continual peal of a bell was heard during three consecutive nights from a place in the mountain that attracted the faithful. After digging at the spot they discovered a cave in which the image was found underneath a bell, of the Virgin sitting on a chair holding in her right hand a child that held a bird in his hands.
     The sacred image was made of rot-resistant olive wood measuring 42 cm. in height. In 1633 the virgin of Montserrat was proclaimed the patron of Orihuela and she was coronated by canonic edict. In 1936, when the Spanish Civil War began, the image was burned and when peace was declared in 1939 an exact copy of the original was enthroned.

Virgin of Monserrate, Teodoro Vidal Collection
What is the Miracle of Hormigueros?
The story of the Miracle of Hormigueros dates back to 1599, with the apparition of the Virgin in the town of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico. The tradition tells that Gerardo González, a farmer, was attacked by a bull, and terrified, he invoked the name of the Virgin. Suddenly, the bull fell to its knees, its front legs broken, as if it was praying. Out of gratitude, González built and dedicated a church to Our Lady of Montserrat.
     Around the 18th of September, the day of Our Lady of Monserrat, patron saint festivities are observed in Hormigueros, one of the most popular and well-attended in all
 Puerto Rico. On this day, many people appear at the sanctuary of the Virgin which dates back to the middle of the 18th century, and to other ancient structures in the town. On Christmas, sung aguinaldos are offered as an ancient tradition followed by residents of Hormigueros to this day.