North and south of the border, believers celebrated the feast day
of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12 and commemorated the image of an Aztec
princess who appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego in an audience with Bishop
Juan de Zumárraga in 1531.
The miraculous image, known today as “Our Lady of Guadalupe,” was
the proof that the bishop needed to authenticate the apparition Juan Diego had
seen for four days. When the woman first appeared to the farmer, she referred
to herself in his native language, Nahuatl, as “Tlecuatlecupe,” which means
“the one who crushes the head of the serpent.” The lady requested a church be
built to honor the Virginia Mary. When the bishop saw the image of Our Lady of
Guadalupe he approved the construction of the church. Today the Basilica of Our
Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is a popular devotion site.
Our Lady of Guadalupe has become a symbol of unification between two
cultures: the indigenous of Mexico and the Catholic faith. She was proclaimed
the patroness of the Americas in 1945 by Pope Pius XII. With the migration of
Latin American immigrants, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe has become
popular in North America.
A Mass at Our Lady of Angels Church in Woodbridge drew students
from St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School. Many dressed in traditional attire
from Central and South America, while others wore brown bags decorated with
roses and an image of Mary, replicating the famous tilma.
Father Edwin E. Perez, parochial vicar of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Church in Lake Ridge, celebrated the bilingual Mass. In his homily, he recounted
the history of Juan Diego and noted the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the
second Marian feast day in Advent, the first being the feast of the Immaculate
A procession from the church to the school was led by the Knights
of Columbus, the mariachi band and students carrying a statue of Our Lady of
Guadalupe on a platform decorated with roses. The school hosted a reception
featuring different foods from Latin America, made by parents and donated by
local grocery store, Todos Supermarket.
The school has celebrated the feast day for more than seven years.
“The kids love dressing up,” said Raquel Jefferson, whose son
attends St. Thomas Aquinas. “I love that the school does this.”