Mexico's Patron Saint
When I planned a vacation to visit friends in Guanajuato, with a three-day stopover in CDMX, I did not know that our short stay in Mexico City would coincide with the massive pilgrimage to honor La Virgen de Guadalupe, Mexico's Patron Saint on her Feast Day, December 12. Last year over 7 million people participated in the annual pilgrimage.
The major gathering starts the day before and the highlight is the Midnight Mass at the Basilica in which a large troupe of Marachis serenade her with the traditional Mexican birthday song, Las Mañanitas.
Earlier in the day on December 11, the streets throughout CDMX were gridlocked with the millions of people who came to Mexico City to pay tribute. At Plaza de La Constitution, (el Zocalo) across the street from our hotel, hundreds of people turned into thousands by late afternoon as they gathered there or stopped enroute to the Basilica: they travelled on foot, bicycles, pedi-cabs, motorcyles, and of course cars, buses and trucks, many of them ornately decorated. They carried framed pictures, wooden and ceramic statues of the Virgin in all imaginable sizes, banners, and specially-designed altars.
You can learn more about the importance of La Guadalupana, in this interesting article from the Yucatan Times: https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2018/12/tonantzin-the-deity-behind-the-virgen-of-guadalupe-cult
Her recognizable image is found in contemporary and modern works of art as well as everyday items such as socks, jeans jackets, t'shirts, and mugs.
An adventuresome taxi driver was able to get me to within two blocks of the back of the Basilica where I saw thousands of people participating in the procession. “Rivers of people,” as someone described it had been waiting for hours to enter the Basilica to participate in services. I was not among the fortunate.
On the flight from San Francisco to Mexico City, I sat next to a Filipino-American woman who was traveling to Mexico with family and friends to visit the shrine. I did not then know that they were coming to participate in one of the largest gatherings of people in Mexico. I was told that the only other events that draw these many people are visits of the Pope.
It was moving to witness the devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe.