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

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 

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

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.

Advertisement

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

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

An Iranian Woman Was Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist. Can Activists Save Her?

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 2:08 PM We Need to Talk: Terrible Name, Good Show
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 3:01 PM Netizen Report: Hong Kong Protests Trigger Surveillance and Social Media Censorship
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 2:36 PM Climate Science Is Settled Enough The Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.