Beyond Our Lady of Guadalupe
And rightly so. It’s the most popular Catholic shrine in the world. Some 20 million people visit each year.
What most don’t know is that, in the wake of Juan Diego’s image-producing encounter with the Blessed Mother in the 1500s, there came an effusion of Marian devotion throughout the country. Millions converted to the Catholic faith — and hundreds of churches and shrines were built. Many of these “secondary” sites are familiar to Mexicans but unknown to Americans.
Last fall, having heard about this great but
unheralded treasure trove, my husband and I embarked on a six-week bus tour of
First things first. In our travels, we discovered not only a plethora of these wonders — we visited at least 20 unforgettable shrines — but also the excellence of the Mexican bus system. Contrary to popular perception, it was efficient, luxurious and inexpensive. We were even served lunch.
Now to the shrines. All the sites we visited have been approved by the
Church, most have fascinating stories to tell and many are thronged by
pilgrims. The Miami Herald reported
that 1 million pilgrims turned out for the Oct. 12, 2005, feast of Our Lady of Zapopan, a shrine near
The shrines are open all day and have evening as well as daytime Masses. Many also have Eucharistic adoration.
It would be impossible to single out favorites, and
this space is limited. So here are descriptions of three of
A short ride from the Zocalo
(the main plaza) of
Placed over the main altar of this modern yet
reverent church is a 400-year-old image of the Pietà.
Its origins were miraculous. Two Dominican friars journeyed to
As the friars were uncrating the “sketch” in the presence of their confreres, an exquisite full-color painting was revealed in its place. Many verified miracles have been worked through the intercession of Our Lady of Compassion.
The second most popular shrine in
A reported 9 million pilgrims travel here every year.
This bustling market town is a two-hour bus trip east of
The events of this shrine began with a tragedy in 1623. A little girl, a member of an aerial acrobatic family, fell to her death while she was swinging on a trapeze high above the crowds. She had been dead for several hours when a devout lady suggested placing a statue of Our Lady on her chest. As soon as the image came in contact with the child, she sat bolt upright in perfect health, wondering what all the fuss was about.
News of the miracle spread like
wildfire and crowds have been flocking to the shrine ever since, enamored of
Our Lady of San Juan de los
Song From the Wood
Tlaxcala, a picturesque town in the highlands of the
The basilica is in the Churrigueresque style, a type of architecture named after the 17th-century architect, Churriguera, who was known for his ornate, Baroque style of decoration.
The miraculous events associated with this shrine are as extraordinary as those of Guadalupe. It’s said that, in 1541, Our Lady appeared to a humble Indian and revealed to him a spring of water that would heal the entire town of smallpox. (At that time 9 out of 10 Indians were dying from the disease.) She also had a message for the Franciscan friars. They were to find an image of her “in this place” through which her “mercy and blessings would be brought forth.”
Taking an ax to the tallest tree, the astonished Franciscans discovered the beautiful, 5-foot-high statue of Our Lady of Ocotlan encased within the trunk of the tree. This image is situated over the main altar of the basilica.
She continues to bestow miracles to the present day. Bishop Escobar, ordinary of the Diocese of Tlaxcala, witnessed a miraculous change in the statue’s facial coloring in 1987. This is a phenomenon many have noticed throughout the ages.
Back in 1958, Joseph Cassidy wrote a book about the
Mary Hansen writes from
- April 30-May 6, 2006