Difunta Correa

January 22nd, 2009 Posted in culture

Written by Shanie

If you have traveled around Argentina at all, you most likely encountered tiny houses constructed on the sides of the roads that are surrounded by, sometimes, hundreds of plastic bottles. So, what is the story? Here’s the answer…

It was a sad and desperate time in Argentina. The civil war of the 1840s and poverty were creating desperation.

The Correa family was like others around them – broken apart because of a gruesome clash of powers-that-be. Deolinda Correa’s husband had been forced into the civil war. While in the field he was overcome with a sickness that ravaged his body. He was left in the deserts of northern Argentina for dead. Word made it back to worried-sick Deolinda, now a new mother. In her misery she decided to take the child and attempt to find her lost love.

She wandered the desert following her husband’s brigade, only to run out of food and water and perish in the hot blazing sun. A few days after her parting a small band of gauchos came upon her body with her baby still clutched to her nipple. The child’s miracle, that his dead mother was able to sustain his life, has lead to a cult like following throughout Chile and Argentina.

The degree of devoutness to Difunta Correa varies. It ranges from small wood boxes with a couple of candles and a few plastic bottles of water to intricate, miniature houses (sometimes with red or white accents) that are surrounded by thousands of plastic bottles filled with water. The plastic jug is the one common factor with all of the altars that are built in her honor.

Truck drivers are especially devout. But they are not the only believers.

A small village was built in response to the overwhelming amount of visitors to her sanctuary in Vallecito, San Juan Province of Argentina. Vallecito, which began as one shrine, has now grown to at least seven different chapels. Each one has its own theme; the marriage prayer room is decorated with wedding dresses from happy brides, the healing chapel is covered with small pictures of loved ones needing health miracles. Believers travel from far and wide. The crowds can be huge, sometimes gathering to more than 200,000 strong. The amount of visitors is especially high during Easter and The Day of the Souls (November 2nd).

  1. 20 Responses to “Difunta Correa”

  2. By Tanoka on Jan 23, 2009

    Just a little photo of la difunta correa I shot some weeks ago http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanoka/3186500616/sizes/l/in/set-72157612412694224/

  3. By Patagonia on Jan 23, 2009

    Great shot Tanoka! Thanks for sharing.


  4. By Thomas Locke Hobbs on Jan 23, 2009

    The shrine to Difunta Correa in Vallecitos, San Juan is really an amazing place. I visited the site in November and posted some of the pictures on my blog:


  5. By Patagonia on Jan 23, 2009

    Great pics as well Thomas! Appreciate the input. Have a great weekend.


  6. By changcho on Jan 23, 2009

    I remember running across these roadside shrines while doing roadtrips with my parents as a kid in the 70’s/early 80’s. But as I understand it, it is called simply ‘Difunta Correa’, or ‘La Difunta Correa’; no need for ‘San’ (in any case, it’d be ‘Santa’ instead of ‘San’, but I don’t think you need either?)

  7. By Patagonia on Jan 24, 2009

    Thanks for the correction Changcho…I believe you are correct. You are one smart guy! (:


  8. By Evandro Colares on Jan 27, 2009

    Hello, Shanie!

    I am a brazilian guy that loves Patagonia. So, as portuguese language native, I ask to apologize my mistakes in english. Today I was surfing in internet, looking for blogs about Patagonia, and I have found yours. I have read your post about Difunta Correa and, I wanna ask you if you know “Gauchito Gil”. Gauchito Gil is another popular saint in Argentina. I have written a post about him in my blog, unfortunately, in portuguese, and, as I know, his predominant color is red (the little houses), and for “Difunta Correa” the houses are white. It’s just a question of curiosity, because I love this cultural subject. You have a very nice blog!!! Thank you.

  9. By changcho on Jan 27, 2009

    Thanks, though I’m not that smart…but I was just born and raised in Argentina!


    Evandro – I never saw a shrine of Gauchito Gil, I think he’s more of a northern Argentina character, and I’ve been around Buenos Aires & Patagonia, not so much the north. Here’s some info about Gauchito Gil from Wikipedia (sorry, it’s in Spanish, not Portuguese – but you can start a Wikipedia article about him in Portuguese!)


    You can also access the English version of the article from the menu at left in the Spanish article.

  10. By Evandro Colares on Jan 28, 2009

    Hello, Changcho! Thank you for your information, it’s written in the article you have suggested for reading, and that’s my point, all the red memorials are offerings to Gauchito Gil – “Se pueden distinguir los santuarios del Gauchito Gil a la vera de los caminos de toda la Argentina, caracterizados por poseer multitud de banderas rojas.” But, it doesn’t matter too much and I don’t wanna be boring about this! Thank you very much indeed!

  11. By Patagonia on Jan 28, 2009

    Thanks Changcho for the info. Evandro, even though there are red aspects to Gauchito Gil, there is also that aspect to Correa. So it seems they both like the color red.


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