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Mexico's Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Cynthia Roderick | Oaxaca, Mexico

A mother brings her daughter to the church to receive a blessing.

In Mexico, many catholics celebrate the miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12. Although the country is rapidly changing, even secularizing, much religious observation here is cultural tradition, often originating in indigenous practices. For example, the Virgin of Guadalupe’s forerunner was the Aztec goddess Tonantzin, worshipped on the same hill where the Virgin miraculously appeared in 1531 to Juan Diego, a poor peasant.

The Virgin asked to have a basilica built in her honor. When Juan Diego asked the Virgin for proof of her appearance, Castile roses grew on the barren ground and her image appeared on his cloak. He went to the archbishop, unfurled his cloak and the roses tumbled out revealing the Virgin’s image. She was named the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Parents bring their children to church on December 12 to seek the Virgin’s blessing and protection for them. Often the children are dressed in peasant costumes of the time of the miracle, and mustaches like Juan Diego’s are painted on the boys’ faces.

In 2002, Pope John Paul II canonized Juan Diego.
 

 Everyday life in Mexico is often overlooked in the midst of more dramatic and disturbing news about crime and official corruption. Yet life goes on here despite numerous problems. People celebrate at every opportunity and families remain the rich source of emotional sustenance. It is this Mexico I know best and wish to portray in my work.

 

 cynthrod1@gmail.com

www,cynthiaroderick.com

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