The Latin American community in Jerusalem gathered at St. Savior Church on Saturday, December 12, to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexicos’ patron saint. Empress of America and the Philippines, she is the object of a very great devotion.
Our Lady appeared on Mount Tepeyac in Mexico to the Aztec Juan Diego, who was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. She performed her first miracle on December 12, 1531, after several appearances. She asked Juan Diego to go to the bishop for him to build her a church. Since the prelate wanted a sign, she made an image appear on the Native American’s cloak. The current Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico was inaugurated in 1976.
The Mass was celebrated in Spanish and was presided over by the Father Custos Pierbattista Pizzaballa. The choir and musicians who came together for the occasion made it even livelier. In his homily, the monastery’s Argentine vicar, Br. Marcelo Cichinelli, highlighted the role of the Virgin Mary in the evangelization of Mexico: “The apparitions of Mary to St. Juan Diego is the Mile 0 of evangelization throughout America, in much the same way that the Holy Land was the starting point for the spreading of the Good News. (…) They helped the people of the New World acquire the dignity of the Son of God, through the acceptance of faith in Jesus Christ. And so today,” he added, “Our Lady of Guadalupe can teach us, at the beginning of this Year of Mercy, to abandon the idols that influence us in our daily decisions: money, individualism, submission of others and imposition of ideas, lack of charity, defamation, etc.”
After the mass, a musical procession led the assembly to the hall of the Curia at St. Savior’s Monastery, where the Custos introduced the icon of the Métis Virgin. After the solemn blessing, everyone feasted on the the buffet of Mexican dishes prepared by religious men. “That’s the beauty of this festival,” said Br. Oscar Parra, a Mexican Franciscan seminarian with a smile. The Virgin brings us all to her Son, in one fraternal Church. Every year we celebrate together, and each year the festival is a different experience because of the people who are present or absent who bring their gifts and knowledge.” La Guadalupana is a woman of Advent. She was pregnant when she appeared to Juan Diego, in the joy of waiting for her son, “the One and True God through whom we live.” Her feast prepares the way for Christmas.