Sunday, March 15, 2015

La Pastorcita - the little shepherdess

There are many religious customs here that I’ve never heard of.

Today in the town of San Agustín they celebrated La Pastorcita.

La Pastoricita – the little shepherdess – is a statue of Mary with a sombrero and a lamb at her feet.

 The statue had been taken from its niche and placed up front. In place of her usual white dress, she was clothed in pink.  I don’t know if it was on purpose but the statue was earing the liturgical color of today, Laetare Sunday, pink. Padre German, however, wore purple vestments.

I had tried to find more information on the feast and found a few references to La Pastorcita or La Pastora de las Almas – the shepherdess of souls. Mary seems to have been identified as a shepherdess by, among others, St. John of God and St. Peter Alcantara, two sixteenth century Spanish saints.

But the devotion seems to have started in Seville, Spain, by a Capuchin friar, Isidoro of Sevilla, who had a painting made after two dreams he had. Later a statue was made.  The devotion seems to have begun about 1703.

The devotion to La Pastorcita is found in various places in Spain and Venezuela.

But how did it get to San Agustín, Copán, Honduras?

As far as I can tell, an Italian missionary who was pastor of the parish of Dulce Nombre de María in the 1950s and 1960s brought the image to San Agustín – as well as the image of Saint Augustine. He would come to the municipality on March 14 to celebrate Mass that evening and on March 15, the feast day.

The feast day, as one person told me, was on the day the statue was brought to the church.

So the history I have is sparse since I didn’t have much time today to gather more information. Perhaps this is one of those little projects I should get some young people in San Agustín to work on.

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