‘La Ruta del Peregrino’ (Pilgrims Route)

2013 September 2013 Suzanne A. Marshall

By Suzanne A. Marshall from the September 2013 Edition

While wintering in Manzanillo I have had the pleasure of joining ‘the ladies’ for lunch a few times. Having a network of local friends that I can call or e-mail, my ‘Manzanillo life’ is evolving with interesting events and places to visit that I wasn’t always aware of. These lunches were with an association called Las Mujeres Amigas. Roughly translated it means women friends.

I would estimate because of the busier winter season, that there were up to one hundred women in attendance enjoying a lovely lunch at Club Oasis and being treated on different occasions to a roster of speakers on various topics from gardening to government regulation changes for foreigners in Mexico. It was and is, very interesting and helpful.

But on this particular day we are being treated to a lovely man willing to stand in front of all these women and give us tips on shooting photos with the ever changing modern technology we pack around in our pockets and purses.

These would be IPhones, Androids and a whole host of products offering cameras as an option. In the course of providing some great tips on framing a photo properly in one-third dimensions, lighting and tools to edit and photo shop our subjects, he began to tell us of his recent experience with local friends on a pilgrimage to Talpa de Allende and to share some of the photos he had captured on this journey.

The hush in the room as he spoke underscored the reverence, admiration and emotion that he expressed about the dedication and sacrifice that so many Mexicans demonstrate by taking this difficult journey of a lifetime as a demonstration of true faith and love in honor of the legend of the Virgin of Talpa.

Many of us were very moved by his obvious emotions and for me; it was a rare occasion to be exposed to such open feelings and vulnerability. I was very moved by this for I come from a world of control where expressing deep emotions is difficult and often frowned upon. I really admired this man and I was left with a desire to learn more about this pilgrimage.

La Ruta del Peregrino stretches out on a distance of 117 kilometers. Approximately two million people participate each year in this religious phenomenon coming from different parts of Mexico to walk through the mountain ranges of Jalisco starting in the town of Ameca, ascending to el Cerro del Obispo at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level, crossing the peak of Espinazo del Diablo to descend to its final destination in the town of Talpa de Allende to meet with the Virgin of Talpa as an act of devotion, faith and gratitude. This religious voyage has taken place since the 17th century, for the pilgrims the act of faith is carried to a penitence, the conditions of the route are harsh. This sacrifice carried with austerity is an essential part of the promise or offering that becomes the ritual of Festivities begin in Talpa every year on March 24th to commemorate a day upon which the Virgin was unearthed and continues for three months. The statue of the Virgin was discovered in a small chapel, was restored and taken away to a church in a distant town. The next morning however, the Virgin was back in Talpa. The journey overnight was impossible and the faithful saw it as a miracle. Over the years there have been many miraculous healings attested to by letters and cards in an adjoining room bearing witness and giving thanks.purification.

Talpa de Allende Church
Vista of Talpa de Allende, Jalisco


As is often the case, the legend of the Rosario de Talpa (Virgin) takes on various stories that twist and turn though the centuries and no one can say for sure if all of these are  attributable. But the fact remains that the faithful believe, and their experience is one of pure joy   and submission. We have all heard that faith can move mountains. So be it. I love Mexico and its people.

The link below takes you to a fascinating Mexican news story in English of the travelling Virgin taken to local peoples and ranchers. It is another view of the ceremony that exists around the legend and the faithful who believe and honor her.


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