Visiting Argentina? Leave an Old Tire for the Woman With Miraculous Breasts.

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Feb. 24 2014 9:14 AM

Argentina's Shrines to Difunta Correa, the Woman With Holy Breast Milk 

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Driving through the San Juan province in western Argentina, you will pass what looks like piles of trash: drink bottles, their labels bleached by the sun, lie clustered around old tires and license plates. Get closer and you'll notice that no matter what the bottles originally contained — Coke; juice; wine — all are filled with water. And at the middle of all the junk is something striking: a woman in a long red dress, lying supine, her eyes closed as a baby suckles her exposed breast.

The woman is Difunta Correa, and the garbage piles are her shrines. According to Argentinian legend, Difunta Correa ("the deceased Correa") was a new mother during the mid-1800s, when her husband was forced to become a soldier in the country's civil wars. During the conflict, he took ill and was abandoned by his fellow fighters.

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Determined to bring her husband home, Correa strapped her newborn child to her chest and set out into the desert. After a few days of walking, Correa ran out of food and water and died of dehydration. When passers-by found her days later, her child was miraculously still alive, having spent the time drinking milk from Correa's seemingly self-replenishing breast.

This myth of post-mortem maternal devotion has given Difunta Correa saintly status in Argentina. Though not beatified by the Catholic church, Correa is the subject of roadside shrines and a full-on sanctuary at Vallecito, a town founded in her honor. Her followers visit to offer bottles of water to quench her eternal thirst, and leave license plates and tires to receive her travel-focused blessings.

Though Difunta Correa is the unofficial patron saint of travelers, devotees are quick to attribute all manner of powers to her — rows of trophies pay tribute to her divine intervention on the sports field, while clumps of miniature houses represent prayers for abundance in the home.

Shrines:


View Vallecito in a larger map

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