CATHOLIC ONLINE REPORT: Many American cities join in the festivities
Pilgrims arrive by the thousands, many of them by bicycle and make their way to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City on the eve of the feast. Among them, dancers, musicians, singers and other performers come to offer their performances in honor of La Virgen Morena (the dark Virgin).
As the patron of Mexico, the faithful from all over the nation begin to arrive on the day before the celebration at the Basilica of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, home of the miraculous image of La Virgin Morena (the dark Virgin).
Pilgrims arrive by the thousands, many of them by bicycle and make their way into the atrium of the Basilica. Among them, dancers, musicians, singers and other performers come to offer their performances in honor of La Morenita.
At night a Mass is offered in the Basilica and the festivities continue through the night until the next day including lots of fireworks. Fiestas like this are actually held in places all over the country in honor of their Patroness - Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Parades and fiestas are also taking place in U.S. cities. Rocco Palma, on his blogsite Whispers in the Loggia, has placed video reports from such diverse locations as New York; Bridgeport, CT; Atlanta, San Francisco; Sacramento and Philadelphia.
The appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Juan Diego changed the history of Mexico and has made a long-term impact throughout the Americas.
On December 9, 1531, Diego, an Aztec convert to Catholicism, was walking to Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when a woman appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill.
She identified herself as the "ever-perfect holy Mary, who has the honor to be the mother of the true God," speaking in the Aztec dialect.
"I am your compassionate Mother," she went on to say, "yours and that of all the people that live together in this land and also of all the other various lineages of men."
He was told to pass on a request to his local bishop that a house dedicated to her Son be constructed on the site of a former pagan temple. This house would be used to exalt him to the people of Mexico and allow him to be exalted throughout the world.
"I want very much that they build my sacred little house here" - a house dedicated to her son Jesus Christ, on the site of a former pagan temple, that would "show Him" to all Mexicans and "exalt Him" throughout the world.
The new convert met with Bishop Juan de Zumárraga who received the message with skepticism and said he needed a sign, proof that this message was real.
Diego's uncle was dying and needed attention. On December 12 he was on his way to the church, this time to ask the priest to come and give his uncle last rites.
The woman again appeared to him. She assured him that his uncle would be healed and told him that she would give him a sign for the bishop. He would find roses and other flowers on Tepeyac hill even though it was winter. He brought the flowers to the Virgin Mary who told him to put them in his tilma - a winter outer garment . She told him not to unfold the tilma with the flowers until he was with the bishop.
Bishop Zumárraga was astounded as the tilma was unwrapped and the image of the Virgin Mary, just as Diego has met her on the hill, was imprinted on the tilma.