The sights and sounds of ancient Mexican tradition will soon fill downtown Houston

December 5, 2013

Procession, festivities and Mass celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
By Catherine Rogan, Media Relations Specialist, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
Dec. 8, 2013

The sights and sounds of ancient Mexican tradition will soon fill downtown Houston
Drums, costumes, music and dancing of centuries-old Mexican tradition will fill the streets of downtown Houston on Dec. 8, 2013 – all in an expression of devotion and thanksgiving to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas.

Celebrating its 40th year here, more than 5,000 people from across the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will unite and rejoice for the annual city-wide celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The event begins at 12:00 p.m. with 30 groups of Danzantes and Matachines (indigenous folk dance troupes), all wearing elaborate headpieces and traditional Aztec-style dress, processing from 1700 San Jacinto St. to the George R. Brown Convention Center. This is one of the largest celebrations of its kind within the U.S. Hispanic Catholic community.

The performances of the Danzantes and Matachines go beyond dancing. Handed down from generation to generation, they are a manifestation of affection and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Individuals also show their devotion by taking turns carrying the 40 flags from the countries of whom Our Lady is queen and empress.

Sergio Castillo, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, says “Personally, I have always been moved by the downtown procession because it is a very visible and concrete sign of Our Lady’s presence among us, her children. I see the downtown procession as the first testimony of unity and the seed of an even deeper unity within our community.”

Attendees and participants also have the opportunity to view a re-enactment of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Juan Diego. The day culminates with a 5 p.m. Mass at the Convention Center celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo.

“For Hispanic Catholics, this celebration takes many forms,” says Margie Casarez, president of the Guadalupana Association of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, which sponsors the event. “To many it is the culmination of the year-long activities that take place in Catholic parishes throughout the Archdiocese, all with distinct characteristics, all with different ways of honoring Our Lady … but all with the same devotion to her and her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Adds Castillo: “Our Lady of Guadalupe is more than just a religious symbol, understood as a matter of preference. She is a symbol of a cultural and communal identity. An entire continent took form around her appearance, or rather around her. She brought together Spanish and indigenous people in an unprecedented way in the Americas, and she is the hope of a new unity for us today and for the future.”

The annual event commemorates the official Church feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.

Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego
In 1531, on a hill near a rural village just outside of Mexico City, the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, appeared to a humble peasant named Juan Diego, now St. Juan Diego.

Surrounded by light and speaking in his indigenous tongue of Nahuatl, Our Lady told Juan Diego she wanted a church built to manifest her Son’s love and hear the petitions of the faithful. To help him in his mission, she gave him a sign, imprinting her beautiful image on his cloak. From it would flow miracles. The news spread quickly throughout Mexico, and in the following years, millions would convert to Catholicism.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston serves 1.2 million Catholics in 10 counties.
It is the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Texas and the 12th largest in the United States.

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