To commemorate the anniversary of a statue of the Virgin Mary being discovered in Argentina, 400 small grottos are being constructed in one region of the country.
Four hundred years ago, an indigenous Argentine discovered a statue of Our Lady in a rock niche on the side of a remote slope. The image bears the brown skin tone of the native population, and has led to widespread popular devotion, under the title Our Lady of the Valley, the patroness of the province of Catamarca, where the discovery occurred.
Marking the 400th anniversary of the finding of the statue, the bishops of Argentina have declared December 8, 2019 to December 8, 2020 a National Marian Year. The year 2020 also marks the 500th anniversary of the first Mass offered on Argentine soil.
Parishioners at Our Lady of the Rosary parish in the town of Hualfín in Catamarca suggested the idea of building 400 grottos as part of the celebration. The idea was approved by Bishop Luis Urbane of Catamarca and the parish councils in the area. Each parish is responsible for building 13 of the small grottos.
The first grotto has already been completed and was blessed on January 30 in the hamlet of Laguna Blanca.