The greatest day of the year at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe saw a remarkable turnout for the annual celebration. December 12, the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is an especially memorable occasion at the Shrine, honored with festivities lasting through the day. Ordinarily, when the feast falls on a Monday, fewer pilgrims attend; but this year saw over 500 in attendance—a new record for the Shrine’s Monday celebrations.
Since Our Lady of Guadalupe is so central to the history and culture of Mexico, Mexican culture and traditions marked a number of of the festivities. The day began while the sky was still dark, at 6:30 A.M., with mañanitas, a song honoring the beginning of a special day, played with mariachi music. Slowly the light crept into a gray sky, revealing a graceful covering of snow all across the Shrine. At 8:00 A.M., the Rosary was sung in Spanish, and confessions heard in both Spanish and English. A Mass in Spanish was offered at 8:30 A.M. by Father Miguel, a Norbertine priest who traveled from St. Michael's Abbey in California for the celebration. Afterwards, pan dulce (Mexican pastries), tamales, tortas, and Mexican beverages were served in the Crypt, remaining available all day. The food and refreshments were provided by Fiesta Mexicana.
The day’s remaining devotions were bilingual, held in both English and Spanish, including the Rosary and Confessions at 11:45 and the Mass, celebrated by his Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, at 12:15. In his homily, Cardinal Burke emphasized that the mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe continues in her shrine at La Crosse.
“As we contemplate here,” his Eminence said, “the most beautiful mosaic representation of the even more beautiful, indeed heavenly, image of Our Lady on the tilma of Saint Juan Diego, may we be filled with wonder at how the Mother of God continues the heavenly work of her apparitions at Tepeyac Hill here, in this place sacred to her, to her message of God’s merciful love, to her Son, God the Son Incarnate for our eternal salvation.”
This work, the Cardinal specified, is to offer souls an encounter with the Lord through His Blessed Mother, just as the people of Mexico encountered Him through her apparitions to St. Juan Diego. “It [the Shrine] strives to be as beautiful as humanly possible,” said Cardinal Burke, “so that it may foster and in no way hinder pilgrims in meeting Our Lady and, through her, meeting Our Lord, giving their hearts completely to Him, resting their hearts in His glorious pierced Heart always.”
This truth is at the heart of the celebration of Our Lady’s feast day. The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe is for all people in all times; she offers it constantly to draw her children to her Son. As Cardinal Burke said, “Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to invite us to come to her, so that she may teach us the truth of the Redemptive Incarnation of God the Son.” Her Shrine in La Crosse, WI, is deeply blessed and grateful to take part in spreading her message of God’s redeeming love.