The Dallas Morning News
Friday, December 12, 2003

Dec. 12 marks cultural, Catholic feast day


December 12 is an important date for Roman Catholics, especially in the Latino community, where culture and religion combine in a unique celebration. Pealing bells summoned more than 30,000 devout Catholics to downtown Dallas for the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

"Mary is an important part of our church," Edna Robinson said, although it may be difficult for those outside the faith to understand. For Catholics, there is certainty in the significance of the feast.

"If you're praying to Jesus Christ and you want a hurry-up answer, you go to his mother and pray," Robinson explained.

Also Online
  Send an E-card: Virgin of Guadalupe

Among the most sacred sites in the world is a shrine just outside Mexico City. Millions travel there on this day to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe, a woman believed to have appeared to the Mexican Indian Juan Diego in 1531. He was sainted last year.

In a time of great uncertainty for so many, with violence on the streets of the Middle East and here at home, parishioners place their faith in her hands, as well.

Father Ramon Alvarez said many people are looking for a sign of hope. "This has been a time to come and give thanks for what they have and, at the same time, ask for a better tomorrow."

The cathedral in Dallas named in honor of the virgin is, itself, in the midst of renewal. A plywood floor waits for a more ornate replacement; folding chairs sit in place of pews that are being restored.

Even in the pouring rain, thousands came with ceremony and humility to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe.