The Virgin of Guadalupe is the patroness of Mexico, and the feast we celebrate today, on December 12th, is the most important date all year for our Catholic religious calendar here in this country.
The "pilgrim mover" or passenger conveyor belt
takes the visitors behind the altar for a short
20 second glimpse at the Juan Diego's miraculous
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most visited shrine in the Catholic world, with an estimated 20 million pilgrims every year, even more than Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, with an estimated 18 million pilgrims yearly.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is a national symbol in Mexico, giving a sense of identity, since her appearance to the native Mexican Juan Diego, in 1531.
The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an impressive complex. However, what many of us who visit the Basilica find enchanting and unforgettable, is the faith the humble Mexican pilgrims display as they come visit the Tepeyac Church and grounds.
View of the main altar of the Basilica during
the celebration of Mass.
Since late yesterday afternoon, we have been hearing firecrackers and all sorts of fireworks here in Mexico City, honoring the "Morenita" (or "little dark skin girl") as the Mexicans tenderly refer to their patroness.
The Mexican native peoples maintain a deeply religious culture, on every social and economical level of society. What is the Virgin of Guadalupe for them? Although I am very devoted to the Blessed Virgin, I honestly cannot presume that I can fathom what Mexicans feel for their "Virgencita", their dear little Virgin. When I drive down the rough dark roads of Mexico, sometimes even when it starts drizzling as the last beams of light give way to night, I see the hoards of pilgrims, riding their bicycles, like bees, following the queen bee. It's absolutely beautiful. It is when I understood the saying: "Non fecit talitur." (She has never did anything like this anywhere, as she did here). The relationship between the good and humble people in Mexico and the Virgin Mary is something I believe I will never grasp in this life. All I can do is feel admiration.
Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica of Guadalupe several times during his visits to Mexico, and he was dearly loved by Mexicans, who still pray, asking for his intercession to God the Father and to the Virgin of Guadalupe for "la paz de Mexico" ("peace in Mexico").
Estela takes a rest from our walk up the hill of
Tepeyac, the hill where the Virgin appeared to
The "new Basilica" was built in a shape similar
to a Mexican Sombrero.
Side view of the set of bronze statues
representing the natives of Mexico
seeking the help of their "Virgen".
Here is the front view of the same
set of bronze sculptures.
A whole family from Monterrey, friends of
us, on their pilgrimage to the Basilica
Estela, my wife, is deeply
devoted to La Virgen de Guadalupe
The gardens of the sanctuary of the Basilica