Photos by Alan M. Dumoff, more photos ccdphotolibrary.smugmug.com
Mexican Catholics in the Diocese of Camden came together on Dec. 6, to take part in La Antorcha Guadalupana, a torch relay to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.Originating from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico, the torch has passed through Mexican-Catholic communities in Mexico and the United States, until its resting place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Dec. 12, the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
A procession of Mexican-Catholics carried the torch and icons of the Virgin through the streets of Camden, down Federal Street, and to St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral in East Camden, where Mass was celebrated by parochial vicar Father Joel Arciga Camarillo.
On the morning of Dec. 7, the torch made its way to its next stop, in East Stroudsburg, Pa.
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe commemorates events in Mexico in 1531, when on Dec. 9, peasant St. Juan Diego experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary on Tepeyac Hill.
Speaking with Diego, the Virgin Mary asked for a church to be built on the spot she was standing. Diego told his vision to the archbishop, who asked Diego to return to Tepeyac Hill and ask the apparition for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. Upon his visit, the Virgin instructed Diego to gather roses, which she arranged in his cloak.
Returning to the Archbishop on Dec. 12, Diego opened his cloak, and an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was now imprinted on the fabric.
Juan Diego was canonized on July 31, 2002 by Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Today Our Lady of Guadalupe is not only revered by Mexicans but also honored as patroness of the Americas. Wearing an Aztec maternity belt, she is also the patroness of the unborn.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a National Shrine in Mexico City, now stands on the site where the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego. The shrine houses Diego’s cloak, with the image of the Virgin, and is visited by millions every year.