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Rhythm-A-Day Blog for January 21, 2020: Our Lady of Altagracia, Dominican Republic

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

El Día de la Altagracia

In the Dominican Republic, Jan. 21 is the day of “Our Lady of Altagracia (High Grace),” protector of the Dominican people. Her painting is in the Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia in the town of Salvaleón de Higüey. This basilica is a pilgrimage destination on this day, with thousands of attendees. Believers make offerings and ask the Blessed Virgin's protection.


The painting has numerous legends associated with it. One is that in 16th-century a traveling merchant's daughter asked for a portrait of the Virgin Mary because she dreamed of one. The merchant could not find one, until an old, long-bearded man at an inn heard the merchant lamenting his problem. The old man then unrolled the painting of Our Lady of Altagracia and gave it to the merchant. The daughter loved it but every morning awoke to find it outside, under a small orange tree. A church was built there to honor the Virgin Mary.

At any rate, the painting has been on display since 1571 and symbolizes the deep devotion and respect the people of the Dominican Republic hold for the Virgin Mary. The painting was moved to the Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia in  December of 1970.

The following rhythms were notated from a Youtube video of a processional group and demonstrate the persistence of African roots surviving in a Catholic context. The poster notes,

As hard as the Church tries to remove the African influence on Christianity, they cannot as evidenced by these devotees.

Note: The bass riffs in line 2 of the Mid Drum part are improvisational and may be left out, or varied.

Today's Video Lesson

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