Monday, December 12, 2005

And the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that Guadalupe was there . . .

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Since Saturday evening, the air has been bursting with what sounds like bombs at worst and booming thunder at best, but are actually “fuegos pirot√©cnicos” – fireworks. “Bombs bursted through the air” all day Sunday, then all throughout this afternoon and into this evening too. Besides the intermittent booming, last night music and singing began around midnight with the neighborhood dogs howling along. Why all the excitement? Well, it’s December 12 – Virgin of Guadalupe Day, Mexico's most important religious holiday.
On this day, people from all over Mexico and beyond make the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe, on the Cerro of Tepeyac, outside of Mexico City, to pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Some arrive by bike and others walk. Our Lady of Guadalupe (La Virgen de Guadalupe), a Roman Catholic icon, was the title given to the Virgin Mary after appearing to Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec convert to Catholicism, at that location in 1531.
Mary told Juan to go to the bishop and ask that a church be built on the hill so she could be close to her people. The bishop, needing proof of this vision, asked Juan to have a miracle performed by Mary. The Virgin told Juan Diego to gather flowers from a hill, even though it was winter and the area was scattered with cacti. He found roses and presented these to the bishop. When the roses fell from his cloak, an icon of the Virgin remained imprinted on the cloth. The apron containing her image has been hung in the church built on that spot. From then on, Spanish missionaries used the story of her appearance to help convert millions of indigenous people in what had been the Aztec Empire. Guadalupe.