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Bishop Presides at Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass in Sanford

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At 6 a.m. on December 12, 2012, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, presiding at Mass at St. Stephen the First Martyr Church in Sanford, NC. Fr. Robert F. Ippolito, M.S., Pastor of St. Stephen, was the celebrant and homilist. The Bishop addressed the congregation briefly in Spanish after Communion. The Mass ended with a joyous dance performed by pairs of children dressed in traditional costumes.

More than 40 churches and mission communities in the Diocese of Raleigh scheduled Masses and celebrations in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The day marks one of the most important religious holidays in the Mexican Church calendar, commemorating the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, located near the site of the apparition, hosts an estimated ten million pilgrims a year, making it the most popular Marian shrine in the world.

The feast day is celebrated in many Latin American countries and in many parishes in the United States. Several parishes hold the celebrations as early as the evening before, while others conduct prayers and reenactments at midnight and in the early morning hours.

At St. Stephen, the celebration began with a procession at 8:30 p.m. on December 11, followed by an all-night vigil. Many of those attending brought flowers to place by the shrine of the Virgin, before kneeling there to pray. At 5 a.m. on December 12, the church was overflowing as those in attendance joined in the Mananitas, the traditional “morning songs” sung on this feast. Mass began at 6 a.m., followed by a parish breakfast.

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