The Santuario de las Lajas had been on my list for so long. On the border between Colombia and Ecuador lies this church with possibly the most beautiful location in the world. The site has been a pilgrimage destination since the 1700s, but the sanctuary was built between 1916 and 1949. I took a bus to Ipiales, in Colombia, and from there a shared taxi to Las Lajas.
There is a belief that the indigenous woman Maria Mueces and her deaf-mute daughter were caught in a storm and sought refuge between the rocks (las lajas) in the 1750s. Maria Mueces’ deaf-mute daughter suddenly exclaimed “Virgin Mary is calling me” and pointed at a silhouette of light on the rock. Being a place where Virgin Mary is said to have appeared, Catholics continue to visit it for prayer and with the hope of miraculous healing.