Hundreds of Local Catholics Processed D.C. Streets in Honor of Mary

“Walk with Mary” pilgrimage celebrated rich cultural diversity of local Catholic community

Monday, December 12, 2016

WASHINGTON D.C. — On Saturday, December 10, more than a thousand local area Catholics processed on a journey of faith along D.C. streets to commemorate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Archdiocese of Washington’s “Walk with Mary” pilgrimage. They processed from two parishes, Holy Name Church and the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Pilgrims sang, danced, and prayed the rosary as they walked, while celebrating the rich cultural diversity and unity of faith that is represented in the archdiocese. At the basilica, a total of twenty-five hundred people gathered and there were opportunities for individuals to go to confession and pray a multilingual rosary before the Mass. The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington was the homilist.

The liturgy began with Aztec dancers and a portrayal of Saint Juan Diego presenting the tilma (cloak) with the image of the Virgin Mary. The replica of the tilma used in the archdiocese’s celebration was hand-embroidered by nuns from the Convent of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Mexico.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called for a day of prayer on December 12 in support of the Catholic Church’s ongoing effort to minister pastorally to the needs of refugees and migrants. As he concluded the Mass, Cardinal Wuerl said, “In our nation right now, we have many, many brothers and sisters, immigrants, migrants, people that we have to welcome into our family because they are a part of our family. We must always remember that and keep them in our hearts and in our prayers.”

About the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is primarily celebrated among the Latino Catholic community and commemorates the miraculous appearances of the Virgin Mary that took place in 1531 in Tepeyac near Mexico City. The Virgin Mary appeared several times to a peasant, Juan Diego, and requested that a church be built where she stood. Roses miraculously appeared despite the cold winter and Juan Diego carried these to the local bishop in his tilma (cloak). Upon dropping the roses and tilma, an image of Mary appeared on the garment – an image visible five hundred years later. Today, that tilma and image is housed in the cathedral built on the site of the apparition in Mexico.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is known as the “Patroness of the Americas,” and is credited with converting thousands of Native Americans in the New World. Her much revered image is celebrated by Catholics in the United States and around the world. Juan Diego was declared a saint in 2002 and his feast day is celebrated on December 9. The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12.

About the Hand-Embroidered Tilma

In honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Sisters of the Convento de las Adoratrices Perpetuas del Santisimo Sacramento (Convent of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament) in Mexico, through a connection with the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington D.C., presented a hand-embroidered tilma bearing a replica of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Archdiocese of Washington. The tilma was part of the opening of the liturgy and displayed at the basilica during the Mass. It will be taken to churches throughout the archdiocese. Its first stop will be at the Our Lady Queen of the Americas Church in Washington on December 12.

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The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Chieko Noguchi or Lizzie Wahle
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