- Gerardo Gonzalez
Gerardo Gonzalez was a farmer that owned large lands in the southwest region of
Puerto Rico, close to where today is the town of Hormigueros. He is considered to have been the one who founded the town of Hormigueros. Who became part of Puerto Rico's history because of the following story.
One day, Gerardo went to one part of his fields in search of reeds to make baskets. He was so busy working on looking for said object, that he didn't realize an enormous wild bull was charging towards him. He was considered to be brave but he knew that he couldn't do anything and he had left his machete in the ground while he was working. When he saw that the bull had almost reached him he shouted: "Save me, divine Lady of Monserrate!". Almost instantaneously everything was calm and the once wild bull had his head lowered towards the floor as if tamed. When he looked to the heavens there was an image of the Virgin of Monserrate with the Christ Child in her arms. The bull seemed to be bowing towards a gesture the Christ Child made with his hands.
Gerardo quickly set out to build a sanctuary for the Lady of Monserrate just where the miracle had occurred. It had not been completed when the second miracle happened. Gerardo had a daughter who was eight years old, and one day she got lost and her father looked for her for many days. Joining in the search, friends and relatives, even explorers set out to help retrieve the lost girl. Finally, after 15 days, when all hope was lost, they found her. She was safe, clean, well taken care off, and well fed. She had sheltered herself from the rain and cold by sleeping in the hollow trunk of a big tree. But this wasn't enough to explain the perfect state in which she had been found. When Gerardo asked his daughter if she had been scared she answered: "At first, but then this lady came and was with me...she brought me fruits and vegetables".
Gerardo understood this to be that once again the Lady of Monserrate had acted in his favor. He finished building the sanctuary and years later, upon the death of his wife, he became a priest. As the chaplain of the sanctuary he was able to dedicate more time to his protector, that by this she became the patron of the town of Hormigueros, which was founded in that place.
During more than 350 years the cult of the Lady of Monserrate has been kept alive in the town of Hormigueros. The
Fiestas patronales, which are festivals made to honor the saint or virgin who is the patron of the place where it is celebrated, are usually celebrated in most Latin American countries usually lasting one day or weekend to weekend. They usually start the last days of August and the first week of September. The religious spirit that surrounds the town of Hormigueros during the days that these festivals are celebrated sets an example to the rest of the towns of Puerto Rico how religious holidays should be celebrated.
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