A regular highlight of my Advent season is our bilingual celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, whose feast day is December 12. Although more subdued and socially distant this year, we will have a bilingual celebration on Sunday, December 13, at 4:30pm Mass, in partnership with the Spanish speaking community at our sister parish, Church of the Ascension, on the near north side of Minneapolis. Ascension pastor (and former Basilica vicar) Fr. Dale Korogi will be the celebrant. You are invited to join us via livestream or in person.
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to an indigenous man, Saint Juan Diego (whose feast day is December 9), outside of Mexico City on a hill called Tepeyác in 1531. Our Lady had both indigenous Aztec and Spanish characteristics, and in his native language she told Juan Diego to ask the bishop to build a church in her honor. The bishop requested proof of her request, so Our Lady instructed Juan Diego to gather blooming roses in his tilma (cape). When he unfurled his cape before the bishop, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appeared on the cape. The Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe was constructed on the hill in her honor. A beautiful mosaic of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, made at the Vatican Museums in Rome, is installed in the southwest corner of our Basilica.
In other years, Aztec dancers, in beautiful feathered attire, would joyously dance on our front plaza and in the church. Guests wearing traditional attire would process with statues and banners of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and a festive celebration with customary foods would follow in our Teresa of Calcutta Hall.
Though more subdued this year, without dancers, processions, or delicious treats, the celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe provides us inspiration during COVID-19. By choosing Juan Diego as her messenger in 1531, she often represents empowerment for the least powerful and marginalized. She has also been a source of comfort and strength for Latinos and others almost 500 years. During our global pandemic, may her example of patience, solidarity, and grace provide us all with comfort and inspiration.