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is a milagro

The Milagro Story

a Milagro

Leslie Jacobson

A Milagro For

Jacket with pin


A Timeless Icon of Hope

Meaning simply “miracle” in Spanish, a milagro is a sculpted symbol of hope and determination. By tradition, these small charms are formed in the shape of a specific body part in need of healing. Usually worn to express belief in healing to come, milagros are frequently placed at shrines to request heavenly intercession. They are also worn or offered in thanks for health restored.

Milagros are a popular folk custom in the southern United States, Mexico, Central and South America. However, the roots of the milagro tradition can be traced to Spain. Frequently made of tin, nickel, brass, wood or wax, they may also be crafted of silver or gold. Even today, you may find them left at the feet of saints’ statues in churches. How far back in time their use stretches, or precisely where the tradition came from, no one can say.

Evidence of similar traditions can be found worldwide, as far back in time as humans have left traces of their existence. Among Greek Orthodox believers, for instance, tamata – metal plaques embossed with images of parts in need of healing – are also used to petition for help or offered in thanksgiving.

Similarly, from the Bronze Age to ancient Greece and Rome, from the flowering of Buddhism and Hinduism and other ancient beliefs to the modern world, icons drawn on the human form have represented potent symbols of hope.

No matter what the tradition, whether recognized as petitions for help, expressions of gratitude, or reminders of the preciousness of health, the milagro embodies the faith and courage of the wearer during important life passages.

“Anything that promotes a sense of love and intimacy, connection and community is healing. Healing is a process of becoming whole. Even the words ‘heal’ and ‘whole’ and ‘holy’ come from the same root. When we increase the love and intimacy in our lives, we also increase the health, joy, and meaning in our lives.”

Dean Ornish, MD
Founder, the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, CA
Internationally known for his work on comprehensive lifestyle changes and health


Read more about the tradition of milagros in these books:

Milagros: Votive Offerings from the Americas
by Martha Egan, Museum of New Mexico Press, 1991.

Answered Prayers: Miracles and Milagros Along the Border
by Eileen Oktavec, The University of Arizona Press, 1995.


Milagros: A Book of Miracles
by Helen Thompson, Harper Collins Publishers, 1998.

Vintage Milagros


The many faces of survivors in the beautiful Survivors’ Portrait Galley.

Art Show

Visitors viewing the art at the opening reception of one of the Reaching for the Light exhibitions.


It’s extremely powerful to read the artist’s individual story about breast cancer displayed next to each work of art.

Marilyn Freeman

"My mother was a 30 year breast cancer survivor at her death in 2004 at the age of 80. I was diagnosed with breast cancer several weeks before She died. Her courage, faith, optimism and humor were a living example of how to live each day with dignity and gratitude. This is what the Breast Milagro symbolizes for me. Ever since it was given to me in friendship, I have literally worn my Breast Milagro daily. It is so much more than a piece of jewelry. It is a part of me."

Sandra Edwards, San Francisco, CA