Virgin of the Snow, Saint of Mountaineers

The Virgin of the Snow has her own place. Every year, her followers come along on a pilgrimage to worship her image.

It was easy to access the Virgin of the Snow grotto and pleasant to see the generous space she enjoys in the outskirts of San Carlos de Bariloche. The chapel was built with local stone, one rock on top of the other in order to provide shelter to the image of the virgin. We went up a wide staircase divided into three stretches. Old tall trees of thin trunks watched over the site on both sides of the path. We were surprised to see the number of plates on the wall of stone. Made of various materials and featuring different formats, they had all been placed there with the same fervor to say “Thank You”. Who knows why all those people thanked the virgin in writing after their prayers had been heard? It was spine-chilling. We felt that faith and gratitude could be bigger than the miracle itself. Some lit candles, others already out, natural and artificial flowers were seen all around. Each of these elements implied a life history.

  • Has her own place

    Has her own place

  • On a mountain slope

    On a mountain slope

  • The virgin stands at the top of the grotto

    The virgin stands at the top of the grotto

  • To say “Thank You”

    To say “Thank You”

The image of the virgin stands at the top of the grotto, sheltered from the weather behind bars and a glass, and it is holding Child Jesus in her arms. Ever since 1945, she has been nestled in the same site. It was the chief of the mountain military school who ordered the construction of the grotto after he was involved in a car accident and he survived miraculously. Afterwards, the Virgin of the Snow was well-known for her gifts. She was also visited by mountaineers before climbing up the mountain, by sportsmen and workmen. They would come along to the grotto and pray: “Mother of the Snow, as Patron Saint may you protect your children lovers of mountain activities” “And let this prayer be heard: hail Holy Mother of God, protect the mountaineers and let the good snow enrich our fields.” According to what we had read, Our Lady of the Snow is an ancient protector known since the times of the foundation of Buenos Aires. She is considered to guard believers from natural threats and to carry out miraculous healings. In the Catholic calendar, August 5 is the commemoration date of Our Lady of the Snow. Every year, the congregation gets together on a pilgrimage from faraway hamlets to the grotto in order to offer their heart. It is said that the number of pilgrims increases year after year. They come from other cities in Patagonia to worship the Virgin. This has become one of the greatest Christian movements in Bariloche. In the city, another image of the Virgin of the Snow is located inside the church cathedral, at one of the side altars. As we devoted some minutes to understanding the force ruling over this spot, a man approached us, stopped in front of the image for a moment and crossed himself. Apparently, her followers arrive in the grotto at any moment, not necessarily on the day of the procession. They meditate, pray, leave a request. Only a few minutes are enough to pay respect. Faith can move mountains. In this case, it was completely proved.

Autor Mónica Pons Fotografo Eduardo Epifanio

Recommendations It lies 15 kilometers away from San Carlos de Bariloche, on the junction of the road to Mount Catedral and the road to Lake Gutiérrez, at the access to Los Coihues Neighborhood.

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