Our Lady of Guadalupe, Feast
People in Mexico and in the United States celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. Mary is the Patron Saint of Mexico and Patroness of the Americas. Every year, thousands of people from all over the country make a pilgrimage to the Basilica in Mexico City. The day commemorates her apparition to Saint Juan Diego in the hills of Tepeyac in 1531. She asked him to go to the bishop and tell him that the Ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God sent him to ask for a church to be built atop Tepeyac hill.
Today, as a sign of their devotion to Mary, many pilgrims travel to this site on their knees for many miles. They do this as a sign of their devotion to Mary and to show gratitude for favors received from her. Outside of the shrine, there are groups of mariachis, folk musicians, and ethnic dancers that have come to celebrate. Inside, various priests and bishops from all over Mexico gather to celebrate Mass. In the evening, the entrance of the basilica is filled with pilgrims from different regions of the country. Many other fiestas or popular celebrations take place in honor of La Virgen Morena, or the dark-skinned Madonna, all over Mexico. Almost every household erects an altar to the Virgin Mary for the day and the faithful demonstrate their joy by lighting fireworks throughout their cities.
Mary’s apparition in Mexico to Saint Juan Diego aided the Catholic Church’s effort to bring the Gospel to the Americas. This is why the bishops of the United States affirm: “Mary embraces God’s will and freely chooses to cooperate with God’s grace, thereby fulfilling a crucial role in God’s plan of salvation.”