How To Celebrate Our Lady of Altagracia- Feast Day Ideas

Our Lady of Altagracia is a well known title of Our Lady from the Dominican Republic. She is also known in Spanish as Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia,  which means Our Lady of High Grace, or Our Lady of Thanks. This virgin comes with an amazing story, sure to captivate you and your children! Her feast day happens each year on January 21, which is a national holiday for the Dominican Republic. She is the patroness of the country of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and there are so many fun ways you can celebrate this feast day. You can find all my resources on living liturgically in January here. Let’s take a look at how to celebrate Our Lady of Altagracia.

Disclaimer: Links included may be affiliate links, meaning that if you click through and order I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

I have been working hard to branch out and learn about more titles of Our Lady from around the world, and reading about this title of Mary was truly a joy! I love learning all the different feast day celebrations from around the world. 

First, if you’re not sure how to pronounce this particular name of Our Lady, it’s al-ta-GRA-see-ah

Our Lady Of Altagracia Quick Facts

As always, it’s a lot easier to plan your celebrating when you learn about that title of Mary first. Here are some highlights of the story of Our Lady of Altagracia.  

  • Image of the Virgin Mary with 
  • Patroness of the Dominican Republic and Haiti 
  • Has many legends revolving around oranges
  • In the early 1500’s, the Spanish brought an image of Our Lady of High Grace with them from their homeland of Altagracia
  • It was displayed in a church in Higüey and many miracles became associated with the image
  • After drawing attention the Archbishop had it moved to Santo Domingo (100 miles away) in a sealed trunk, but it disappeared on the way there, reappearing in its original location
  • She is Our Lady of “High Grace” because of the tremendous grace it is to be the mother of Jesus 

How To Recognize The Image Of Our Lady Of Altagracia:

  • It has the entire holy family on the image
  • Our Lady is in the center adoring baby Jesus 
  • St. Joseph can be seen in the background 
  • Mary is wearing a dark blue mantle with golden stars 
  • Golden stars around her head in a crown
  • One big star in the sky- the one the wise men followed 
  • Baby Jesus lays in front of her in a manger
  • Mary is wearing a crown
  • The image itself shares the colors of the Dominican flag, which are red white and blue, so for this reason, many red white and blue decorations are generally used in churches, on various altars, and on clothing for this feast day.

Here is the traditional image of Our Lady of Altagracia.

Story Of Our Lady Of Altagracia And The Oranges

In the 16th century there was a little girl who lived in what is modern day Dominican Republic. She had a dream where she saw Our Lady. He dad was a merchant, and traveled often. When he would travel, he would bring gifts to his daughter. She asked her father to bring her this specific image of Our Lady, and described the lady from her dreams. Although her father searched for such an image, he was unable to find it.

One day when her father was in the town of Higüey, an elderly man with a long beard overheard the story of him searching for this image for his daughter. He presented a matching image, Our Lady of High Grace, to her father painted on a 13 inch by 18 inch piece of fabric. He was delighted and brought the image home to his daughter! 

She hung the picture in her room, but when they woke in the morning, the picture had vanished! Then they discovered that it appeared in a grove of orange trees. No matter how many times they brought the image back to her room, it reappeared in the orange trees. So a church was built among the orange tree grove, and the picture is displayed inside for all to see. 

The image is now on display in the Basilica of Our Lady of Argentina and seen by more than 800,000 pilgrims each year! Many miracles have been associated with this image, such as the curing of illness and the granting of various prayers. Some believe that the colors of the Dominican flag were taken from the image of this Mary. 

Our Lady Of Altagracia Celebrations In The Dominican Republic

Some of the Dominican traditions for the feast day of Our Lady of Altagracia include:

  • People gathering in the street and going to the Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia to view the image of Our Lady
  • All night vigils held until daybreak 
  • Singing, dancing, praying, and processions with candles
  • They process with images of Our Lady of Altagracia through the street and in their churches
  • Masses dedicated to Our Lady of Altagracia run throughout the day 
  • It is also traditional to set up a feast day table at home with an image of Our Lady of Altagracia which can also include candles and flowers

The Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia is a very unique building- check out this picture of it. This is where the image resides and the main celebrations happen.

You can hear a traditional song for Our Lady of Altagracia as well as seeing some images from authentic Dominican celebrations of this day in this video.

 

I also found a very beautiful modern song for Our Lady of Altagracia that is an original by the lady in this video. The speaks a little bit about the song first, but the song starts at the 45 second mark. I love this song!

 

Our Lady Of Altagracia Picture Book For Kids

I absolutely love this beautiful picture book, A Gift of Gracias: A Story of Our Lady of Altagracia.  This picture book has a captivating story of Our Lady of Altagracia along with bright and colorful illustrations. This particular book tells the legend of Our Lady and the orange trees, so this book is perfect to pair with oranges for some feast day fun!

This book also has a page explaining some History at the end as well as several Spanish words that run throughout. Seriously, this is a book worth reading, and I was able to check this one out from our local library. 



Feast Day Food For Our Lady Of Altagracia 

When learning about the legend of Altagracia and the oranges, obviously a recipe including oranges would be a great fit! I thought it would be extra awesome to try out an authentic orange recipe from the Dominican Republic for this feast day, and here’s what I found. 

Carrot And Orange Juice (Jugo de Zanahoria y Naranja)-  I round this recipe over on Dominican Cooking, and it looks delicious! She says “This may sound like an unusual combination, it turns out to be a nutritious, refreshing, popular Dominican drink.”

Jugo de Zanahoria y Naranja (Carrot and Orange Juice)

She also has a recipe on Dominican Cooking Morir Soñando, which is orange juice and milk! The name of this drink translates to “to die dreaming” and I think this is also super cool because every version of the legend of Altagracia has the little girl from the story dreaming!

Morir Soñando (2 Glasses of Milk and Orange Juice)

Our Lady Of Altagracia Crafts And Ideas

Sweetness and Light celebrated this day with a

tea and a craft. You can check it out here.

Make fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast with

your kids, and then keep the peels for the projects below.

Fill the peels with fruit salad to go with your

breakfast orange juice. Or….

Use the peels as cupcake liners.

Busy With Blessings made an

Our Lady of Altagracia Lap Book.

By Sun and Candlelight had a tea, and also

made this simple yet beautiful craft.
Gladdest Hours
did an orange with cloves craft.
Take it a step further and make them into candles

with Cathie Filian.

Find 10 Outstanding Orange Desserts on Woman’s Day,

from these parfaits, to monkey bread, cupcakes and more!

More Catholic Resources For January

You can find more Saint feast days and fun ways to living the liturgical year in January here.

 

Check out my new printable liturgical calendar for Catholics! This includes all your major feast days and liturgical seasons along with holy days of obligation, solemnities, liturgical colors, well known Saint feast days, and more! This easy to use and beautiful calendar will be your best friend when planning out your liturgical year at home. There is both a free option and a paid option for downloading this liturgical calendar, so click here to find your options for downloading your own liturgical calendar

Comments

  1. We love celebrating Mary! Thanks for sharing a feast day that’s new to us. I know my kids will love this one, especially my preschooler who also adores oranges! Pinned it to pinterest too.

  2. I have never heard of Our Lady of Altagracia. Nevertheless, our public library system has the book, so we will celebrate (also St. Agnes on the same day.) I can’t wait to find out about it.

  3. Thank you for sharing authentic resources and fun ideas for how to celebrate! I have never heard of this feast before and appreciate you researching and sharing this information.

  4. Beth Stafford says

    Good Morning! I am trying to pull up the craft idea above, and it won’t come up. Is there a link you might be able to send me? (the golden doily behind the image of Our Lady of Altagracia). I would really appreciate it! I would like to use it in my Spanish classes. Thank you!

Share a Comment

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.