VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis greeted the Latin American Catholic congregation at Wednesday’s general audience and welcomed the Mexican faithful in particular on the occasion of the Festivity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Holy Patron of the Americas.
The Mexican legend states that in 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe presented herself as the Mother of God and of all humanity when she appeared on Tepeyac hill in Mexico. An indigenous peasant, Juan Diego, saw a glowing figure on the hill. After she spoke to him, Our Lady of Guadalupe asked Juan to build her a shrine in that same spot; the rest of the story, human toils and divine miracles included, is firmly rooted in Mexico’s collective memory.
Over 20 million people visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe each year, set on the same hill on which she is said to have appeared.
Pope Francis said: “I warmly greet all Spanish-speaking pilgrims from Spain and Latin America and especially the Mexicans celebrating today our Patron, Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
“May our Lady of Guadalupe, assist us in embracing the love of God’s providence and place all our hopes on him,” he added.
Afterwards, the first Latin American pope in history will officiate a traditional mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica.
During this religious act, the 160-year-old Pontifical Latin American College choir will sing and the congregation will also listen to the official song composed for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day due to take place late January 2019 in Panama.
Following a 2007 tradition, a nativity scene created by Mexican artisans for the “Mexican Christmas at the Vatican” event will be unveiled inside the Paul VI Audience Hall where general audiences are held.
This year, two nativity scenes from the Mexican state of Tamaulipas were selected and will remain on view until Feb. 2, 2019; one located at the Paul VI Audience Hall and the other inside the Vatican Museums vestibule.