Our Lady of Guadalupe has been a huge symbol of faith for most Mexicans since colonial times. From the first time she appeared to Juan Diego, to how she portrayed herself in his ayate so that people would believe in her appearances, The Virgin slowly turned herself into one of the main sacred symbols in Mexico’s history, and because of this, many pilgrims around the country and the world, are willing to sacrifice what is needed to visit this incredible place where the alleged image that appeared in Juan Diego’s clothing is kept.
Origins of the pilgrimage
Back in 1531, The Virgin chose Juan Diego to be her voice in our world, so she appeared in front of him at the top of the Cerro del Tepeyac, asked him to meet Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, and tell him that she wanted a church built right where she appeared. Of course, nobody believed Juan Diego at first, but when The Virgin appeared to him again on December 12, he confessed to her that his mission had failed.
Then, she sent him back to the hill where they first met and told him to cut some of the flowers available, wrap them in his ayate and take them to the bishop; that way this last one would believe him. So Juan Diego did what he was told, and when he unfolded his ayate to show the flowers to the bishop, the flowers fell, revealing an amazing image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Everyone was amazed, and soon the very first Basilica was erected right where she had intended.
The power of the pilgrimage
Since then, and due to the strong faith that people have towards her, the Basilica of Guadalupe welcomes now around 40 million visitors every year, making it the second most visited temple in the entire world.
Especially on the days closer to December 12th, around 9 million people make a pilgrimage to the Basilica to get to know her and her story in this particular place and country, to thank her for all the blessings she has provided them, or to listen to the special mass that is held in her name. Usually, pilgrims come from other Mexican regions like Puebla and Yucatán or even from different parts of the world like all Latin America, Europe, the United States, Canada and so many more.
This celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a huge event that not only characterizes Mexican traditions and beliefs but also brings international people together to share a small piece of culture and faith in this beautiful place that has so much history to tell.
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