Our Lady of Guadalupe was honored with music, prayer, processions, drama and dance at celebrations at many parishes Dec. 11 and 12.
The Dec. 12 feast day commemorates Mary’s appearance in 1531 to St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin near Mexico City.
She is the patron of Mexico and the Americas and is a symbol of hope because she appeared to a poor young Aztec man, said Dora Montoy, a member of St. James Church in Conway.
“She chose a poor person instead of a member of high society, and this proves she has a message for everyone,” Montoy said. “Our Lady of Guadalupe touches everybody’s hearts.”
St. James’ annual celebration reportedly drew a crowd of 1,000, including 120 runners who took part in the annual torch run between Loris and Conway. The Conway parish joined others that held Mass at midnight Dec. 12 to honor the feast day.
At Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in North Myrtle Beach, an estimated 600 people sang a midnight “Happy Birthday” song to their patroness, said member Lorena Lozada of Tabor City, N.C. Children performed dances honoring Mary, and the crowd walked around the church grounds holding a statue of her.
The observance started with a 5 a.m. rosary Dec. 11 at St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, and continued throughout the day with Mass, a procession, music and dancing. Elsewhere in the Midlands, large celebrations took place at St. John of the Cross in Batesburg-Leesville and St. John Neumann Church in Columbia. The event at Our Lady of the Hills Church included a drama depicting the Blessed Mother’s appearance to Juan Diego.
In the Upstate, approximately 300 people packed St. Mary of the Angels in Anderson for midnight Mass Dec. 12, said Franciscan Father Aubrey McNeil, the church’s pastor.
Deacon Gabriel Cuervo of the Office of Catholic Charities in Greenville gave a homily focused on the importance of showing faith in God and devotion to Mary all year long, not just one night a year. Afterward, the crowd braved chilly temperatures to enjoy guitar music and traditional food outdoors.
“It’s a wonderful celebration, always very festive,” Father Aubrey said. “It’s a chance for people to celebrate and forget their problems.”
Dee Rodriguez, parish director of Hispanic ministries, estimated that more than 1,200 people came from Ridgeland, Hardeeville, Beaufort and nearby communities for the Dec. 11 festivities at St. Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton. A procession featured dancers, mariachi musicians, and people carrying the flags of all the nations in North and South America. After Mass, Rodriguez said the people ate and danced together outside.
In Greenwood, nearly 200 people carried Marian statues on the streets near Our Lady of Lourdes Church, and then joined about 1,000 others for Mass, a rosary and a meal. Many children dressed up like St. Juan Diego, and families brought their own images of Our Lady of Guadalupe to be blessed, said Letitia Flores, church coordinator of Hispanic ministry.
“Many people of all backgrounds joined in the Mass, and it was just a beautiful event,” Flores said. “It’s important for the whole community to bond together, because we’re all one under God. Our Lady of Guadalupe belongs to everybody.”