I must confess that I am not a consistent Catholic. I do not make it to Holy Mass every week and I do struggle with many issues that concern my faith. But one thing is crystal clear in my mind and in my heart: La Virgen de Guadalupe is a constant source of peace in my life.
You can read her story and be impressed by it, but when you see the way she affects the lives of most Mexicans, you’ll realize that she is more than a Catholic icon, she is “the heart of Mexico.”
Each year in Merida at the Church of San Cristobal (the corner of Calle 50 and Calle 69) thousands of pilgrims from all over the state arrive to offer their thanks to the Virgin of Guadalupe. They bring their children and their grandmothers… Many young people run in relay groups from towns and villages to see her on her special day. This group of devotees is called antorchistas .
You can see them, carrying their lit torches from towns hundreds of miles away. When they arrive, they are exhausted but euphoric to be at the church dedicated to the Virgin de Guadalupe. It is very moving to witness the affirmation of their devotion and the basic faith that sustains them through many hardships.
In Mexico City more than 3,000,000 people visit the Basilica de Guadalupe on December 1ith and 12th. Next to the Vatican in Rome, this place receives the most annual visitors of any Catholic shrine in the world. I have seen, what must be, the population of entire towns running with their torches, walking, bicycling, and riding on anything with wheels towards the Basilica.
Our family has two marriages to give thanks for…. This year I will go at 7 pm with my daughter, my daughter-in-law, my sister, cousins, aunts and other friends from Canada, Mexico and abroad. We’ll join the many already there, and give special thanks for the joyous occasion and all our blessings.
There are detractors who are not in favor of the religious fervor that December 11th and 12th bring out all over Mexico. But I am NOT among them. I think that any belief that comforts and consoles to this degree is a very positive and good thing.
¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!
***Note: I have many images of Guadalupe… I cannot remember which are mine and which belong to someone else. If I have included yours here… I hope you are pleased to see it in this post…