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Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pronounced in Nahuatl (the native language of pre-Hispanic Mexico city) “Tonantzin Guadalupe,” is the most famous sacred image of the Virgin Mary in the Americas. Under this title, she is officially called “Patroness of the Americas,” and “Protectress of Unborn children.”
Tradition says that she appeared on December 9, 1531, to Juan Diego, a recently converted Aztec native, on a hill in the Tepeyac desert, near Mexico City. The lady asked Juan Diego to tell the Bishop to build a church in her honor, right where they were standing. The local Bishop Juan de Zumarraga asked for proof that she was indeed the Virgin Mary.
So Juan Diego went back to see the lady again, telling her that the bishop wanted proof. She told Juan Diego to go to a nearby mountaintop, and pick Castillian roses, which were native to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga’s hometown in Spain, and did not bloom during winter. Juan Diego cut the roses, placed them in his cloak, and brought them to the bishop, who ordered that the Church be built. The present day image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pregnant with baby Jesus, appeared on cloak of Juan Diego. Today it is still displayed in the Basilica of Guadalupe, one of the most visited Catholic shrines in the world.
The Virgin of Guadalupe’s festival is one of the most popular in North and Central America. Attached are unobtrusive jpg photos taken this morning, 4 – 5 AM, at the Immaculate Conception parish of downtown Los Angeles. A Mariaci band introduced the traditional Azteca dancers, who then entered the church, to the beating of drums, and performed a most moving and devout sacred dance in Our Lady of Guadalupe’s honor. The photos are blurred, due to my desire to remain unobtrusive. The effect on the congregation, who filled the Church to “standing room only,” was electrifying. After Mass and communion, on a Monday morning in LA, the majority of the parishioners left in time for early morning work.
Mothers, fathers, children, entire families, brought flowers to place in front of the shrine.
It was deeply moving.

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