Although La Conquistadora: The Autobiography of an Ancient Statue exemplifies perhaps the most significant example of the Virgin statue folklore, the purpose of studying the history and importance of statue can be seen in “Nuestra Señora de la Macana,” an article also written by Angelico Chavez.
Currently located in the San Francisco del Convento Grande in Mexico City, Nuestra Señora de la Macana has had a long journey to its current location. A copy of a Madonna of Toledo, Spain, Nuestra Señora de la Macana was brought to Santa Fe by Franciscan Friars shortly before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Her original name was titled Nuestra Señora del Sagrario. Similar to La Conquistadora, the statue is made out of wood, painted, and covered with cloth. Many stories are attributed to Macana, including one of a paralyzed girl that prayed to the statue and found herself healed. In its current location in Tlalnepantla, Mexico, one can see a painting depicting the rebellion, in which an Indian hits a Spaniard with the statue.
After discussing the history of La Nuestra Señora de la Macana, the author states his purpose in providing the history of the statue. He asserts that “the brief history … loses none of its charm after its elements of strange wonder have been pinned down onto historical facts (89).” Rather, “this dovetailing of lore and fact enhances the value of the legend as it adds to our store of historical knowledged. It also illustrates an old contention of [Chavez], that folklore and history need not be inimical or contradictory, that genuine folklore is the poetry of history (89).” (Emphasis added.)
Thus, if one contrasts Chavez’s study of La Conquistadora with that o fNuestra Señora de la Macana, he can see the purpose of connecting the folklore of venerated statues with historical studies. They provide an imagery of the people, showcasing the religiosity interwoven in events, such as the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, as shown here.
Angelico Chavez, “Nuestra Señora de la Macana,” New Mexico Historical Review 34(1959): 81-100.