Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

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The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

This colonial-era church, in El Viejo was built in the 17th century. The church was elevated to the status of national religious sanctuary on October 8, 1995, and was declared a minor basilica on February 7, 2006 by Pope John Paul II, during his second visit to Nicaragua.

The basilica possesses a baptismal font dating from 1560, and also possesses a little statue of the Virgin Mary. Tradition states that Fray Pedro de Zepeda y Ahumada, brother of Teresa of Avila, traveling to El Realejo with the image, was forced to go to El Viejo due to a storm. The people of El Viejo were so taken by it that they wished for the image to stay in their town. However, Zepeda y Ahumada set off once more for El Realejo, but a second storm forced him back to El Viejo. Thus, he decided that this was a sign of divine intervention and left the image in El Viejo.

On December 6 of every year, the silver that is part of the little statue is washed before congregants in a ceremony called the Cleaning of the Silverware (Lavada de la Plata).