A number of Catholics will commit to more than Sunday Mass in the upcoming week.
On Dec. 12, the Catholic Church and many Hispanic Catholics will celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many parishes with heavily Hispanic populations in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will celebrate Our Lady both on her feast day and the night before.
At Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in central Milwaukee, celebrations will start at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, with local musicians and dancers coming to sing to and dance for Mary. Then from, 11 p.m. to midnight, the church, along with a mariachi band, will sing “Las Mañanitas,” a traditional Mexican birthday song usually sung early in the morning to awaken the birthday person. It is a Mexican tradition to sing the song to Mary the night before the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The parish will then have midnight Mass, followed by treats of sweet bread and churros.
Ernesto Ramirez, a trustee of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Patrick Parishes, who organizes the event, said they have been having some kind of feast day celebration at the parish for 20 years now.
“Every year we fill up the Church,” he said. “Hispanic Catholics from around the archdiocese come to our parish for the day.”
St. Patrick Parish in Racine will start its celebration at midnight, singing “Las Mañanitas” with a mariachi band until 3 a.m. The rosary will be prayed periodically. At 6 a.m., there will be a Mass and afterwards, the Church is open for the general public to lay flowers or offer gifts at a special altar dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. At 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12, Bishop Schuerman will celebrate Mass at St. Patrick, which will feature youth dancers from the parish. The dancers will also offer a few dances to Our Lady following Mass.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patriarch of Mexico,” said Eloy Contreras, the organizer of the event at St. Patrick Parish. “The feast day holds major significance in the Mexican culture, with Juan Diego, the apparitions of Our Lady and the signs from the apparitions.”
The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe dates back to 1531. On Dec. 9 of that year, an Aztec farmer or peasant, Juan Diego, was on his was to Mass when he heard beautiful music and saw a vision of a maiden. The maiden identified herself as the Virgin Mary, and asked Jan Diego to build a church in her honor on the hill of Tepeyac, where she appeared to him.
Juan Diego went to the archbishop of Mexico City, who was skeptical. Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego again, who requested that he be persistent and go to the bishop once more. The bishop requested he see a sign of the apparition. In her next appearance, Our Lady told Juan Diego to climb to the top of Tepeyac Hill, where there will be flowers. Although it was the middle of December, Jan Diego found Castillan roses, flowers not native to Mexico, on the top of the hill.
He went back to the archbishop and, as he took off his tilma, or cloak, the roses dropped to the floor, and on the fabric, there was an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, built in the 16th century, at Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City, is Christianity’s most visited pilgrimage site.