Where: Throughout Mexico, centred in a Mexico City Church
When: 12th December
What Happens: Pilgrimage to the Basilica to honour the memory of Mexico’s own Virgin Mary – uniting indigenous and Catholic beliefs
Our Lady of Guadelupe is the most revered icon in the Mexican Catholic Religion. She is Mexico’s version of the Virgin Mary and the countries patron saint.
According to national legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to a Juan Diego (a Mexican Indian) in 1531 on the Cerro de Tepeyac in the north of Mexico City. She appeared three times in the guise of an Indian princess and commanded a church to be built in the area, where the Basilica de Guadelupe now stands. More miraculously she imprinted her image into Juan Diego’s cloak, and this cloak now is preserved and set in gold.
You can view this cloth in the new basilica, which was built in response to earthquakes in the area that cracked the original basilica. Viewing occurs on a motorized platform that moves you past the Lady of Guadelupe. Whilst this may be an efficient way to allow the entire crowd to view her image, but can seem to be a little cynical in the face of a religious wonder.
From early December onwards Mexicans celebrate the day of Our Lady of Guadelupe. The pilgrimage to the Basilica de Guadelupe culminates on their national holiday in her honour on December 12th. This pilgrimage is a mammoth affair with about 5 million Mexicans making the journey to the Basilica that holds round the clock services to cater to the throngs of pilgrims.
The Roman Church is a uniting force in Mexico, and this festival is no exception. The Virgin de Guadelupe is depicted as an Indian “dark Madonna”, and this has helped the integration of indigenous people and their religion into the Roman Catholic Church. The resulting Catholicism exists in a more multifaceted form which attempts to be meaningful for the whole Mexican population, whether white, indigenous or mestizo.
The Basilica of Guadalupe
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The Virgin of Guadalupe
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