The Catholic Diocese of Memphis joins Latino Catholics around the world in celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12

MEMPHIS, TN — by Amy Hall

Our diocese’s annual celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe drew hundreds of people, largely from the Latino community, to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception last Thursday for a night marked by lively music, colorful costumes and devotion to Mary.

Hundreds of people accompanied the large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a procession from Sacred Heart to the cathedral. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of the Americas; and Guadalupe, Mexico is one of the most revered religions sites in the Hemisphere. Those in procession were accompanied by the Memphis Police Department, giving all participants a special sense of civic support to this religious observance.

The Most Reverend David P. Talley, presided at the Mass and as the parishioners arrived at our cathedral, Bishop Talley venerated the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe before it was brought into the cathedral and placed where it was festooned with bright flowers on the side of the sanctuary.

“It was a moving example of the faithful in our community, from all different lands.  And looking up at the cathedral as we ended the procession and looking up the stairs to see all of our priests standing there waiting for us with the light behind them brought tears to my eyes” says Sharon Kowalke.  This was Sharon’s first year to experience the celebration.

The feast day commemorates a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in 1531 in the Mexican village of Guadalupe. Through Our Lady of Guadalupe, there was a huge evangelization of the Indians. The people saw themselves reflected on her, on Our Lady of Guadalupe. The picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe had so much meaning for the native Mexicans, the Mayans, and the Aztecs.

Catholics do not worship Mary, but see her as the first among the saints whom they see as intercessors to God. While supernatural appearances of Mary have been widely reported throughout history, the Vatican has authenticated only a few of these accounts. These include Our Lady of Guadalupe, the title under which she appeared to Juan Diego in 1531.

Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared with imagery and a language that was familiar to Juan Diego, an indigenous convert to Christianity. When he took her message to his bishop – she asked for a church to be built on the hill where she appeared – a reluctant bishop asked him to return with a sign. In a second appearance, the vision provided that sign by way of wintertime roses that Juan Diego collected in his tilma, or cloak. He let the roses tumble out of the tilma in front of the bishop, and they were amazed to find an image there of the woman as she appeared to Juan Diego.

Silvia Vega of St. Michael’s parish, said the feast day is significant for her because Our Lady of Guadalupe symbolizes the unity of all Catholics.

“Here we are only one family. This celebration is about celebrating our diversity that makes us stronger and a reminder that when we come together, great things can happen,” Vega said. “Once you walk through those doors — it doesn’t matter where you are coming from. We are all one family. This is not only for some people. This is for everyone.”

The Mass was followed by a celebration in Marian Hall, with food, singing and traditional Mexican dances.  Some photos of the beautiful dancers are below.

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