The Holy Sanctuary of Cacaulí

The small rural community of Cacaulí, situated between Esteli and Somoto in Nicaragua, would have remained a quiet little village, undiscovered by the rest of the world, if not for one life-changing event experienced by one of the village boys almost two decades ago.

It was in 1990 that thirteen-year-old Panchito was going about the task of collecting firewood, as he had done almost daily in the past years, and no doubt would do in years to come. But this one day was different from all others. On this day Panchito was convinced that he saw the Virgin Mary. He was so convincing in his re-telling of the event, that it sparked interest in all the people of the village and they all believed him.

News like this would have been impossible for the villagers to keep to themselves, and in a short space of time the story spread throughout the Nicaraguan department of Madriz. From Madriz, the story spread to the rest of Nicaragua and even beyond the country’s borders. The place where Panchito reportedly saw the Virgin Mary became known as the Sanctuary of Cacaulí. An altar with a figure of the Virgin Mary has been set up there, surrounded by a wall and with simple stone steps, which are used for seating, rising up from the altar platform.

On the eighth day of every month, sincere worshippers flock to the Sanctuary of Cacaulí, hoping that the Virgin Mary may perform a miracle on their behalf. For many of the pilgrims, the pilgrimage starts on the seventh day when they hold a vigil. On the eighth day more pilgrims arrive and the priest from Somoto holds mass at 10:00 a.m. After the mass has been concluded, Panchito relates his experience to the crowd. People who have been on the pilgrimage before may tell stories of the miracles that they have experienced.

These devout pilgrims travel to the Sanctuary of Cacaulí from all around Nicaragua, as well as from beyond its borders – and this is no small event. According to locals, sometimes there are more than 15,000 people who gather at the sanctuary. These people come from all walk’s of life and widely varying social classes, but they are united in their desire for a miracle.