The Custody of the Holy Land celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe

The icon of the Virgin dominated the altar, while the priest celebrated the mass in Spanish. The image that could be seen at the church of St. Savior on Dec. 12 was not just any representation of Mary but what is referred to as Our Lady of Guadalupe. It seems unusual to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe in Jerusalem, yet it has now become a tradition for the Custody of the Holy Land. Because of the high number of seminarians and friars from Mexico and Latin America, this particular solemnity dedicated to the mother of Jesus has been celebrated for several years. This year, many faithful and friars gathered in church for the event once again.

The feast refers to the apparition of Our Lady that Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec who converted to Christianity, had in 1531, while coming down from the Tepeyac Hill, north of Mexico City. According to tradition, Our Lady asked him to erect a church in his honor right at the place of the apparition. Then, the bishop asked Juan Diego for a sign confirming the veracity of his story and Juan Diego received it: he picked some flowers that were out of season in an arid place place. When he showed them to the bishop, pulling them out of his cloak, the image of the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared on the mantle. For this reason, even today, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the object of devotion and study.
Juan Diego was canonized much later, in 2002, by Pope John Paul II.

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Mexico and Empress of Latin America and the Philippines, is always followed with great devotion by Christians from all over the world, especially by those for whom the Virgin is a protector. Local Arabs, volunteers and workers from all over the world also celebrated in large numbers in Jerusalem.

The mass was celebrated by Fr. Eleazar Arteaga, while a friar from Mexico, Br. Jorge Barba Barba, said the homily: «I wrote this homily thinking of those who are from other cultures and who come to celebrate this feast. Our Lady’s main message is to give birth to this child in each of our hearts. This Advent season puts us in harmony with Christmas, so that Jesus Christ may be born in our hearts».
Br. Oscar Emanuel Parra Alvarado, before his blessing, thanked the Custos who could not be present, the guardian of St. Savior’s and all those who celebrated the feast together.

A long procession then went from the Church of St. Savior to the hall of the Custodial Curia, with lit candles and the singing of the “La Guadalupana” song. Waiting in the Curia, light refreshments were prepared by the Mexican friars of the Custody. There many positive comments and joy on this feast. Mirabel, a Mexican woman who lives in Jerusalem studying to be a chef, said “I am very devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe and it is a grace for me to celebrate this feast in the Holy Land,” said Mirabel.

“I am from Guadalajara and where I am from, there there are great celebrations, songs, dances on the day of “La Guadalupana,” said Br. Manuel from Mexico. “We experience [the feast] in Jerusalem differently because we are in a context where there are many cultures. But we all experience being children of the same mother.”

Beatrice Guarrera

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