Every 21 January is Lady of Altagracia Day in Dominican Republic, a public holiday dedicated to the nation’s patron saint, “Our Lady of Altagracia”.
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Our Lady of Altagracia means “Our Lady of High Grace”. It refers to a picture of the Virgin Mary that forms part of a painting depicting the birth of Christ, which was painted sometime around the year A.D. 1500. The painting was brought from Spain to what is now Dominican Repubic by the two “Trejo brothers” when they moved there as colonists. Eventually, they donated it to the church in Higuey.
In 1572, a shrine was built in honour of this picture of Mary, and then, in 1971, the picture itself was moved to be housed in the Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of High Grace located in the city of Higuey. On two separate occasions, a pope came and placed a crown on the head of this picture.
On Lady of Altagracia Day, there are special church services, all night vigils, and cultural festivals held all across the nation of Dominican Republic.