Archdiocesan Guadalupe celebration returns to Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

November 28, 2023

Two men carry an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as part of a procession honoring the Blessed Mother during the Marian celebration. This year, the festival is hosted by the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. (File Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — Downtown Houston will be filled with music and festivities of ancient Mexican traditions on Saturday, Dec. 9, to celebrate the anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s appearance to a humble Mexican peasant, St. Juan Diego, in 1531.

The parade celebrating the Virgen de Guadalupe Festival is switching times and locations for its 51-year anniversary. The procession will begin at 8 a.m. at 1700 Bell with dancers and drummers in costumes adorned with feathers and shells.

The route will end at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, at 1111 St. Joseph Pkwy., where a 10 a.m. Mass is scheduled with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, concelebrating.

After Mass, traditional dances and serenades will be performed starting at noon outside the Co-Cathedral, weather permitting, at the 1700 block of San Jacinto between the Chancery building and the Cathedral Centre.

Various Catholic churches will participate with their groups of Matachines dancers and others dressed in Aztec feather headdresses and colorful costumes, honoring the Virgin with their joyful movements and music.

The feast day commemorates the Virgin Mary appearing as Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 to Juan Diego, a humble peasant on his way to Mass in what is now Mexico City.
Lazaro Contreras, director of the Archdiocese Office of Hispanic Ministry, said, “As the Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a symbol of love and understanding, a unifying presence for all of us in the Americas.”

“This event helps families pass on faith and cultural values to younger family members, helping them nurture their spirituality. It also helps others learn more about Our Lady, whom Jesus gave to us as our mother as well,” he said.

The tradition honors the time on Dec. 9, 1531, on a hill of Tepeyac near a village in Mexico when now St. Juan Diego was stopped by the appearance of a brown-skinned woman bathed in light and speaking in his indigenous tongue of Nahuatl. She requested a church to be built on that site to manifest the love of Jesus and hear the petitions of the faithful.

At her bidding, he visited Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, who doubted the story. But Juan Diego met with the Virgin Mary again on Dec. 12, now the official feast day, and she arranged roses within his cloak picked from the hill where only cactus had been growing before. She told him to present the flowers as a gift to the bishop.

When Juan Diego opened his cloak or tilma, the roses tumbled out, and the image of the Virgin Mary was miraculously traced on the coat, which still exists today. Realizing Juan Diego had told him the truth, the bishop began the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which led to massive conversions of indigenous to Catholicism. The shrine in Mexico City, which displays the tilma, remains one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world.

Individual parishes will also be celebrating at their churches starting Monday afternoon of Dec. 11 through Tuesday, Dec. 12. Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 2405 Navigation Blvd. in Houston, will celebrate Masses Dec. 11 at 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. The traditional midnight Mass Dec. 12 will be outside in the church’s plaza.
Then, a morning Mass on Tuesday, Dec. 12, will first begin with the traditional song “Las Mañanitas,” with a Mariachi starting at 5 a.m. and Mass at 6 a.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

Another large celebration is planned at Holy Ghost Catholic Church, 6921 Chetwood Dr., in southwest Houston. Starting Monday, Dec. 11, from 8 p.m. until midnight in the church’s gym, there will be a play on the apparitions of the Virgen de Guadalupe, a Rosary, and performances by their Danza Azteca and Matachines.

Tuesday’s Dec. 12 celebration starts at 4:30 a.m. with “Las Mañanitas,” then continues with 5 a.m. Spanish Mass, 8:10 a.m. English Mass and 7 p.m. Spanish Mass in honor of the Virgen de Guadalupe.