Mexicans celebrate the Feast Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, beginning one day before in the shrines of our Lady of Guadalupe or the chapels that bear her name. There are Masses, confessions, dances and readings of the story of her appearances on Mexican soil.
Here is a Q-and-A with the CFCA project in MÈrida about the feast day.
In MÈrida it is a tradition that at the shrine of Saint Christopher, pilgrims are received a month before from all corners of the state of Yucat·n, neighbor states, guilds, schools, companies and diverse institutions. There is also an open air dance all night long on Dec. 11.
I have been told that some people participate in a pilgrimage to MÈxico City to celebrate at the Basilica of Guadalupe. Can you tell me about this?
The pilgrimages are carried out by groups with torches, families and even entire towns, who arrive at the basilica, to ask or give thanks for favors from the Virgin, or as a promise from a family tradition (sickness, births, etc.).
Do any members of the CFCA community participate in these pilgrimages?
People from the CFCA community participate in these pilgrimages, walks or Masses. It is a celebration in all of MÈxico for Catholic families on this day.
CFCA scholar Jes˙s Federico displays a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The pilgrimages vary, depending on the distance from the start to the final place. It can be 1 day and up to 15 days for the long ones. All are supposed to arrive on Dec. 12 to hear Mass and receive the benediction and then return.
Those pilgrimages are done on foot, on bicycles or running on one’s knees, depending on the promise offered. The Virgin of Guadalupe reminds us the promise of the mother of God to be with us in difficult moments.
She presented herself as a mestiza, with indigenous and Spanish characteristics, to include everyone under her protection.
Any other information or commentary that you would like to add?
The Virgin of Guadalupe is the mother of all Mexican Catholics by tradition. There is a faith and fervor that exists within us for her that is inexplicable. To us, she is miraculous and if you ask her for something and you have faith, we are sure that she will honor you.
Jes˙s Federico is a 15-year-old CFCA scholar. He is in the first semester of computer science and also serves in the Church as an altar boy and catechist.
Why do you participate in this pilgrimage?
It is a way of showing my faith and gratitude to the Virgin of Guadalupe, and it motivates me in my personal life to move ahead, and it is a family and community tradition.
Since when have you been participating in this pilgrimage? What is your route and distance covered?
This is the second year that I am going to participate. We go from the community where I live with a group of 30 people: family and friends.
It is about 180 kilometers (112 miles) away and we are going in a group, in which every person runs for about 20 minutes and then is replaced, and that is how we cover all the distance.
On the way we meet a lot of people who offer food to the whole group as part of their offerings to the Virgin. They give us water in the communities we pass along the way and they treat us really well.
We are always careful because we could be prone to highway accidents.
It is an unforgettable experience and all because of our dear Virgin of Guadalupe.
During the trips we sing chants to the Virgin and everyone takes offerings and promises to be fulfilled in the future. Also, a few days before the trips we have meetings in the Church where they explain to us the significance of the pilgrimage and about the love that we should have for our Virgin of Guadalupe.