november 2. difunta correa, whose breast was ever-full
Patroness of Cattle herders, ranchers, truck drivers, gauchos, thirsty travellers, and those whose lives depend on scarcely available water
Deolinda Correa’s husband, despite being ill with pneumonia or another ailment, was recruited by force during the Argentine civil wars. He remained unwell and was abandoned by his army; by other accounts, he was taken as prisoner by an opposing group and held in chains. Unable to bear the thought of her husband suffering without her care, Deolinda attempted to reach him. She took their infant child and followed the soldiers’ tracks through the desert, but soon the tracks ended and Deolinda became lost. Her supplies dwindled, and as she lay dying, she latched her son to her breast to drink. Deolinda eventually died of thirst and exposure beneath the merciless sun. Local villagers saw birds of prey circling the hilltop, and four days later, gauchos found her still corpse under a carob tree while driving cattle through the region. They were shocked to find the living infant was still suckling. By a miracle, Deolinda’s breast was ever-full, and the baby was able to feed even after his mother had expired. One chronicler calls her a symbol of “post-mortem maternal devotion.” Devotees have christened her Difunta Correa, which translates as “deceased Correa.”
MIRACLE OF THE COWS
Fifty years after her death, a gaucho led 500 cattle. A storm erupted, and his upset cows stampeded in many directions. The gaucho feared for his good name. He’d heard rumor of the cross crowning Deolinda’s shrine, and so he journeyed there to pray for the safe return of his cows. He swore that if the cattle were recovered, he would build a chapel in Deolinda’s honor. Soon after, he found his cows atop a nearby hill; every creature was unharmed and accounted for. He returned to her shrine and built the chapel as promised.
A HARD BARGAIN
As a result of this miracle, pilgrims today offer Deolinda a gift in exchange for her protection. Deolinda’s reputation among pilgrims is both that she expects her devotees to “pay up” and that she makes good on her end of the bargain. If she intercedes and devotees do not hold up their agreement, she punishes them from beyond the grave.
In addition to countless shrines and effigies in her honor, devotees leave bottles of water for Deolinda along the roadways, to calm her eternal thirst.