On December 12, approximately 60 churches in the Diocese of Raleigh celebrated Masses and held special events marking the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The celebration commemorates the appearance of Our Blessed Mother to Saint Juan Diego, a poor Mexican laborer, on Dec. 9, 1531. When Mary appeared, she identified herself as the Mother of the True God, Creator of all things, and asked Juan Diego to request the Bishop of Mexico to build a church on the site of the apparition. The Bishop responded by telling the laborer he needed to see a sign from the Virgin Mother in order to believe. When Saint Juan Diego returned to the Bishop several days later, he opened his cloth tilma and roses fell to the floor. Inside his tilma was the image of the Holy Mother. The basilica was built within two years time.
The feast is celebrated in parishes throughout Mexico, most of Latin America and in a growing number of parishes in the United States with a re-enactment of the apparition of Our Lady to Saint Diego.
The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass at San Juan Diego Mission Church in Robbins. The Bishop blessed a new image of Our Lady of Guadalupe prior to Mass. Three couples had their marriages blessed by Father Bill John Acosta-Escobar, Administrator of the parish, who also baptized five children during the ceremony. Each family had its picture taken with the Bishop as a Christmas gift from the parish.
Hundreds of parishioners at Saint Mary, Mother of the Church in Garner took part in the re-enactment Friday evening, December 11, following a procession of music and dance. That was followed by celebration of Mass at midnight.
Feast day festivities at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham began early Friday evening with a procession. The Church opened for prayer and devotion at 11:00 PM, which continued until 5:00 AM, when Early Mass was celebrated. At noon on Saturday, approximately 500 people, many in folkloric dress, took part in a neighborhood procession featuring prayer, dancers and song. The celebration concluded with more than 1200 people attending the Feast Day Mass at 2:00 PM.
In 1945, Pope Pius XII proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe “Queen of Mexico” and “Empress of the Americas,” a status re-affirmed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. In 1976, a new Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was built near Mexico City. It reportedly attracts 10 million people a year, making it the most popular Marian shrine in the world.