September 6-15 in the city of Salta.
The city of Salta was founded in 1582, and ten years later an image of Christ on the Cross was sent from Spain for its Cathedral, along with an image of the Virgin of the Rosary for the city of Córdoba. The two images showed up floating in closed boxes on the sea in front of Lima’s port, El Callao, with no sign of the ship that had brought them. They were delivered to their respective destinations, and in Salta the population soon forgot about their Christ, to the point of relegating the image to the church’s Altar of the Dead. On September 8, 1692, a wealthy family brought their image of the Virgin Mary to the Cathedral to celebrate her nativity, and fortunately left it there for a few days. On the morning of September 13, a strong earthquake rocked the city of Salta for 15 minutes. (The quake, which is calculated to have reached 7 on the Richter scale, completely destroyed the rich and legendary city of Esteco -- the epicenter – a mere 170 km from Salta City.) When the townspeople rushed to the Cathedral to beg for mercy, they saw that the image of the Virgin had fallen to the floor from a height of three meters but was miraculously intact, and that its face was changing colors. Aftershocks continued for three days, despite all the processions that took place.
Then a priest heard the voice of God: they had to take the image of Christ off the humble spot they had assigned it and carry it through the streets if they wanted an end to the aftershocks. They did so and the earth stopped trembling. Nevertheless, the feminine image was the one that was immediately assigned her Our Lady of the Miracle title; the masculine one had to wait until 1760 to become Our Lord of the Miracle. At any rate, the two of them have presided over processions every September since 1692, and are credited with having saved the city from severe damage from two other quakes in 1844 and 1948. Every year, the first novena is said on September 6, and in the afternoon of September 15 more than 250,000 pilgrims from all Argentina and neighboring countries come to join the big procession through the streets of the city. The images are taken from the Cathedral to the intersection of Paseo Güemes with Avenida Irigoyen, where the townspeople renew their oath of fealty to the figures that they represent. When they return to their places in the Cathedral, a shower of white, pink and red carnation petals falls from the belfry of the Cathedral.
Other worthwhile experiences at this time of year: a couple of days resting at a farm house owned by a traditional family in the Lerma Valley; a pack trip in one of the Calchaquí valleys; an excursion to Iruya.
Photo credit: The image of Our Lord of the Miracle is taken from the Cathedral of Salta at the beginning of the procession. Ministry of Tourism of Salta.