Hundreds gather to celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Hundreds of members of Maine’s Hispanic community came together at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Sunday, December 10, to celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Feast Day, which is actually December 12, commemorates the Blessed Virgin Mary’s appearances to Juan Diego, a humble Aztec Indian, on Tepeyac Hill outside Mexico City in 1531. It's a day that holds special significance for Hispanic Catholics.

“To celebrate a saint and to our Virgin Mary from Guadalupe is big, especially for the Mexican people, and we have a big Mexican community here in Maine, especially in the Portland,” said Jocelyn Alvarez, from Topsham, who attended the celebration. “I see a lot of people here today who are just happy to be here and celebrating their culture. I think it’s great that a lot of people came out to praise God and to praise our Virgin Mary as well.”

“I think it’s very significant because it shows how God works,” said Daniel Corona, whose parents are originally from Mexico. “God demonstrated his love and his willingness to bring back his people and show them the correct way. He sent Mary to bring us to him. The Virgin of Guadalupe has always worked with us.”

The feast day festivities began with a Mass celebrated in Spanish by Father Michael Sevigny, OFM Cap., director of the diocese’s Office of Hispanic Ministry. He was joined by Bishop Robert Deeley and Father Seamus Griesbach, rector of the cathedral.

“During this time, Our Lady comes to give the gift of peace,” said Father Sevigny. “She is always calling us to come to her heart. So, this is an opportunity, before we celebrate the gift of Christmas, to prepare ourselves well interiorly. That was what she asked – to build a church. We need to build that church for her.”

Wishing everyone a happy feast day, the bishop said that the Blessed Mother came to this part of our world to bring a message from God about how blessed we are.

“God’s love for us is infinite. God’s care for us goes beyond anything we can imagine. That is the message from Mary, the Mother of God. That is the message that we hear on this feast. And it’s not only for ourselves, but it is for the way in which we live with one another,” Bishop Deeley said.

After the Mass in the cathedral, the celebration moved to Guild Hall where there was music, dancing, food, and a skit reenacting the Blessed Virgin Mary’s appearances to Juan Diego, during which she directed him to go to the area's bishop and ask that a church be built for the conversion of the nation. Skeptical, the bishop wanted a sign that it was truly the Blessed Virgin Mary that Juan Diego saw. That assurance came in the form of roses which appeared on the hill in the middle of winter. There were arranged on Juan Diego’s tilma, and when he went to see the bishop again, the roses spilled out, revealing an image of Our Lady.

Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the “Queen of Mexico and Patroness of the Americas” by Pope Pius XII in the 1940s.

Children in opening procession
Jonathan Majano plays guitar
Parishioners in colorful outfits
Father Michael Sevigny
Bishop Robert Deeley
Mexican Hat Dance