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St. Thomas Aquinas students celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast

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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 Conception. 

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.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016