So technically not in Pasto, Colombia, but rather in the city of Ipiales, you’ll find this one of a kind church. It’s about an hour drive away from Pasto, and well worth the trip.
The Roman Catholic basilica is named Santuario de las Lajas (Las Lajas Sanctuary), in reference to the “Lajas,” the stone type that makes up the cliffs on either side of the structure. The creation of the church in such an unusual place was inspired by another legend. It is said that a woman by the name of Maria Mueces was seeking shelter during a storm with her mute daughter Rosa in 1754. They found refuge under one of the big stones and survived the storm. That was the first miracle. The second miracle was when Rosa shouted to her mother, “la mestiza is calling me,” after seeing an apparition that helped navigate their way back home. Rosa was then able to hear and speak.
When Maria Mueces tried to tell people of these miracles, no one believed her. She finally managed to get a priest and some other locals to see come see the spot where the miracles had happened. That is when the third miracle took place. An image of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus appeared carved on the stone in that exact spot.
Ever since, shrines were built around the image of the Virgin. Eventually, the church was constructed and became a site of pilgrimage for those in need of miracles. Plaques from thankful believers that have received their miracles now line the lajas surrounding the sanctuary. The church was declared a Basilica by the vatican in 1994. The image of the Virgin still remains on the stone wall on the back of the basilica. There still has not been another explanation of the image, and this story is told during every mass thanking the Virgin Mary.
Besides the legends, religion, and miracles, this is an architectural delight. The way the basilica is structured in a valley over a river is something to marvel over.
A little off the beaten, but well worth the visit!