United States

United States celebrates the Virgin of Guadalupe

From New York to Los Angeles, from Chicago to Miami, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered on December 12 in the churches of different dioceses of the country to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Gonzalo Meza-December 15, 2023-Reading time: 4 minutes

Picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe on display at the Cathedral of Los Angeles (OSV News photo / courtesy Archdiocese of Los Angeles)

In 2023, the 492nd anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City will be commemorated. She was declared "Patroness of the Americas" by Pope Pius XII in 1946, a title confirmed by John Paul II in 1999. She is the principal patroness of many dioceses, including Los Angeles. As the United States is the country with the second largest number of Mexicans, Guadalupe celebrations are carried out with the same fervor and warmth that Mexicans give to this tradition.

From New York to Los Angeles, from Chicago to Miami, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered on December 12 in the churches of different dioceses of the country to celebrate the "Morenita del Tepeyac". The celebrations included typical regional dances, songs, live representations of the Guadalupana apparitions, as well as the "mañanitas" (traditional Mexican birthday song), the rosary and Holy Mass. At the end of the ceremonies the parishioners shared some typical Mexican dishes such as tamales (corn flour dough wrapped in steamed corn husks), atole (corn flour drink) and "pan de dulce" (Mexican pastries).

In the United States there are two Guadeloupean sites that have a unique characteristic in the country: the Los Angeles Cathedral where the only fragment of the tilma of Tepeyac is preserved, and the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Des Plaines, Illinois, near Chicago, where parishioners can "pay their mandas" as if they were in Mexico City.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

At the cathedral in Los Angeles, California, the 2023 Guadalupe celebration began on December 11 at 6:00 p.m. with traditional dancers and the Ballet Folklorico in the cathedral plaza. At 10:00 p.m. the Rosary was prayed inside the Cathedral followed by a musical tribute with mariachis and guest singers. Before the beginning of the Mass, the "mañanitas" were sung to the Virgin. The Mass was presided by Archbishop José H. Gómez.

During his homily, the prelate noted: "Tonight when we are under the compassionate gaze of our Mother and we look into her eyes, let us reflect on this wonderful truth: Jesus Christ loves us so much that he came to share our hopes and our dreams and to offer his life for us. Let us go with confidence to Our Lady of Guadalupe tonight and tell her once again that we are here to serve, that we want to offer our lives as an offering of love to her and to Jesus."

The Cathedral of Los Angeles is the only place in the world outside of the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico that possesses a tiny fragment of the Guadalupana tilma. This relic was a gift made by the then Archbishop of Mexico City in gratitude and as a sign of friendship to Archbishop John J. Cantwell of Los Angeles, who led a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe in the early 1940's. It is kept in a side chapel and is on display for the veneration of the faithful. The tilma has been scientifically analyzed and it is considered a miracle that it has survived five centuries despite being made of natural agave fibers that under normal conditions decompose easily with the passage of time. 

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Des Plaines

Since its founding in 2013, the Guadalupe Shrine in the city of Des Plaines has attracted thousands of pilgrims each December who come from all over the United States to pay homage to the Virgin Mary. The 2023 Guadalupe celebrations began on December 11 with the "mañanitas" to the Virgin before midnight, followed by the solemn Mass.

Throughout the day we prayed the Holy Rosary alternating with the Holy Mass. In the afternoon, the representation of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary took place. Virgin. Thousands of people attended the various ceremonies. They came from different parts of the country by bus, car, bicycle or on foot. The pilgrims brought their worries and problems to the feet of the Virgin. Others came to "pay their mandas", that is to say the promises they made to the Virgin for some favor received.

Many parishioners made the promise to go to Mexico to thank the Virgin in person, but then realized that they could not fulfill it due to lack of documents, money or time. Faced with this reality, since its inauguration in 2013 the then Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Rivera Carrera granted the Archbishop of Chicago a special concession so that the faithful could "pay" at the Guadalupe Shrine in Des Plaines "mandas or promises" promised to the Virgin without having to travel to Mexico City. This concession was reiterated on June 10, 2023 during a visit to the shrine by Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, Archbishop of Mexico.

During his homily at the Mass concelebrated with Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, he said: "Jesus accompanies us, not only in walking with us, but he helps us to take on the challenges that arise in our lives. He helps us to solve problems and conflict situations and to know how to enjoy the encounter with others as an encounter of brothers, as we are doing here, as I represent Mexico, and my brother Cardinal Blase Cupich, this great archdiocese that has received so many of us here, in this country, always under the care of Mary of Guadalupe".

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