Our Lady of Guadalupe was surely a challenging topic we explored on December 6, one week before the big December 12 national celebration that expands the nation.
You’ve probably seen the many pilgrimages by all kinds of groups on Puerto Vallarta streets that march to honor the Virgin and to show the community their appreciation for her. Only last night I witnessed such a march on Basilio Badillo Avenue, at 10 pm! People carried flowers, candles, religious images and some wore pre-Columbian costumes to honor her and remember their roots. A very pretty sight even though a few motorists were upset at the crawling traffic that resulted.
In addition to the extraordinary (if you have faith) or just too-hard-to-believe (if you don’t) story of Juan Diego and the Virgin on the Tepeyac hill in the northern part of what is now Mexico City, we explored the many visual keys that her image offered for the indigenous people to identify with her and convert to Catholicism. She was the reason thousands finally adopted Christianity in the former lands of the Aztec Empire by 1531. Someone in our audience was relieved at learning that the Virgin is not standing on a pair of devilish horns showing their ugly points from hell… but simply on a rising moon.
We also learned, however, about the sacrifice, pain, and suffering that following the Virgin of Guadalupe entails. We discovered how this fundamentalist type of Catholicism calls on the faithful to endure this life –with all its pain— in order to reach the prize of eternal salvation.
We finally explored the beautiful, and huge, sanctuary of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City as it stands today. Our guests were amazed at the design and architectural ingenuity --brought about by Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez-- that allows for 1.5 million people to visit the Virgin every 12 of December.
A video showed us the Tepeyac hill, where the story began, and the gardens and corners for meditation that abound all around. Take a look here:
See you there next week when we’ll trouble ourselves with the tough topic of Mexico-United States relations. See you there!