Virgen del Choro Our Lady of Guadalupe, Flemish sculptor, 1498


THE shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe, in Extremadura, Spain, was the most important Marian shrine in the medieval kingdom of Castile.  It was there that Ferdinand and Isabella signed documents authorizing Columbus' voyages of exploration, and it was to this shrine that Columbus returned to give thanks after his first voyage to the New World.

ACCORDING to the tradition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Extremadura, around the year 1310 the Virgin appeared to a humble cowherd named Gil Cordero who was searching for a missing animal in the mountains. He stated that the Virgin Mary had appeared and ordered him to request that priests dig at the site of the apparition. Excavating priests discovered a legendary statue (reputedly lost since the seventh century) said to have been carved by Luke the Evangelist and given to Saint Leander, archbishop of Seville, by Pope Gregory I.   and built a small shrine around it which evolved into the great Guadalupe monastery. Pilgrims were visiting the shrine by 1326, and by 1340 King Alfonso XI patronized and funded the shrine, which became a Hieronymite monastery.





Virgen del Coro

1498 or 1499

“Creating the Virgin of Guadalupe”, Jeanette Favrot Peterson, The Americas, Volume 61, Number 4, April 2005, pp. 571-610

THE “VIRGEN DEL CORO” the the so-called Virgen del Coro or Choir Virgin, is a late fifteenth-century relief sculpture located on a back wall in the choir loft of the Extremaduran sanctuary (The wood polychome relief is suspended under an architectural arch and above the prior’s own choir stall. In size and general configuration, the Choir Virgin does resemble the painted tilma image [in Mexico], but to assess this comparison one needs to visually erase the elaborate canopy and tasseled curtains being parted by two ebullient angels, the result of a 1743 restoration by Manuel de Lara y Churriguera. Stripped of its gilded ornamentation, the relief sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary with radiating solar rays, both straight and undulant, and she stands on a sickle moon supported by a single cherub. The front-facing Virgin, with arms caressing a nude and active Christ Child, is however, in distinct contrast to the Mexican tilma image. The original relief sculpture was hung during the renovation of the choir loft under the prior Pedro de Vidania (1498-1501)  in late 1498 or 1499, and was the work of a Flemish sculptor, who may have been a certain Guillemin Digante.

Shrine and City of Guadalupe, Spain Statue in Sancturay