Hundreds Honor Virgin of Guadalupe

December 7, 2008 7:57:13 PM PST
Hundreds of people made a religious pilgrimage through the streets of downtown Fresno Sunday, honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, perhaps Mexico's most popular religious image.Hundreds of Catholics sang, prayed, and braved the chilly weather to honor the Virgin Mother. "We are celebrating the 477th anniversary when the mother of God comes to the little mountain in Mexico City," said Rev. Guillermo Preciado of St. John's Cathedral.

Every December, the faithful celebrate and re-enact the virgin mother's appearance to an Indian peasant, Juan Diego. The appearance happened back in 1531, and Sunday, as Azteca dancers honored her, they also did their part to keep the tradition alive. "It's a spiritual event and its a spiritual dance that we were taught to do and we're going to keep handing it on to the next generation and hopefully it never goes away," said Jesse Marmolejo.

Marmolejo wore very little as he danced through the streets but said the cold air was the last thing on his mind. He called participating in the march an enlightening experience. "It's an honor to be able to dance for the Virgin de Gualalupe, it makes your feet lighter, it makes dance faster, it makes your spirit soar," said Marmolejo.

The procession began at St. John's Cathedral and ended at the convention center where a few thousand people celebrated mass with Bishop John Steinbock. Catholics say the size of Sunday's crowd speaks volumes. "Devotion of Mary is not dead. We're happy to see it here in California the fact that people are here, out here sacrificing their day, bringing their families to show the importance Mary plays in their life, said Cynthia Taylor of Kerman.

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