St. Charles Borromeo Church in Carthage during their previous Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Today Hispanic Catholics across the Tri-State region will wake up early to celebrate Las mañanitas a la Virgen de Guadalupe, or the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s a huge
celebration, commemorating the visitation of the Blessed Mother four times in 1531 near Mexico City, to a peasant, Juan Diego, by giving him a tilma or a cloth with her imprinted image. A church, the Basilica Our Lady of Guadalupe, was built in Mexico City, to house the artifact, and since its devotion and the discussion of if it was made by human hands, has added to its mystique.
When I was a kid, my parents went to Mexico City on a business trip for my father’s company and visited the Basilica with the Guadalupe tilma. They brought back rosaries and other souvenirs of the artifact. I also remember the tangy tomatoey spiced fritos they brought back too, and for whatever reason have always associated that flavor with our Lady of Guadalupe’s image.
The iconic image of Mary from Juan Diego’s tilma, surrounded by rays of light, appears in tattoos, on cars, clothes, and buildings and is a spiritual symbol of Mexico.
Members of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Hispanic Center in Carthage have been celebrating this cultural and religious feast of Our Ladey of Guadalupe for many years. They start early, with a mass at 5 AM, that includes Spanish songs in honor of the Blessed Virgin. They dress their little ones up as Juan Diego. After an hour of singing the community shares traditional Mexican baked goods and gallons of hot chocolate. After the mass is a performance of traditional Aztec dancing and then a feast of traditional Mexican food, including tamales, chicken mole, and other delicacies.
The appearance of our Lady of Guadalupe was responsible for converting
the pagan Aztec Indians and uniting them with the Christian Hispanics of Mexico together. So for Mexico, Our Lady is a powerful image of cultural solidarity.
So, if you want some of the best Mexican hot chocolate or tamales today, find a celebration of our Lady of Guadalupe.
A young Juan Diego carries his snail pastry at St. Charles Borromeo’s Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration.