Thousands unite in Mexico in celebration of the virgin of Guadalupe on the 1531 apparition anniversary

Thousands of people sang “Las maanitas,” a traditional Mexican birthday hymn, at Mexico City’s Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the 492nd anniversary of her apparition in 1531.

Authorities projected that over five million devout visited the Basilica in the days leading up to the country’s patroness’ yearly festival.

Many pilgrims had walked from remote towns, while others had taken bicycles or buses to the Basilica’s massive patio, where a sea of tents gathered pilgrims who had spent overnight to greet the virgin in the morning.

There were perils and risks along the way. Prosecutors in Mexico City reported Tuesday that three pilgrims on motorcycles were driven over and killed on a highway traveling east from Mexico City to the city of Puebla.

Thousands unite in Mexico in celebration of the virgin of Guadalupe on the 1531 apparition anniversary

A pickup truck collided with the group late Monday, injuring ten people. The driver was apprehended on the spot. Such groups of pilgrims walking or biking to or from the Basilica are a regular sight on highways in December, occupying a lane or two.

The harsh weather, hard hikes, and anticipation of seeing the virgin’s cloak inside the Basilica did not deter the pilgrims, many of whom traveled the final mile or so carrying flowers or big paintings of the virgin.

According to church legend, the dark-skinned virgin appeared to the Indigenous farmer Juan Diego in 1531, and her picture was imprinted on his cloak, which is now on exhibit inside the church. Saint John Paul II canonized Juan Diego in 2002.

Those who have requested the Virgin of Guadalupe for aid with life problems have traditionally come in a show of gratitude, sometimes walking the final mile to the Basilica barefoot or on their knees.

Sara Pea Montao, 46, was one of 80 individuals from the southern state of Morelos who came to the Basilica and waited all night to see her.

Thousands unite in Mexico in celebration of the virgin of Guadalupe on the 1531 apparition anniversary

Pea Montao, a housewife, had been praying to the virgin for her son Silverio, 29, who had been arrested in the United States for unlawfully crossing the border. He was eventually liberated.

“I came to greet her on this day, which is very important for all Mexicans,” said Peña Montaño. “My heart was racing from all the emotion.” “I couldn’t wait to get there.”

Evelyn Pilón, 20, came from Chiconcuac, a community on Mexico City’s outskirts known for its knit items and artisanry. Her friend and she were carrying an image of a virgin made from animal bone.

“We walked all night without stopping until now,” Pilón recounted, praying for her baby son’s wellbeing. “When I arrived, I was overcome with emotion because I was reminded of my baby.” I was unable to bring him since he is really ill.”

The trip also drew individuals from all across the world.

“I came here to pray for my people and to see the Mexican faithful who came here by foot,” said Elizabeth Kuszka, 66, of Phoenix, Arizona. “It’s just amazing.”

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