Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

(Also called COPACABANA)

A village of about four hundred people, Indians chiefly, on the shore of Lake Titicaca, province of Omasuyos, in northern Bolivia. It is the location of a famous sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Carmel, and of a convent of Franciscan Recollects. During the wars of independence it was despoiled of most of its rich ornaments and gifts, and ruthless plundering by faithless custodians in the course of political disturbances has further contributed to impoverish it. The edifices, originally very handsome, are in a state of sad neglect. It is a shrine for pilgrims from Bolivia and southern Peru, and on 6 August the feast of its patron saint is frequented by thousands. Before 1534 Copacavana was an outpost of Inca occupation and perhaps the only one on Bolivian soil of any prominence. The Incas held it as the key to the very ancient shrine and oracle on the Island of Titicaca, which they had adopted as a place of worship, yielding to the veneration in which it stood among the Aymara from time almost immemorial. There were at Copacavana minor shrines, in which the ceremonial of the Incas was observed with that of the original inhabitants. When the Spaniards first visited the Islands of Titicaca and Loati, in 1534 and 1538, the primitive cults were abandoned and the Dominicans made Copacavana the centre of their missions. Secular priests then replaced them at the instigation of the Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, and finally the mission and its annexes were entrusted to the Augustinians in 1589.

In 1582 an Indian from Copacavana, struck by the sight of the statues of the Blessed Virgin which he saw in some of the churches at La Paz, tried to make one himself, and after many failures, succeeded in producing one of fair workmanship for an untrained native, and it was placed at Copacavana as the statue of the tutelar protectress of the community. Many miracles have been attributed to it, and its fame has spread far beyond the limits of its surroundings. It is kept in a special chapel, where the Indians are untiring in their devotions. The jewels with which it is adorned are perhaps the only ones in the church that have not been replaced by modern imitations. During the uprising of the Indians in 1781, while the church itself was desecrated, the "Camarin", as the chapel is called, remained untouched and exempt from spoliation. Copacavana is the scene of often repulsively boisterous Indian celebrations. On the 2d of February and 6th of August, Church festivals furnish the pretext for Indian dances that the clergy have not yet been able entirely to reform. The mixture of the old Pagan with the Christian is interesting, although a source of mortification to the Bolivian clergy, who are as yet unable to modify it. Copacavana is surrounded by pre-Columbian ruins of considerable interest.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:1-6
1 I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to lead a life worthy ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all it contains, the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:54-59
54 He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud looming up in the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 21st, 2016 Image

St. Hilarion
October 21: Abbot and disciple of St. Anthony the Great, ... Read More