Catholics from different cities and different nationalities participated last Saturday in the 82nd annual procession and Mass in honor of “Our Lady of Guadalupe.” Devotees made the mile-long walk that traveled from Cesar Chavez Avenue to East Los Angeles College (ELAC) stadium in Monterey Park where the procession culminated with a Mass in honor of the “Pilgrim Virgin,” as the religious icon is also known.
“More than 30,000 people attended the procession,” Doris Benavides, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, told EGP. “There were people from Los Angeles, surrounding areas and Mexico.”
This theme for this year’s procession and mass was “Madre mia, evangeliza tu pueblo.” (Dear Mother, evangelize your people). According to the Archdiocese’s website, this “is a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede for us in the new evangelization.”
Members from different parish chapters of Guadalupanos Unidos, Aztecs and Matachines dancers of all ages followed behind colorfully decorated floats — which carried images of the Virgin of Guadalupe or people simulating the apparition of the “La Morenita del Tepeyac” to the indigenous peasant Juan Diego — as they made the journey to the college.
Throughout the event, the thousands of participants prayed to the Virgin of Guadalupe for passage of comprehensive immigration reform. During the procession, groups of people carried signs and chanted songs asking for an end to the deportation practices that are separating families due to the immigration status of one or more of its members.
At ELAC, parishioners waited anxiously to see and pay homage to the “Pilgrim Virgin.” As the religious icons approached, Juan Diego first, followed by the Virgin of Guadalupe, 40 doves were released in the air, Benavides said.
The program also included a special performance by The Latino Theater Company of their theater production “La Virgin de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin,” which was followed by mariachi music.
Archbishop José H. Gomez, accompanied by 40 priests, presided over the Mass at the stadium. The Archbishop told congregants that he was filled with “joy” to see people of all ages participating in the pilgrimage.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe is our Mother and she accompanies us and guides us in our homes and in society,” said Archbishop Gomez. “So the procession is a beautiful way for us to show our love for her and for Jesus.”
Prior to the Mass, floats from three local churches were presented with awards for their outstanding presentations: First place was awarded to St. Marcelinus Church in Commerce; Second place to St. Columbkille in Los Angeles and the Third place award went to St. Elizabeth, also in Los Angeles. Each of the winners received certificates and a monetary award. “All the money will be used for tech improvements in the winning parishes,” said Benavides.
This procession concludes the month-long pilgrimage of the “Pilgrim Virgin,” a digital reproduction of the original miraculous image which has visited six different cities and a women’s prison.
According to Catholics, in 1531 the “Virgin of Guadalupe” appeared to Juan Diego on a hill outside Tepeyac in Mexico City, and commanded him to erect a church there in her honor. It is said her image miraculously appeared on his cloak or tilma, which remains intact to this day. The apparition and the Virgin de Guadalupe is celebrated on Dec. 12.
“For 482 years, her image has been a symbol of unity, peace, compassion and hope for people around the world,” according to a statement from the archdioceses. Thousands of devotees today pray to the Virgin to ask for help or to thank her for interceding on their behalf.