December 2, 2005

San Diego pays tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

Like every year, the Catholic community of San Diego pays tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe in an event that’s become a tradition in the county.

This year, The Guadalupana Confederation of San Diego will hold their annual Empress of the America’s parade paying tribute to the Virgin of Guadalupe on Sunday, December 4. The procession will begin at 1 p.m. in Chicano Park and will end at the Convention Center.

“The purpose of the procession is to unite people and to promote love and devotion for Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Gilbert Chávez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego. “We know that all of us go through difficult times and that we all have great challenges as part of life, but with the love of Our Lady of Guadalupe we can overcome any challenge.”

This year’s special guest will be Mexicali’s Bishop José Isidro Guerrero Macias.

The electrifying parade is expected to attract hundreds of San Diego Catholic believers who will line the streets to pay tribute to the official patron saint of Mexico. Guadalupanas from San Diego Catholic churches have organized groups from their respected church diocese and par-ochial’s to participate in the parade extravaganza, which marks one of the most spectacular Mexican holidays of the year. The jubilant spirits of school bands, mariachis, and queens riding in allegoric cars will start the parade at Chicano Park passing through Cesar Chavez Parkway to end at the Convention Center, where there will be a Mass at 2 p.m.

At 6 p.m., a banquet will be held to honor the 25 parishes that are part of the Guadalupana Confederation. Also, 15 scholarships will be awarded to outstanding Hispanic students.

“The Guadalupana Confederation meets every two months to plan events that promote devotion for Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Bishop Chavez.

Faith for La Guadalupana

On December 12, 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, an indigenous peasant, at Mount Tepeyac, near Mexico City. At that time, Mexico was under Spanish rule. The Church and priests tried to convert the Indians into Catholicism. After the Conquest, Indian temples were destroyed, ceremonies forbidden and those who still believed in the Mexican gods were punished.

That punishment many times meant death for those so-called “pagan Indians.”

Whether because they really believed in the new religion or because they didn’t want to be punished, many Mexicans embraced Catholicism and tried to forget the old traditions. Juan Diego became Catholic after the Conquest.

The story of the miracle considered basic in Mexican Catholicism stated that one day Juan Diego’s uncle became really sick. Juan Diego prayed to God and the Virgin Mary asking for his uncle’s health. That same day while walking by Mount Tepeyac, Juan Diego heard the Virgin’s voice. La Guadalupana asked that a temple in her honor be erected at the mount, ever since, Our Lady of Guadalupe has become the Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas.

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