Las Lajas Sanctuary (in Spanish Santuario de Las Lajas) is a basilica church located in the southern Colombian Department of Nariño, municipality of Ipiales and built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River.
The church is of Gothic revival architecture and was built from January 1, 1916 to August 20, 1949, with donations from local churchgoers, replacing an old nineteenth-century chapel. The name Laja comes from the name of a type of flat sedimentary rock similar to floor tiles found in the Andes Mountains. There was a claim that an apparition of the Virgin Mary was seen. There is now a miraculous image on a stone there. It is still possible to see this today.
The reason for the church’s creation is that in 1754 an Amerindian named Maria Mueces and her deaf-mute daughter Rosa were caught in a very strong storm. They found refuge between the gigantic Lajas, and to Maria Mueces’s surprise, Rosa exclaimed “the mestiza is calling me…” and pointed to the lightning-illuminated ‘painting’ over the laja. The oldest account was recorded in the accounts of Fray Juan de Santa Gertrudis’s voyage through the southern region of the New Kingdom of Granada between 1756 and 1762.
In 1951 the Roman Catholic Church authorized the Nuestra Señora de Las Lajas virgin, and it declared the sanctuary a minor basilica in 1954.