We then attended Mass, which according to our tour guide, Raul, occurs every hour on the hour, from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. As Fr. John joined the priests on the altar, which was massive in size, we sat amidst an expansive crowd of people. The Mass was wonderful and the music included voices of children, which made it all the more beautiful. We even recognized (and sang) the Spanish song we practiced previously, Alabaré (Praise God.) Not to mention the organ…
Raul mentioned that during last years December 12th celebration at the Basilica, Day of the Virgin, 7 million people came to the shrine. Devotees of Our Lady are referred to as Guadalupanas.
The old Basilica isn’t completely accessible given the surrounding construction, but we were able to see a bit of the interior, which was once home to the image of Our Lady (now in the new Basilica.) It was magnificent with a massive chandelier, gold leaf paintings on the ceiling, etc. The statues and paintings displayed around the grounds and in the chapels are beautiful and moving. Truly, it’s impossible not to be moved here.
Our experience at the Basilica included praying a Novena, which we started the first day of our pilgrimage, to St. Juan Diego in the Chapel of Indians as well as climbing to the top of the Tepeyac Hill, praying the rosary with Fr. John along the way.
The afternoon concluded with a trip to the Plaza of the Three Cultures in Tlateloco. Unfortunately, and much to Raul’s surprise, the door to the Franciscan church was locked. We hope try again another day. Despite this hiccup in our plan, he shared with us a multitude of details about the cultures. The first, referred to as the pre-Hispanic history (3500 years worth of history,) the second, which is the colonial culture from 1521 to 1821 and the third, today’s modern living, which consists of housing projects that surround the plaza.
To conclude my entry, I thought I’d include a caption from today’s Novena as it pertains to St. Juan Diego’s commitment and obedience to Our Lady’s request of him.
Hasta Luego! (contributed by Dana Tierney, pilgrim)
“He never complained about doing what the most holy Virgin asked him to do, he just did it. What about us? Do we follow the road that Jesus shows us? Or do we excuse ourselves because of worldly preoccupations or because we worry about what people will say? Saint Juan Diego, help us to imitate your obedience to the most holy Mother of God as she says to us, ‘Do whatever Jesus tells you.’”
Pilgrims standing at the bottom of Tepeyac hill. This is the hill that Juan Diego climbed to find the roses.(above) A group of pilgrims praying the rosary on the way to the top of the hill and lastly, Dennis and Fr. Kerns at the top of the hill.