December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most important feasts for the Church in Latin-America. This feast day was always a big one in my life, as my parish in Panama was named Our Lady of Guadalupe. I
Perhaps this story is new to you: In 1531, a “Lady from Heaven” appeared to a peasant by the name of Juan Diego just outside of Mexico City. She said to him, “Know for certain that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God,” and instructed him to have the bishop build a temple on the site. Juan Diego was not too sure about this and so, as proof of her apparition, Mary left an image of herself imprinted miraculously on his tilma, or cloak.
This poor quality cactus-cloth should not have lasted 20 years. But today, almost 500 years later, it still shows no sign of decay and defies all scientific explanations of its origin. This single event was the defining one for Catholicism in Mexico and in Latin America; in less than 20 years, some 9 million Mexicans converted to Christianity.
Guadalupe is also the most popular Marian shrine in the world, with an estimated 10 million pilgrims visiting the Basilica each year, and it is also the most visited Catholic church in the world next to St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
This is why all are welcome to the lower chapel at St. Joseph's Oratory, tomorrow, Sunday, December 11 at 3pm ET, for a special Mass in Spanish in honour of our Lady of Guadalupe. If you are not in the Montreal area, or are not able to attend, you'll be able to watch the Mass live on S+L TV.
Let's celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Americas and celebrate the Church of Latin America. Viva la Guadalupana!