Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: The sights and sounds of ancient Mexican tradition to fill downtown

November 26, 2013

HOUSTON — Drums, costumes, music and dancing of centuries-old Mexican tradition will fill the streets of downtown Houston on Dec. 8 — all in an expression of devotion and thanksgiving to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas.

Celebrating its 40th year, more than 5,000 people from across the Archdiocese unite and rejoice for the annual city-wide celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The event begins at noon with 30 groups of danzantes and matachines (indigenous folk dance troupes) processing from 1700 San Jacinto St. to the George R. Brown Convention Center. 

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. The matachines wear elaborate headpieces and traditional Aztec-style dress. 

In addition to this, individuals show their devotion by taking turns carrying the 40 flags from the countries of whom Our Lady is queen.

Sergio Castillo, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministries, said, “Personally, I have always been moved by the downtown procession because it is a very visible and concrete sign of her 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.”

After the procession, the convention center will be filled with scores of matachines, mariachis and other singers. This is one of the largest celebrations of its kind within the U.S. Hispanic Catholic community.

Attendees and participants will also have the opportunity to view a re-enactment of the apparition of St. Juan Diego from the Virgin Mary. 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,” Margie Casarez, president of the Guadalupana Association of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, said. “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.”

Castillo adds, “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 together in an unprecedented way in the Americas, and she is the hope of a new unity for us today and for the future.”

The event is sponsored by the Guadalupana Association of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. It commemorates the official Church feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.