Wednesday, December 14, 2005

La Virgen de Guadalupe

MEXICO CITY - Wearing long feather headdresses, Aztec-style dancers spun in circles to beating drums Monday as millions of worshippers converged on Mexico's Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe to honor Latin America's patron saint.

Mexico City officials estimated more than 4 million pilgrims journeyed to the basilica in Mexico City to celebrate the appearance of the virgin before the Indian peasant Juan Diego in 1531.

Police arrested 49 Central Americans for rowdy behavior and disrupting the crowd, but the celebrations were generally peaceful.

Many of the worshippers came from remote villages, walking for days to reach the basilica and then crawling on their knees across its cement plaza to thank the virgin. Many credit the virgin with curing diseases, among other miracles.

By papal decree, the Virgin of Guadalupe is patroness of all the Americas, particularly of Latin America.

In 2002, John Paul II canonized Juan Diego as the first Indian saint of the Americas, part of efforts by the church to counter Protestant gains in the traditionally Catholic region.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical rose,
intercede for the church
protect the holy Father
help all who invoke you in their necessities
Since you are the ever Virgin Mary
and Mother of the true God
obtain for us from your most holy Son
the grace of a firm faith and a sure hope
amid the bitterness of life
as well as an ardent love
and the precious gift of final perseverance


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