Sunday, December 12th, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is always a very special event for the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the first cathedral in the United States named in her honor. This year there is a second reason for celebration, the dedication of a new church honoring Saint Juan Diego, the Indian peasant to whom Our Lady appeared at Tepeyac in 1531.
Mary’s apparition to Juan Diego occurred only ten years after Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztec Empire. During those years the indigenous people suffered much as many Spaniards considered them less than human and some were enslaved and treated with great cruelty. Dominican Friar Bartolomé de las Casas championed the Indians’ cause in New Spain and in the Spanish Court and finally won royal protection for them.
It was during this time that Mary appeared to Juan Diego. Her appearance as an Indian woman who spoke in Nahuatl, the native tongue, was a strong influence in gaining more humane treatment for the Indians. Her image has become a symbol of freedom from oppression by the Mexican and Mexican-American people ever since.
Mary has always led us to Jesus. Her words at Cana “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5) reflect how she points to her Son. Our Lady of Guadalupe has fulfilled that role especially well with her Mexican children whose devotion to her has always led them to the crucified Jesus.
We will begin the celebration at the cathedral with the Serenata by mariachis at 11 p.m. on Dec. 11, followed by Midnight Mass. At 5 a.m. more serenading of Our Lady by mariachis with Las Mañanitas, the traditional early morning celebration followed by Mass at 6 o’clock. The festivities close with the Cierre de Fiesta at 7 p.m.
In the afternoon we will dedicate the new Saint Juan Diego Church in North Dallas. The community began in 2001 from St. Monica Parish and first met in an open field. It was designated a quasi-parish in 2006. It will become a fully independent parish on Sunday when the new church is dedicated.
It will indeed by a joyful Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.