Communities express a joy-filled devotion to Mary

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe brings an outpouring of joy, faith and devotion to the Blessed Mother around the Diocese of Charleston. 

The feast day falls on Dec. 12 and celebrates the appearance of Mary in 1531 to Juan Diego, a young Aztec weaver, on Tepayec Hill near Mexico City. 

According to tradition, she instructed Juan Diego to build a church on the spot where she appeared. He sought out the local archbishop, who at first denied the request. The Blessed Mother appeared two more times, but the bishop required proof. Juan Diego gathered roses from the hillside where she appeared and wrapped them in his tilma, a traditional cloak. 

When Juan Diego opened the tilma in front of the bishop, the roses poured out and an image of Mary had miraculously appeared on the inside. The tilma is on display today at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. 

The feast day is one of the biggest annual celebrations in Mexico and among Mexican Americans. 

Celebrations in the Diocese of Charleston started the weekend before the feast day. 

On Dec. 9, hundreds showed up for the elaborate annual celebration at St. John of the Cross Church in Batesburg-Leesville. 

It was a special milestone for St. John’s congregation because this was the first time that the feast was celebrated in the new pastoral life building. In past years, the parish had to rent space at the Batesburg-Leesville Leisure Center to accommodate the large crowds. 

That same afternoon, parishioners at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in North Myrtle Beach held a procession, Mass, and a gathering with traditional Mexican food and music. 

Other parishes in the state celebrated on the actual feast day, which fell in the middle of the week on Dec. 12. In many places, the faithful started the feast day with prayers and music at dawn, and continued the celebration late into the night, with liturgies, processions, meals, music and dancing lasting well past midnight. 

Tributes continued in other places on the following weekend, including two Columbia churches. St. John Neumann hosted a Mass, meal and cultural celebration on Dec. 15. At Our Lady of the Hills, a large crowd prayed the rosary together on Dec. 16, then took part in a procession around the church grounds that included men carrying a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and enjoyed entertainment including traditional Aztec dancing. 

Top photo, Miscellany/Doug Deas: Participants at the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe carry her statue during a procession before Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek.

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Miscellany/Keith Jacobs: Young women perform cultural dances for the gathered crowds at the Virgin de Guadalupe celebration at Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Myrtle Beach Dec. 9.


Provided: A group of first-grade students from St. Anne in Rock Hill honored Our Lady with a song in Spanish at the end of the school’s Mass.


Miscellany/Mary Beth Lyons: Spectators watch a re-enactment of Mary’s miraculous appearance to Juan Diego during a celebration at St. Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton on Dec. 12.


Provided: Songs in tribute to Our Lady were part of the celebration Dec. 9 at St. John of the Cross in Batesburg-Leesville.


Miscellany/John Stevenson: Youthful dancers enter St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville on Dec. 11 during a vigil celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day.