Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
On Dec. 9, 1531, St. Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, when the Blessed Mother – Our Lady of Guadalupe -- appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill near what is now Mexico City. She asked Juan to request that his bishop build a shrine at the site of her appearance. When the bishop refused, the Blessed Mother told Juan to gather several roses, even though it was wintertime. The Holy Mother placed them in his tilma [cloak] and told Juan to deliver them to the bishop as proof of her appearance. When Juan Diego dropped the flowers to the floor at the feet of his bishop, there was revealed on Juan’s tilma an image of the Blessed Mother.
The event was one of the defining moments which gave birth to the spread of Catholicism in Mexico.
Some 420 years later, the faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City gathered in their own corners of the diocese to celebrate this momentous event.
At the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dodge City, throngs of faithful entered into the social hall Sunday, Dec. 11, to honor the patroness of the Cathedral in anticipation of her feast day.
The celebration began in the early afternoon and went on into the night. In addition to the large groups of danzantes and dancing couples were karate classes and singers, all displaying their skills as a way to honor God and His Holy Mother. The celebration continued the next day, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
With a painting of Our Lady set at one end of the large hall, the groups danced, sang, or displayed their athletic prowess.
Later in the evening, the powerful sounds of drums announced the arrival of one of several groups of danzantes, large troops of boys and girls, men and women, donned in colorful Aztec dress, bamboo beads jangling, large headdresses defying the laws of gravity.
The dancers were not dancing to entertain -- although entertain they did -- but as a prayer of thanksgiving, hope and community.
At approximately 9:40 p.m., the runners of the “Carrera Guadalupena” (The Virgin of Guadalupe Race), entered through the cathedral doors, signifying a finish to their two-day torch relay, which began the previous morning in Wichita, some 160 miles away.
It was the seventh year for the run, each one increasing in distance. In Pratt, the approximate half-way point of the run, the group slept on the gym floor at Sacred Heart School.
“In the morning, Father Floyd [McKinney] and I gave a blessing for them as they continued on,” said Bishop John B. Brungardt.
“What dedication, sacrifice and devotion this group has for our Blessed Mother, as evidenced by their pilgrimage from Wichita to Dodge -- not walking, but running!” the bishop said. “I was very touched and impressed by their pilgrimage.”
The runners made the front page of the Dodge City Daily Globe, in which runner Polo Romero Sr. told Nancy Calderon of the Globe that the run was a “tradition that we’ve brought from Mexico.” He said that it was a way to “demonstrate our faith,” while the torch “signifies the light of Christ.”
At 10:30 p.m., as more and more faithful filled the cathedral to standing-room-only, Bishop Brungardt celebrated Mass, after which the throngs sang the Las Mañanitas, a kind of Happy Birthday, sung to commemorate the anniversary of the day the Holy Mother chose to appear to an Mexican Indian, changing the direction of faith from that moment onward.