All of a sudden, our car began to go along narrow ravines surrounded by high hills and mountains. Among them, there were some small lenga and cypress forests.
After driving for about 30 kilometers, we pulled over to visit the Sanctuary of Saint Sebastian, located on the side of the road. After parking, we went inside the place in order to see it.
Inside this place, hundreds of people get together to pray and thank the Saint for granting their wishes. Lit candles highlight that the faith felt for Saint Sebastian is everywhere. Memorial plates, photographs, crosses, flowers and hundreds of offerings to the Saint for having granted their wishes may be seen when visiting this retreat.
Legend has it that when the City of Chillán was founded in 1580, the image of Saint Sebastian, which was made of cedar and brought from Spain, was placed in the city church. Since then, this church has worshipped the Saint in the Sanctuary of Yumbel. This image was there until 1655, when the Mapuche uprising led by Lientur and Butapichún destroyed the city. The few surviving Spaniards fled with the statue and buried it near the fort of Yumbel where it remained hidden for seven years. Once Chillán was rebuilt, the Spanish soldiers wanted to take their Saint away. However, as the legend says, the Saint did not allow the ox cart to move his statue. This statue has been the spiritual and historical treasure of Yumbel ever since.
As it happens with most popular beliefs, the story of this Saint who wanted to "stay" in this land crossed borders and nowadays it is possible to find it in this place of worship near Coyhaique and Aysén. Mostly truck drivers and other tourists passing by honk their car horns as a tribute to this Saint.
After touring the Sanctuary with utmost respect, we headed to Puerto Aysén. More than two kilometers ahead, we reached a second religious place, where the Cave of the Virgin Mary is located next to the spectacular Virgin Falls –so called for its proximity to the grotto.
We stopped to contemplate the waterfall. The strong fall creates some sort of crown and veil which accounts for its name. To better appreciate this show of nature, visitors may stand on the side of the bridge.
This place was officially opened on May 21, 1955 by Father Mario Zanella, who urged the faithful to keep working to make this a Sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Half a century later, Father Luis Infanti turned this place into a worship place to honor the Virgin Mary, Patron Saint of the Catholic Vicariate of Aysén. Every February 11th, hundreds of pilgrims reach the place to pay tribute to the Virgin.
ExtrasPrint this outing
Useful DataHow to get there
Take Route 240 heading to Puerto Aysén. Halfway down the road there lie these places of prayer and solace.Opening hours
Open all day