The pilgrimage of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico returns without restriction
MEXICO — Mexico’s largest religious pilgrimage for its Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe returned Monday without restrictions for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. For two years, the pilgrimage of several days had been canceled or shortened because the massive number of faithful presented a risk of contagion.
During the darkest days of the pandemic in 2020, the basilica in Mexico City where the image of the Virgin is kept was completely closed for four days. It was open in 2021, but pilgrims from all over the country were not allowed to maintain their tradition of sleeping outdoors.
For the ceremony on December 12 this year, the patio of the basilica was flooded by a sea of tents and sleeping people.
People sleep in the basilica to show their devotion – one of the highlights is a midnight mass during which the traditional birthday song “Las Mañanitas” is sung to the Virgin – but also because many pilgrims are poor.
Hundreds of thousands of people walk, cycle or take buses for the pilgrimage. This year, the government of Mexico City estimated that a total of 3.1 million people visited the shrine in the past few days.
“Thanks to God, we have returned to normality,” said the rector of the basilica, Msgr. Salvador Martínez, said in a statement inviting people to visit “if possible, avoiding large crowds”.
Such good intentions were impossible in the midst of a human sea of believers.
The basilica houses an image of the Virgin which is said to have miraculously imprinted itself on a coat belonging to the indigenous peasant Juan Diego in 1531.
Virgo Day is also celebrated throughout Mexico with fireworks. During such an event in a town northeast of Mexico City, a truck carrying fireworks reportedly exploded, injuring an unknown number of people.
There has been no official count of the injured in Sunday night’s explosion in the town of Nopaltepec. Photos released by volunteer firefighters from the nearby town of San Martín de los Piramides showed the burnt and twisted wreckage of the van lying in a street.