Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
On the evening of December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Spanish in St. Peter's Basilica. This was preceded at 5:30 pm by the Holy Rosary, which ended with the congregation singing the hymn for the upcoming World Youth Day in Panama (January 22-27).
The celebration was accompanied by the voices of the Sistine Chapel Choir and the Choir of the Latin American Pio College. In his homily, the Pope spoke of the feast as an opportunity for prayer for peace and fraternity.
The feast of the Our Lady of Guadalupe (the patroness of the Americas and of unborn children) dates back to the 16th century. On 9 December 1531, at the Hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City, an indigenous peasant named Juan Diego saw an apparition of a pregnant young girl, who asked that a shrine be built there in her honor. Juan Diego recognized her as the Virgin Mary. Afterwards, Juan Diego recounted the story to Archbishop of Mexico City, Juan de Zumárraga, who sent him away several times in disbelief.
Juan Diego returned to the hill and encountered Our Lady again, who instructed him to climb to the top (which was normally barren in wintertime) and pick some flowers to present to the Archbishop. He picked Castilian roses which could not be found locally. He wrapped them in his tilma (cloak) and carried them to the bishop. The roses tumbled out onto the floor in front of Archbishop Zumárraga, who fell to his knees when he saw the imprinted colorful image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that had been left on the fabric. The cloak has been preserved since that date in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, exactly where she appeared to Juan Diego. It is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world, with over 20 million people visiting each year. In 1990, Pope Saint John Paul II visited Mexico and beatified Juan Diego. Then in 2000, Juan Diego was declared a Saint.
Top photograph taken in the Vatican Gardens, 9 Dec 2018. Photos below taken at Papal Mass, 12 Dec 2018. All photographs (c) Joanne Bergamin