Guadalajara de Buga (commonly referred to as Buga), is a small town located in the southwest section of Colombia between Santiago de Cali (aka Cali) and the Zona Cafetera (the coffee-growing region of Colombia with stunning valleys and beautiful colonial towns). As you pass by Buga, on national route 25, it looks like many other towns throughout this culturally-rich country. However, this town has an incredible story - one that draws 3 million pilgrims and visitors annually. The centerpiece of the town is the Basilica del Señor de los Milagros. In English it's known as the Basilica of Our Lord of the Miracles. It's not so much the basilica that people come to see. It's what's inside. Here's the story...............
In the 16th century, an elderly woman, a local aborigine, received Christian religious instruction from members of a local family. From her savings of many months of hard work of laundering clothes in the local river, she decided to buy a fine colonial crucifix imported from Quito to praise God in her simple wooden hut. As she traveled to the store, where she had previously seen a crucifix she liked, she came upon several policemen who were arresting a neighbor she knew. Instead of purchasing the crucifix, she used the money to get her neighbor from jail.
Some days later, while washing laundry, she saw a brilliant small object being carried in the middle of the river. She caught it and discovered it was a tiny crucifix. She was so happy with her finding. As soon as she arrived home, she made an altar using a common wooden box for the small Christ.
One night she heard some strange noises coming from the altar box. The cracking of the wood was obvious. The box had been broken by the crucifix, which was growing inside of it. It eventually grew to be two meters long and a meter and a half wide. As word spread throughout the local region, people started to gather at this place turning the poor woman's home into a sanctuary.
Fearing this would get out of hand, the local bishop decided to burn the cross to get rid of it. Instead of destroying the crucifix, an oily liquid was emitted which the local people wiped up with small pieces of cotton. There are numerous stories of miraculous cures when the cotton pieces were used to touch ill people of the region. This made the sanctuary even more famous. One of the effects of the fire was to turn the crucifix from a light olive color to a darker one.
There were several hermitages built to house the crucifix; however, they were all damaged by earthquakes. The current basilica was completed in the early 1900's. The crucifix is located in a small room in the back of the basilica.
Buga, founded in 1555, is one of the oldest cities in Colombia. This is a good town to explore on foot....................