By Jan Schultz
IMPERIAL (SNR) – An early celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, Sunday, Dec. 7, brought out a bigger crowd than last year.
This was the fifth year the Hispanic community in Imperial led the expanded celebration, remembering the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Mexico in 1531.
Juan Diego, a simple peasant, saw a vision of a young woman Dec. 9, 1531, while he was on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City, Mexico.
He told the local Catholic bishop of his experience, who asked for some proof. Three days later, the image of Mary appeared miraculously on Juan Diego’s cloak as he showed it to the bishop. Today, the cloak is displayed in the Basilica of Guadalupe near one of the most-visited Catholic shrines in the world.
In his Dec. 12 column on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bishop James Conley called the tilma at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe “shockingly beautiful.”
“On the real tilma on which Our Lady imprinted herself,” he wrote, “her eyes are alive, her clothing is splendid, each color is striking and vivid.
“And every single thing on the tilma of Juan Diego is a rich theological symbol,” he continued. “There is no pattern, no line, no color, left to chance. The image is saturated with meaning—so rich, so dense, so bursting with meaning that even today, it is still being ever more clearly understood.”
Father Bernard Lorenz, pastor of St. Patrick Church in Imperial, spent the afternoon taking part in the procession and other activities.
Starting at noon, families began a procession from East 5th Street that traveled several blocks, ending at St. Patrick Church for Mass.
Leading the procession depicting Mary and Juan Diego were Chase County fourth- and fifth-graders Gisselle Acuna and Julian Juarez. Families walking behind joined Father Lorenz in praying the rosary.
After Mass, families gathered at the parish hall, where children re-enacted the story of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s appearance to Juan Diego in Mexico City in 1531.
Local residents also entertained with dancing as they depicted Los Matachines, whose dancing tells the story of Central American Aztec Indians’ conversion to Christianity, as well as their thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and other gifts.
Also dancing were 10 youths who also entertained at Chase County Schools for a Cinco de Mayo celebration earlier the year.
A traditional meal concluded the day’s events, at which 200 were served.
Dec. 9 marked the feast day of St. Juan Diego, while Dec. 12 is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.