Thousands honor Our Lady of Guadalupe in ancient Mexican tradition

December 27, 2016

Dancers are seen during a celebration honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe in Houston Dec. 11. More than 1,500 Matachine and Danzante indigenous folk dancers paraded through the city center a day ahead of the Dec. 12 feast of the patroness of the Americas. Photo by James Ramos/Herald.

HOUSTON — On the morning of Dec. 11, thousands of people from across the Archdiocese joined together in an expression of devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas.

The streets of downtown Houston were filled with the colorful display of costumes, music and dancing of centuries-old Mexican tradition for the Archdiocese's annual city-wide celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

More than 1,500 Danzantes and Matachines (indigenous folk dancers), all wearing elaborate headpieces and traditional Aztec-style dress, processed from the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart to the George R. Brown Convention Center. 

Along the procession route, the Danzantes and Matachines performed dances which have been handed down from generation to generation. These performances are traditional displays of affection and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Participants also showed their devotion by taking turns carrying an image of Our Lady that came from Mexico City and made contact with the original tilma of St. Juan Diego. In addition, the 40 flags from countries of whom Our Lady is queen and empress were represented during the procession.

Upon arrival at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the festivities continued with traditional songs and dancing, reflection and prayer in celebration of the appearance of the Virgin Mary, or Our Lady of Guadalupe, to Juan Diego in the early 16th century near Mexico City. The event culminated with a 5 p.m. Mass celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. 

"This annual celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe is important to us, the Catholic Hispanic community, because we venerate her as the mother of Jesus, because she is the mother of the Americas and because she reminds us of our roots," said Norma Morua, a member of the Archdiocesan Guadalupana Association from St. Juan Diego Catholic Church in Pasadena. 

"This year's celebration is extra special because it takes place the day before the actual feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe," said Pablo Guzman, president of the Guadalupana Association of the Archdiocese. "It is a time for all to gather and celebrate with each other and with our bishops, and then the next day, we continue honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe in our own our parishes."

He added that the event is also an opportunity for people of different cultures, people from North, Central and South America, to unite and express their faith and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

"Our cultures often come with distinct characteristics, all with different ways of honoring Our Lady…but through this event we share our devotion to her and her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ," Guzman said.

Sergio Castillo, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, said, "Our Lady of Guadalupe meets people where they are. She identified with St. Juan Diego. She spoke like him and even looked like him... she became ‘one of us' when she appeared on the Tepeyac."
He continued, "When we look at the image of Our Lady, we are home because we are in the presence of our heavenly Mother. It doesn't matter where we are — Houston, Latin-America, or anywhere in the world. When you find yourself wrapped in your mother's gaze, you are home." 
The annual event commemorates the official Dec. 12 Church feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.