Some local Catholics will begin nine days of prayer today in anticipation of the Dec. 12 anniversary of an alleged miracle in what is now Mexico City.
The Guadalupana Society of Madera has organized the daily praying of a rosary followed by a Mass from this evening through Dec. 11 at St. Joachim Church, 401 West 5th St. The final day, Dec. 12, will feature a pre-dawn procession from Millview Elementary School, 1609 Clinton Ave., to the church, followed by singing of “Las Mananitas,” a Mass and a free hot breakfast at Holy Spouse Hall.
“We’re trying to promote the (Mexican) tradition and honor to our God, Jesus, and his mother,” said society secretary Gloria Medina.
In December 1531, 57-year-old Chichimeca farmer and weaver, Juan Diego, told Mexico City’s archbishop, Juan de Zumarraga, he’d seen and spoken with Mary, the mother of Jesus. But the bishop was skeptical, so Diego filled his tilma (a poncho or cloak) with unseasonal blooms of roses and brought them to him as proof on Dec. 12. When he released the roses, an image of the woman he’d seen, pregnant and dressed in royal Aztec attire, could be seen on his tilma.
The allegedly miraculous image of Mary and the lifelong testimony of Diego to those who visited it helped spread Christianity among Mexican natives, who honor her under the title “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
“It’s our job to evangelize because she did,” Medina said. “We just continue that evangelization into the next centuries. That’s what our mission is. She brings people to Christ. In fact, she’s pregnant with Christ in the image. She’s full of grace.”
The rosary today and next Saturday will be at 6 p.m. The prayers on other days will begin at 6:30 p.m. The procession on Dec.12 will begin at 3:15 a.m. with song at 5:15 a.m. and Mass at 6 a.m.
Medina said the procession is “something that King David would do with the Ark of the Covenant. He would dance and have a procession in honor of God. It’s traditional. He carried the ark of the Covenant, which was carrying God’s commandments. Mary is the Ark of the Covenant too because she carried Jesus.”
Fittingly then, the breakfast festivities after the procession will feature traditional dancing as well.
“All the different (Mexican) tribes have different types of dances that they use to honor God … Their dance is a prayer,” Medina said. “They honor God by dancing to him, and they honor her too as the mother of God ... They became evangelized when she appeared.”
For information, call 647-5200.