The pews were packed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels last night, in a celebration that stretched through the wee hours of morning, to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

“On this beautiful night, we thank God for sending his gift of Our Lady of Guadalupe, our mother,” said Archbishop Gomez. “She painted this picture of herself on the tilma because she wanted us to see her face, her compassionate and merciful gaze. She painted her own picture with roses, so we could know the beauty of her love for us.”

The annual event begins on the eve of the Virgin of Guadalupe Feast Day, Dec. 11, following a tradition in Mexico City where millions gather at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe where the tilma (cloak) of St. Juan Diego, where the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appeared, is displayed. A half-inch square relic of the tilma, the only piece in the United States, is enshrined at a gilded chapel inside the Cathedral. [see story below]

To kick off the festivities, Aztec and Matachines dancers performed on the Cathedral Plaza while faithful venerated the tilma relic with offerings of prayer and flowers. At 10 p.m., the celebration moved inside the Cathedral for a Rosary, led by emcees Ernesto Vega and Lianna Rebolledo, and other invited guests, accompanied by Cathedral’s Spanish Choir.

Mariachi Los Toros and guest singers serenaded the Virgin and sung “Las Mañanitas,” a traditional Mexican birthday song to honor the Virgin on her Feast Day. This year’s musical tribute, or serenata, included Christian singers Jacky Ibarra and Yesenia Flores, Mariachi singers Julian Torres and Dueto Dos Rosas and pop-jazz singer Gaby Moreno.

Full story at Angelus News.

No need to travel to Mexico City

Millions of pilgrims travel each year to see the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. In one U.S. diocese, however, pilgrims can see a relic of the original image that has been outside Mexico for nearly 80 years.

The relic, a small half-inch cutting taken from the tilma, is kept in a chapel in the Los Angeles cathedral which was dedicated by Archbishop José Gomez in 2012. The fragment of the tilma is preserved in a gold reliquary embedded into the midsection of a sculpture of Saint Juan Diego, giving the effect of the tilma the saint wore.

The relic was given in 1941 by then-Archbishop of Mexico, Luis María Martínez y Rodríguez, to his counterpart in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, John Joseph Cantwell, after he led a large pilgrimage to the Guadalupe Basilica in the Mexican capital.

Archbishop Cantwell provided significant help to Mexican Catholics during the Cristero War and the religious persecution by the Mexican government during the first decades of 20th century. The priest welcomed to his archdiocese priests fleeing from Mexico to survive.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.